Friday, February 01, 2008
Terror - Plain and Simple.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Thus instead of using the picture of an empty noose to convey the meaning behind the symbol I thought it wise to jerk us back to the reality embedded in the symbol. I did so because Americans must know that the noose is a sign of terrorism. It is a symbol from a time when an entire community of people were held hostage to the reality that at any time and without any reason one of them could be subjected to being hunted down, strung up, set on fire and brutally murdered right before his family and community. The noose is a reminder that systematic, ethnic terror was once an acceptable way to treat those whom the scriptures describe as sojourners and foreigners (see Exod. 22:21; Lev. 19:33-34).
Not too long ago black laborer in Philadelphia found a noose suspended from a place at his work site. Having failed to gain a successful resolution of the insult he took it to court where the offending party received some kind of light reprimand. The man who brought the complaint however discovered that he was no longer being called to work by the union. (more on Philly unions in a later post) I’m sure you’re aware of the tensions caused by other incidents involving the hanging of nooses, but I wonder if we as a society are aware of the message we’re sending to minority communities here and those who observe us around the world.
Here’s what I’m getting at. If there’s one thing most Americans seem to agree on it’s that we must stay and win the fight against terrorism. We’re told to never forget 911 and that the U.S. must be a beacon to the world of freedom, democracy and a place where anyone should be able to live without the fear of terror. Our politicians get their loudest cheers when they assure us of how tough they’ll be on terrorist and how they will leave no stone unturned when it comes to keeping America safe. And then we turn right around and say little when a few decide to display a symbol of terror.
I realize that there are those who say to acknowledge a few miscreants is to give them more due than they deserve. Maybe. But shouldn’t we as a society make a clear statement that while we can’t totally prevent private expressions of terror we can at least make the point that those who make such expressions are of the same ilk as those who lauded the terrorist responsible for 911? Doesn’t it seem just a tad hypocritical for a society that so forcefully stands against terror to turn a blind eye when a few insist on displaying symbols of the very thing we claim to be so passionately against?
How should we respond to those who drudge up the vestiges of terror? We can make it clear that the noose is a symbol of terror, nothing less. We can write, speak, call and tell others that a society that detests terror cannot give a free pass to a few who would glory in its depravity. We can let them know that those who display a noose are actively working against the very society that claim to so proudly represent. We can tell ourselves, tell the world and tell miscreants that the display of a noose isn’t a juvenile indiscretion, a harmless prank, an empty gesture or a backwards display of ignorance. We can remind ourselves that the noose isn’t just a black issue that ‘those’ people just need to get over, but an American issue that we cannot afford to let pass quietly into the night. We can remind ourselves that the symbol of the noose is a symbol of terror, plain and simple.
To Him Who Loves Us…