I'm a political person - I try to hold myself in check but it's part of who I am. Some people think my train has gone off the rails - politics, religion, too personal for public view. But, I guess I've never been particularly put off by this, as a child of the 60s, it feels like "selling out".
In putting my ideals and opinions out there, I've lost customers - because many hold their beliefs as dear and are as convinced of their "rightness" as I do. That's okay, I can handle that. Our beliefs are largely given to us by our parents. Their beliefs from theirs and, of course, those things that are out of our control, but affect us, factor in to what we believe is right and wrong.
In this environment, it's hard not to have some opinion about the many troubles we find ourselves in. The economy, jobs, homelessness, Arizona, the Park 51 Mosque. Big problems, huge problems. I want to talk about the Park 51 Mosque and the growing hatred of Muslims.
I'm Japanese-American. My parents and their families lived on the west coast - mom on Coronado Island and dad in L.A. My grandparent came to the US from Japan and my parents were born here, making them US citizens. That didn't protect them from being rounded up and put in internment camps - the constitution failed them, entirely. They were able to take only what they could wear, or carry with them.
Grandma was pregnant and my Uncle Paul was the first baby born at the Santa Anita racetrack. Grandpa was into the martial arts - Kendo - big long bamboo swords. I guess that was the reason he was taken from the family months before they had to leave Coronado Island - or was it because he was a gardener? For the duration of the war, Grandma and the family had no idea where he was - whether he was alive or dead.
When the war was over, each internee was given 25 dollars and a ticket to wherever they wanted to go. Good-bye.
So, when the tragedy of 9/11 occurred, my family were filled with not just the fear of attack and the grief of senseless loss of life, we were also filled with fear for the Muslims. Through the lens of our experience, we knew that what happened to Japanese Americans could happen to Muslim Americans. The one good thing that Bush did was to forcefully come out and state that we were not at war with Islam. President Obama has tried to do the same thing but with the unreasonable hate that is directed at him, his words have fallen on deaf ears.
I'm worried. I wonder if our Constitution will hold fast to its ideals or if it will fail as it failed my family. Park 51 is, from what I understand, a community center with a prayer room - isn't that the YMCA? But that isn't even the issue here. We are supposed to live in a nation that offers religious freedom. Believe what you will or don't - we have that right. And, I believe much of the ruckus masks a deep seated, fear of what people do not understand - that which is "foreign". My family were "foreign" and so are Muslims.
Will fear win? Will the Constitution be shredded to appease those who claim to honor it, but only when it serves them? For me, an exception here, an exception there and we're building camps again.