Monday, September 17, 2012
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
Let it never be said that Buddhists don't get mad. We tend to be more even-tempered than your average bear, and we don't get mad often, to be sure. When we do get mad, though, it's usually because we see some being giving some other being, who doesn't really deserve it, a hard time. At least, that's when I get mad. And when somebody's giving an entire group of people a hard time, regardless of what group of people, I tend to hit the fucking ceiling.
Before I go any further, though, I'd like to offer a general apology to Muslim women. Not just the one or two of you who might have been in the Baylor Tom Landry Fitness Center dressing room this morning at about 7 a.m. local time. No, I think this one should go out to all .8 billion of you. I had a chance to stand up for you today and I didn't take it because I am a fucking coward. I'm sorry. I hope I really mean it when I tell you it won't happen again, because the things I regret in my life are by and large the things I haven't done. The jobs I didn't take and the adventures I didn't go on and the confrontations that I avoided because I was scared. I have a way with words, ya know, and when I waste a chance to make them count I just seethe inside.
So, okay. Tom Landry Fitness Center, 7 A.M. Look, I know the Concerned Women of America work out there. How can they not? It's a nice, tony place. Sort of a country club without golf. I'm just a low-rent swim team member who gets to use the place for an hour or so in the morning. And I hear these conversations that make me shake my head in amazement and sometimes want to pound it against the wall. Most of the time I can ignore them, though. I mean, people don't like total strangers walking into their conversations to correct the facts of something they picked up from Fox News. And it's none of my business, anyway. I've got much better things to do than save people from their own stupidity, especially when I know they won't even be a smidgen grateful.
But this. This was beyond the pale. This was two ladies talking about the Book of Revelation and how it was all "coming true." How it said in the Bible that in the end times, our President would be a Muslim. That the Muslims claimed to have a peaceful religion, but in reality they wanted to take over the world and force everybody to be a Muslim. That they wanted to institute global jihad because they believed their messiah would only come back to a state of chaos. That even if only 1% of Muslims believed this way, there were so many of them that the world was in serious danger. It said so in the Bible. "It's really scary," one of them said to the other. Yeah. Bullshit is scary. At least until you REALIZE IT'S BULLSHIT.
I have an exercise I do when I hear what appears to be hate speech. I change the group of people being mentioned to another group of people and see how it sounds. If it sounds unbelievably racist to say, for example, that the Jews claim to have a peaceful religion but in reality they want to take over the world and force everybody to be Jewish, or that the blacks want to institute global jihad so the black messiah will return, then it's hate speech. This was definitely hate speech. I'm fortunate not to remember all of it because I think I'd start foaming at the mouth.
Anyway, I struggled out of my clothes, tried to get my stuff together, while half my brain ran to the end of its chain and barked and the other half of my brain held onto the chain and kept repeating, "Do not go over there. Do not involve yourself in that conversation." I thought of the time some bitch was going on and on about Obama and I'd burst into song to shut her up. I was too angry to do that; I'd have had to sing something by AC/DC or Stiff Little Fingers instead of Beethoven, and AC/DC and Stiff Little Fingers are not popular among the Concerned Women for America set. The only thing I could really do was get my earplugs in as fast as possible and get out of the dressing room as fast as possible, so I could get into the pool as fast as possible and swim as fast as possible so that I could cool the hell down as fast as possible. Which took about 45 minutes, in case you're wondering.
I'm not gonna bother to refute most of those statements, but the President-as-Muslim one is just too ridiculous to let lie. The Bible, or rather the Book of Revelation, was written a good 70 or 80 years after the death of its supposed author, John the Baptist. It reads like a good acid trip and was probably brought on by poisonous mushrooms. I'm supposed to believe that this book references the President - of a form of government that does not yet exist - of the United States - of a country that does not yet exist, on land that is not yet known to exist, across an ocean that is not yet known to exist - and states that he will be a Muslim, a religion that does not yet exist (around the year 600, people, in case you're wondering)? Even for me, who once believed that she could be recalled like a defective automobile and stripped for spare parts, that's a bit of a stretch. Yet the Concerned Women for America are all over it. Have they actually read the Book of Revelation? Or anything else in the Bible? Or do they just take Cal Thomas's word for it? I mean, seriously. Is there any thought process that goes into this stuff whatsoever?
Here's the part that really frosts me. I took off out of that dressing room because I didn't think there was any way I could say anything without totally blowing my stack. Once I'd calmed down a little, I realized I could have shut the whole thing down without even raising my voice. All I would have had to do is walk over there, put my hands down on the counter and say, in a soft voice, "Ladies, there are Muslim women in this dressing room right now. Go ahead and talk smack about them if you want to, but please keep your voices down." That's it. That's all that needed to be said. It wouldn't have been rude, I wouldn't have come across as a bitch, I just would have made them aware that their conversation was being overheard. That probably would have stopped it entirely and if there were Muslim women in the room (and the odds are in my favor there; lots of nurses and nurse's aides use the fitness center, and lots of those nurses and nurse's aides are from Someplace Else, and lots of those Someplace Elses are Muslim countries), somebody would have spoken up for them.
Believe me, there are plenty of times I wish somebody had spoken up for me. The times I've overheard conversations about "the gays" this and that, or "the crazy people" this and that, or better still, "so and so did (insert bizarre behavior here), he must be bipolar." And there I stand, invisibly lesbian, more invisibly bipolar, thinking to myself, "I'm nothing like that. We're nothing like that. Where is he getting that?" and not having the guts to speak up. It happens less and less often these days, since I'm getting older and my tolerance for bullshit is dropping, but there's always a sense of threat there, a fear that if you out yourself as a member of the group being discussed, all that negative attention will turn on you. If you're lucky, they'll just yell at you and call you names. If you're not lucky, they might beat you up or kill you.
That's why we need to speak up for each other.
I'm sorry I didn't do that today.