Go Back to Your Country (?)

What does someone think, who gets told to “go back where you came from” by someone whose own lineage does not originate in this land? It’s quite an absurd demand, given that people with Western European heritage are the ones most likely to issue such a direction. And, likely as not, this utterance will be hurled at people who were born here – some with longer histories in this land than the sender of the message. The assessment that someone needs to “go back” is generally predicated entirely on appearance, which is not a very good metric for determining whether someone is a native. Skin color – especially darker skin – is wholly unreliable for knowing if someone is a “natural-born citizen.” Garb, especially religious accoutrements, is another poor method for assessing citizenship. It turns out that anyone can be a citizen, regardless of pigmentation and regardless of religion. Will wonders never cease…

Earlier this week a New York City police officer was accosted and threatened on the basis of her hijab, and was invited in a not so friendly way to “go back” to her country (she is a US citizen, born in NYC). This is just one of many such incidents included in the over 30% increase in “bias attacks” in NYC post-election. Not that the surge only began after the election; hate crimes have been on the increase all through the election season. Those who assert that the predestine-elect’s message was benign of was not taken seriously do not appear to be in line with the facts. It is important, I think, to intervene if we happen to see something like this occurring. Preferably a non-violent intervention, and with a mind toward contacting the police if the situation escalates before fisticuffs (or other force, depending on what you like to carry around). We ought not let this become normal. And, before I sound too alarmist, an increase of between 30 and 30% is significant, but the base is such that this increase will not result in widespread incidents such as these – you are more likely not to be witness to a hate crime, even now. Let’s work to keep it that way.

And, again, if you supported Trump but not on the basis of his bigoted rhetoric, prove it by standing up in solidarity with those who feel threatened, especially if you see something happening. Turning a blind eye enables the perpetuation and even increase in these types of crimes. Be part of the solution. Stand up; speak out. Don’t allow this behavior to become normal.

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