The racist, sexist, crazy world of Cyberspace
Every morning I read Yahoo news, and occasionally I scan through the comments. Sometimes I'm too lazy to sign in and respond, but sometimes I see something that I just can't ignore.
Reading Yahoo comments is a very disturbing activity to begin with. When I read what people have to say, I'm shocked at the state of humanity and of many Americans in particular, and I begin to worry what my beloved country will look like in 10 years. I also examine myself. Where will I be in 10 years? Will I even want to move back to the U.S.? Will I want my bi-racial, bilingual child to confront the tremendous wall of ignorance that I see reflected in those malicious, vindictive, insensitive voices?
Just for illustration purposes, in the space of this morning I read the following opinions:
That a woman with a headscarf was ejected from a plane after saying on her cell phone "I've got to go," and being misheard as saying "It's a go." In comment, people suggested that she be flung from the plane at 30,000 feet, and that the U.S. such eject her from the country for being "vile crap" from Pakistan, despite the fact that she had been living peacefully in the U.S. for 10 years or more. I've been in Panama for 8 years. How would I feel if someone told me that I was "vile crap" simply for existing or wishing to live in a place other than my birth country? Hating someone for their racial background or their ethnicity is racism, pure and simple. Immigration laws right now may have a grain of truth to them in the need for better regulation, but they are also a reflection of racism. It's a hideous thing that I want no part of.
For an article in which Katie Couric--one of the few women on this earth that has been allowed to make strides in what was once considered a "man's profession"--decided to move on to a different job, a person responded with a sexual slur. The comment implied that the person (male) didn't respect what she did for a living and indicated instead that her only role in life should be sexual. Is this the America that I'm handing down to my daughter? Is this the same country that supported me in my education, my career and in my journey toward becoming a sexual woman? Is this the same country that guarantees equal rights regardless of my gender? How can I not be offended? How can I not be disturbed? Nearly every time there is an article about a successful woman on Yahoo, there are any number of snide, sometimes malicious sexual comments.
In an article about a woman who was ejected from a bus because her child was crying, there were a number of opinions, but all of them judgmental. The bus's own policy states that a crying baby is not "disruptive behavior" and should not be ejected. Problem solved. However, any number of people, without having been present at the situation, called the woman a "failure" as a mother for the fact that her baby was crying in a public place. They insisted that her child was a "brat" and that she needed to "discipline" her child. All of them, apparently, never ever had any problems with their own children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews. All of them were perfect angels and saints in public and never needed to cry due to hunger or tiredness. One poster expressed hatred of children in general.
Really? Is there no end to the people that we are willing to hate and judge for no good reason?
My students are reading a short story called "The Interlopers" by Saki. It seems that each time I am reading something with them in class, it suddenly strikes me with some great acknowledgement of truth. Who are we that we allow hatred to influence our lives so much that we feel the need to pepper cyberspace with our own bigoted, hateful, malicious opinions? What a waste of time! If we are writing something, especially in public, why are we not advocating peace, dialogue and understanding?
If we Americans hate women, children and Muslims, among other things, then why would any of us want to live there? I wish that, in enjoying our human rights which are guaranteed to us by the constitution, we were more willing to respect those same human rights of other who are equally supposed to be protected and cared for over law. I'm tired of watching my fellow Americans prey on every single minority that exists--every single group that is vulnerable, that feels powerless. If we as individuals don't stand up for our weakest, most vulnerable groups, then we will find more and more disturbing incidents of harassment occurring. And we then can't complain if our country becomes an exclusive place filled with injustice and abuses.
I still have hope in my country. I still have hope that there are enough people who are capable of loving others and creating communities where families can be supported and encouraged to grow in healthy ways. I still have hope that women will one day be treated fairly in the workplace without any aberrations or harassing comments being made. I still have hope that we will break the boundaries of racism and learn to treat each other with love, compassion and respect.
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