Marcia’s Law – Continue the Attack
“In every battle there comes a time when both sides consider themselves beaten, then he who continues the attack wins.”
-Ulysses S. Grant
In 1862, with the Civil War raging, and traders profiting from the South’s cotton crop, General U.S. Grant ordered that “The Jews, as a class having violated every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department…are hereby expelled…” (America’s Civil War, November 2012).
Grant, by this decree, not only expelled Jewish traders from the South, but entire Jewish families – most of them Northern sympathizers – as well as members of his own troops. The decree was quickly overturned by President Lincoln.
Many Jews had left Eastern Europe because of the persecution they suffered there and were outraged to get the same treatment here. But, it’s not as if anyone had any great love for Jews in the America of 1862. In fact, their “otherness” is what kept them separate. Expediency was what saved the day; the North needed that cotton, so they needed the Jews.
Throughout our history, we have many examples of “otherness:” Native Americans whose lands and lives we took to conquer this country, Japanese Americans who were interred during World War II, African Americans who until 1963 couldn’t even sit at the same table as whites, developmentally disabled individuals who were sterilized, and every immigrant who ever came to these shores seeking a better life; members of all these groups have all felt the sting of “otherness.”
Today, “otherness” flourishes. And, one segment of our population is still discriminated against in housing, employment, and the freedom to marry. This segment is the LGBTQ population.
It is true that our treatment of LGBTQ individuals has not reached the horrific magnitude of the pogroms that once swept through Europe or the genocide Sadaam Hussain perpetuated against the Kurds. But, we are, from my perspective, teetering way too close to that precipice.
And this election year, it is the Republicans who are taking up the banner of tyranny. They assert that the Democrats will force gay marriage upon us all if Obama wins the election. Never mind that this issue, upholding or repealing DOMA, will be considered this fall, not by elected officials, but by the Supreme Court. What the Republicans are really promulgating is fear.
Fear sells well in the Ministries, homes, schools, and businesses of those who relegate gay people to second class status based on selected sections of an ancient text. They wield that fear as a weapon and whip people into frenzy. Fear is a very useful tool in delineating “otherness;” it compels the ignorant to inflict a terrible toll on those “other” human beings.
This fear mongering suits the perpetuators’ purposes. It detracts from real issues, creates a ready scapegoat for all the problems that exist, and provides a platform for their own self promotion.
Legitimate study after study demonstrates that LGBTQ individuals in healthy relationships raise healthy kids, contribute in meaningful ways to society, and add value to our economy. But, their active fear-mongering sustains the separate and not equal America that they need to advance their power.
My ancestors came to this country seeking religious freedom, an opportunity to create their own destiny, and a safe place to live, raise their children, and work. They believed in the American dream. I believe in it still. I believe that a vocal MINORITY has caught people up in their hatred, and they are too cowed, too prejudiced, and too entrenched in their own fear to recognize how anti-American they really are.
At least that’s what I’d like to think…that the MAJORITY of Americans are at heart basically sensible and reasonable. Sadly, that is not what I’m seeing as this election year ramps up. And so, I believe it is time to “continue the attack” so that we can win this battle for equality.
That means every LGBTQ individual, anyone who loves someone who is LGBTQ, or knows someone…or doesn’t know anyone who is LGBTQ, but who believes that in America ALL PEOPLE should be equal…need to stand up. All of us need to say NO to the jokes, the name calling, and the daily insinuations and insults that constitute gay bashing. Every single one of us needs to state loudly and clearly that we will not tolerate this “otherness;” not for one more year; not for one more day; not for one more second.
And every single one of us needs to vote for the candidate who provides the only choice for equality in this country. That is how we “continue the attack and win the battle!”
…And I’m just a mom who loves her son…