Monday, July 16, 2012

Fear of a Mixed Planet

This weekend I attended a friend's wedding.  It was absolutely lovely, a lot of fun, and the epitome of this blog--Mixed Race America.  The bride is a white Mennonite from Canada.  The groom is a Chinese American born to Taiwanese immigrant parents.  The guests were a mix of various ethnicities and races--and a great number of them were "foreigners" -- Canadian family members and immigrants (many of whom have since become naturalized citizens) from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Guatemala, Viet Nam, and Argentina.  And there were multiracial guests: white-Chinese, white-Indian, Chinese-Guatemalan.  One of the running jokes was that I was one of the few true "Americans"--one of the few guests born and raised in the United States.

I take for granted that weddings like this happen and that it was celebrated by guests who were African American, white, Canadian, Taiwanese, Asian American, Latino, etc...

So it was jarring to receive this blog comment on an older post I had written back in December 2009 when Philadelphia Cream Cheese put out its first (at least I believe it's their first) commercial featuring a visibly inter-racial couple (in this case a white man and a black woman):

"A close look at the Word of God proves he is against mingling"

[Aside: Shouldn't it be "He" when referring to "God" and how do we know that God is even gendered male and do we even know for sure there IS a God--at least a God in the singular sense?  Couldn't there be gods, Gods, Goddesses, Divinities, a sense of the Sublime Divine?]

When I clicked on the commenter's profile, his handle is A.C.W. (American's Culture War), the description of who he is came up as:

"White Christian Male under attach from both left and right"

[Second aside:  It seems unkind and mean spirited to point out the obvious grammatical errors in his handle and profile description, right?]

I'm not going to link to his blog--I think it's best not to give air time to someone whose own views are clearly diametrically opposed to my own views.  I will say that A.C.W. decided that he wasn't content with just leaving a comment on my blog--he decided to take it a step further and contacted me through an email address that I have on my blog (and which everyone who wants to contact me is free to use--just click on my profile page and you can find my contact info--it doesn't have any personal information within it, which is why I use it for this blog).  Anyway, this is what someone named H.J. Rossi with a gmail account wrote to me:

"race mixing is a sin . Not on a sin, its the sin that brings genocide to one race or the other..currently in 50 years the white race will be a minority in the USA
your comment caught up with you"

[Third aside: I cut and pasted it exactly as it was written--he also included a link back to the blog in which he originally commented, which I didn't bother to include since I embedded the link above.]

Now--let me be clear.  I'm not trying to pick on H.J. Rossi.  Yes, he doesn't seem to want to engage in real dialogue and debate, as I encourage, and yes he may have violated rule #2 for comments on my blog--being respectful.  I mean, I don't think that it's respectful in the slightest to say that God is against mingling (by which I'm assuming means race mixing) -- after all, how can he or anyone else nkow what God thinks???  I am, in part, shedding light on Rossi's comment because there is a small part of me that got this queasy feeling when I saw that he took the time not only to leave a comment but to email me--wondering if he was going to take this a step FURTHER and try to find me and harm me--because it's hard to know how to take 

"your comment caught up with you" 

I may be over-reacting, but it sounds vaguely threatening, definitely sinister, absolutely not friendly.

So in part I'm calling on the collective wisdom of my blog readers--should I be worried and/or should I report H.J. Rossi's comment to Blogger and/or to Gmail--is it threatening?  And/or is shedding light on his hatred just putting oil on the fire?  That dawns on me too--that I am giving him exactly what he wants--a platform for his vitriol.  An audience whom he can irrationally antagonize.  So one thing I'm really going to ask folks to do is to NOT leave comments on his blog--to NOT engage him and give him air time.  I'm sure this is why he has his own blog and why he left the comment on my blog and emailed me--he wants to goad me--he wants to get me mad.

I'm not mad.  I'm a bit nervous that he might decide to take this too far and harm me, but mostly I see his comments to me as a reminder that there is still hatred out there.  Rossi may be an outlier in terms of his particular brand of mean spiritedness and his blatant racism--I mean, it's been a while since I've actually had someone tell me that "race mixing is a sin."  In fact, I don't know that I've ever had anyone say those words to me directly or write these words to me before.  Which is pretty remarkable when you think I've been blogging at this site for over five years and this is the first time that a real true died-in-the-wool racist who hates multiracial people, inter-racial couples, and the idea of people of different races being friendly actually leaving a truly racist comment.

Although I don't identify as Christian (I'm a lapsed Catholic who is agnostic and open to various forms of spirituality in the sense that I wouldn't say anyone's faith is better or worse), I think that the Christian thing to do with Rossi is to try to approach him with a spirit of loving kindness rather than rancor or rage.  I'm sad for him--because living with that much anxiety and fear of a mixed race America must be an awful way to live--an awful weight to carry around, even if he isn't feeling it as such.  I suppose another perspective is to wonder about mental health issues.  I'm not trying to be patronizing, but in this day and age, with a mixed-race president and so many inter-racial couplings and multiracial people, you have to wonder whether or not it's a sign of pathology to invoke genocide and sin with the idea of race mixing. 

Finally, Philadelphia Cream Cheese came out with a second commercial featuring an inter-racial couple--this time a black man and a white woman enjoying breakfast in bed--ENJOY!



billiep said...

I usually don't post comments, but, your blog came up on my news feed... I guess it was kismet.

The way I interpret that ACW's comments, I feel you shouldn't have any reason to feel anxious. It seems like he was saying that the White race will die off in 50 years and because of your thinking and relationship pattern, it's somehow your fault. In that respect, it has caught up to you.

Put comments like those aside. Everyone has an opinion... don't let it take up space in your brain.

Dianne said...

Did you actually post his comment? I haven't had any bad comments on mine, but it's just one year old this month. I am much more open than you about who I am. I've seen so much that I refuse to be afraid of people -- you can't live being afraid like that. And, yes, he is afraid, too. I understand that, and I don't hate people for not recognizing my relationship and my children. I won't respond in kind.
Now I did get a comment last month, and my intuition told me it was baiting disguised as innocent questions. I responded and then wrote a whole post on it. My daughter said I went too far, but, honestly, I don't think I did and I don't have regrets. In fact I know I would respond the same way again if given the opportunity. For a while, one of my posts was getting a lot of traffic from a white fringe group. I was a little weirded out, but in the end I figured that it was okay. Those are some of the people who I hope to reach, right? Why preach to the choir? It's more comfortable but decidedly less effective.
I would not fuel the fire in this case, because you have to consider the source, and, you already know, you've handled it just fine with this post.


Anonymous said...

Have you got his ISP? If yes, you can use that and the other information you have to make a report - even if it's no more than for your own records, it's good to keep documentation in case things escalate.

And, hooray interracial, intercultural weddings! Congrats to the happy families :) We recently married off my brother and, like your recent experience, I was so happy to find that the friends and chosen family he has cultivated in the far north (he lives in Alaska) are extraordinarily racially/ethnically diverse.

Jennifer said...

Hi everyone,
Thanks for your feedback/advice about how to handle ACW. I also had folks email me privately. I think I'll save the email (and lovepeaceohana, that's a good idea about the ISP) and wait and see. I don't think he's dangerous, but my instinct was to shine a little bit of light on him, not to give him airtime (because there's no reason to entertain someone whose opinions suggest he doesn't want dialogue, he wants antagonism) but in case the harassment escalates, I've made it public. I think I'm sensitive about this because of a nasty incident that happened when I wrote about the Duke Lacrosse case (lots of harassing email messages and one scary phone call).

Anyway, hope everyone is having a good day!