Tuesday, April 27

In the News: Other


I'm supposed to blog about the news, but I can't watch the news. I used to watch the news, but then somewhere along the line, it became about splitting the screen and having two people yell at each other--and suddenly, that's news. Heck, sometimes they even split the screen by four and FOUR people yelling their opinions.

Me? I'm looking for a little peace. See that little guy? That's my baby when I took him to march on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. I also took my other three kids, and we gathered, peacefully, with about 50,000 other protesters against the war. I'm trying to raise my children with a sense of purpose, peace, and tolerance.

So the news? It's about anything but. I'll read the news--every day, in fact. But I can't listen to the animosity. Because when I boil it down, it is almost always about OTHER. After 9/11, I met a Sikh who was attacked. He couldn't drive his cab for a couple of weeks in fear for his life. Sikhs are not Muslims, but they do wear turbans. They look different--they are Other. In Arizona right now, they want to make it a law that if you look like Other, you can be asked to produce proof you are a citizen or else get hauled to jail. Other extends to fear of gay people, fear of people whose skin is darker, whose religion is different. Fear of Other extends all the way to offices of power, and all the way down to the corridors of high schools. Like millions right now, I know the name of Phoebe Prince, a girl who was "bullied to death." High school, when people are trying to figure out who they are, seems to magnify Other. A lot of kids are looking to fit in, not stand out.

So do you watch the news? Do you see a hatred for Other consuming our world? And even our high schools? Does it disturb you? How can we combat it?

12 comments:

Jonathon Arntson said...

Thanks for this post, Erica. Hatred is of course disturbing, but it is filled with so much fervor that it seems impossible to combat. At Lee Wind's blog last week, he featured a great video about a high school coming together to fight hatred:
http://www.leewind.org/2010/04/best-response-to-hate-is-gunn-high.html

I'm gay, and I have even encountered intolerance through blogs. In one of my blogger friend's comments, I responded to her question about reading books without a gay theme, but the MC is gay. I was surprised to see so many people say that they would not read a book knowing there was a gay character because they do not agree with that lifestyle. It was saddening, but also enlightening as I am in the process of writing a book that may change people's minds. Maybe.

Natasha Fondren said...

The governor signed that law Wednesday, I think. It's sickening. And I'm with you on the news. Conflict makes great story, but not a great country.

Otherness is what makes us special and interesting. I love this post, Erica.

Sara Z. said...

Great post, Erica. I also have an In the News post due and I'm all...I hate the news.
I listen to NPR in the mornings, and read the NYT (I subscribe to actual paper) if I'm up to it. Usually with the Times I skip the front section and just read Business, Arts, Style, whatever...

Erica Orloff said...

Jonathon:
I cannot, for the LIFE of me, fathom that. It makes me a combination of sad and mad and bewildered.

Erica Orloff said...

Natasha:
Don't even get me started, LOL! Since my Significant Other is Mexican-American and . . . well . . . brown . . . and with a Hispanic name, the NOTION that he would, as a naval veteran who served his country, PROVE his citizenship by virtue of his name and skin color makes me want to vomit. That our children could travel there, and by virtue of their Hispanic names be asked to prove it . . . same thing. What is this? Apartheid? This is America??????

Erica Orloff said...

Sara Z.
LOVE the Arts section of the Times. And I love NPR.

Joe Barone said...

I can't tell you how much I agree with this. The nastiness and negativity have made it so I don't watch news of any sort much anymore. I get most of my information off the Internet because I control it. I don't have to have Wolf Blitzer or somebody tell me I should listen to Marli Matlin and Donna Brazil (or...you put in the names) argue with each other.

Great post.

Erica Orloff said...

Hi Joe:
I get my news from the Internet, too . . . several papers, different countries, trying to see my own balanced viewpoint. I loathe how the world has become so uncivil . . . and as I wrote, it's from the top all the way down to school hallways and PTA meetings. We don't listen to each other anymore.

Melissa Walker said...

Thanks for posting this, Erica. "Other" is a big scary monster to people, you're right. We're all guilty of it in one way or another. Lately, I've been thinking about all my NYC friends and our liberalism, and how we mark conservatives as "other" very often--that's not cool either. I'm trying to listen more.

Erica Orloff said...

Melissa:
I listen if people are respectful. If it crosses into hate speech, I'm done.

E

Melissa Walker said...

Good point, Erica. I'm with you!

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Great post, Erica. I do watch the news. Like you, I hate, well, hatred. It's disturbing how much We/Them nonsense goes on in the world. One thing I've tried to do over the years is to learn how to speak respectfully to people who hold viewpoints that strongly oppose mine. No argument was ever won by saying to someone else, "How could any sane person possible think that?"