All Sides are Not Right

“When you are accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”

 

I have tried to find an attribution for this quote, but I can’t find one. I feel like whoever said it was trying to tell us something about the world we are living in today.

As I watched white supremacists gather in Charlottesville this weekend to chant things like “blood and soil” (a phrase popular among Nazis) and “you will not replace us,” I became angry. I became angry because I have done all that I can to see the shades of grey that exist in our current political landscape. I actually have friends who get frustrated with me, because I have tried over the last year to understand the mindset of those who voted for President Trump. As a teacher, I believe it is important to see the many sides of any particular issue, and I believe that it is important for teachers to ask students to suspend judgment while they collect evidence before making determinations.

When President Trump stated that the unrest and violence in Charlottesville could be blamed on “many sides,” I got angry.

 

While it is certainly true that there is more than one side to issues of equality in our country, it is important to say this: not all sides are right. The white supremacists who came to Charlottesville this weekend are wrong. Real conversations about race, equality, and social justice require honest, complex, and challenging dialogue among thoughtful people. The racists who marched through the streets of Charlottesville have no interest in that conversation; the problem is that they have become empowered to believe that their hateful rhetoric belongs in the conversation. They believe that the current political climate is an opportunity to bring hate, racism and intolerance into our national conversation about what it is to be an American. They are wrong, and we need to say so. Not only do we need to say so, but our leaders need to say so. I was pleased to see so many of our leaders call out the racism that was on display this weekend, but those who tried to spin a narrative that “many sides” were to blame should be ashamed of themselves.

 

I spent two days last week in a building with 2,000 educators talking about how we can make our schools better. Specifically, we were discussing how we create a culture in our schools in which ALL students believe they can succeed. We talk a lot about “achievement gaps” in our schools. There is no doubt these gaps are real, but the discussion becomes more challenging when we talk about the “attitude gaps” and the “opportunity gaps” that exist in our schools. As a group of white supremacists are marching around Virginia trying to convince us that they are being oppressed, we know there are real gaps in opportunities among students in our schools. It is going to take teachers, school leaders, political leaders and communities to address the fact that all of our students don’t find the same opportunities to succeed in our schools. But if we allow ourselves to engage in the hateful rhetoric of those who are spewing Nazi propaganda as a way to further divide us, then all is lost.

During my two days discussing the culture of our schools last week, there were a lot of great conversations, but maybe equally important was what wasn’t discussed. There wasn’t a discussion of how we can profit off of public education, there wasn’t a discussion of cracking down on affirmative action as a way to make our colleges and universities better, there wasn’t a discussion of how a reduction in after school programs would make our schools better, there wasn’t a discussion of how a reduction in arts funding would make our schools better, and there certainly wasn’t a discussion of how creating equitable learning conditions for ALL students comes at the expense of the white supremacists who were marching this weekend.

 

As schools across the country start up this month, teachers are going to open their doors and arms to ALL students. Teachers are going to work hard to close the opportunity gaps that exist in our system. It isn’t easy, because our students don’t all come to us looking like the kids you see in those back-to-school ads, and that’s the way we like it. We got into teaching not because it is easy work, but because we know there are kids in all of our schools who need us to give them hope. It is hard to convince a young kid to be hopeful in a world where white supremacists are recognized as just “another side” of our national debate about equality. Some of that hope will come from saying out loud that those people marching through the streets of Charlottesville are wrong. Hope will come to our students if they hear the message from Nelson Mandela that President Obama shared on Saturday:

No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.

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I’m Not Changing Many Minds

The National Rifle Association recently ran an ad that caught my attention. In the ad, a conservative commentator I’ve never heard of started listing things that some group of people she referred to as “they” are doing to “assassinate real news.” In the ad the NRA seems to argue that “they” are doing lots of things like using movie stars, singers, and comedy shows to repeat “their narrative.” “They” are also marching and protesting. Of course she also observes that “they” are smashing windows, burning cars, and shutting down interstates and airports. What really caught my eye though was an observation that “they” use “their” schools to teach children that the president is another Hitler.

I am “they.” I haven’t broken any windows, burned any cars, taught students that anyone was like Hitler, and the closest I’ve come to shutting down an airport is the time I forgot to take some quarters out of my pocket going through security. But make no doubt about it, I am “they.” Over the course of the last three years I have dedicated quite a bit of time blogging, writing articles, as well as writing and calling legislators and other leaders to advocate for public education. It became clear to me this week that I haven’t changed the mind of one of these public leaders.

 

I grew up believing that politics was about the healthy exchange of ideas. I read about the debates in the Continental Congress where smart people argued the merits of how much government was too much or too little. I read history books about how Abraham Lincoln brought together those with diverse opinions in order to hear more than one viewpoint in his cabinet. My political baptism was in an era when Ronald Regan and Tip O’Neill would meet after hours over an adult beverage and find ways to come together. It is obvious that we are in a new era of American politics.

 

I am “they.” The angry spokesperson in the NRA video will never see me as anyone other than “they.” I am not going to change her mind. I am not going to convince Betsy DeVos that one of the roles of public schools is to protect the civil rights of our students. There isn’t any amount of evidence that will convince Iowa’s Republican legislators to abandon the “Kansas Playbook” of tax cuts for big business and the wealthy, which are leading to cuts in critical public services. True stories, such as this one from my college friend Jodi, will not convince my senators to vote against massive cuts to Medicaid. We are living in a political environment where we won’t listen to “them.”

 

It would be easy to give up. It would be easy to accept the fact that those with money are going to win the day. Yet, we can’t stop fighting. The narrator of the NRA ad accused “they” of using “their” forces to repeat “their” narrative “over and over again.” She’s right, WE are going to use words, voices, and ideas over and over again to tell our narrative. While I recognize that President Trump, Secretary DeVos, Senator Grassley, Senator Ernst, Governor Reynolds, or the Republican legislators in my state aren’t interested in the thoughts of those who disagree with them, that doesn’t mean that we stop talking. The NRA would have you equate my advocacy for public education with violent extremism in order to not have to hear my voice; it won’t work. No matter how hard our leaders want to hide behind close doors, stop holding public town halls, stop holding press briefings in front of cameras, and suppress the voices of a free media or their opponents, it will only work if we allow it.

 

We can’t give into an “us vs. them” mentality. Let others play that game; we aren’t going to change the minds of those who refuse to listen. Regardless, it is important that we are relentless in telling our narrative. As a teacher, I am going to continue to share the narrative that our schools are filled with teachers who want nothing more than to ignite passion in young people. I am going to continue to shout from the mountaintop that schools must stand up for our most disadvantaged students.

 

No amount of bullying will stop me from fighting for more arts programs, more industrial technology programs, more programs for our physically and mentally challenged students, more programs for our young people who come to us speaking different languages, and more opportunities for EVERY student. That is what is going to make America great again. There are minds I won’t change, and I have been on the losing end of many elections, but I refuse to be on the wrong side of doing right by those who need us the most. The NRA ad closes by saying, “the only way we save our country and our freedom, is to fight this violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth.” It’s a chilling comment. I offer another possibility to save our country and our freedom; we will change our country through honest conversation, a willingness to respectfully disagree, and through open hearts.

Another Letter to Betsy DeVos

In December, I wrote you a letter as an introduction to those of us who teach in America’s public schools. In it I shared that we were a little freaked out about your nomination. You’ve never worked in a school, your children never attended a public school, and you didn’t seem to have a lot of positive things to say about the hard-working people who dedicate themselves to the 50 million young people who attend public schools.

You’ve now been the Secretary of Education for a few months and I have to say, we’ve moved from being freaked out to understanding that you are who we thought you were. President Trump began his presidency, and your tenure as Secretary of Education, by saying that American schools were depriving students of knowledge and describing them as “American carnage”. It lacked the poetry of “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” but we got the point. The dark vision that you and the president paint of our public schools (which you neither of you have really spent any time in) surely has an impact on your plans for the Department of Education.

Your first budget for the Department of Education is out and it’s a doozy. You eliminate $1.2 billion from after-school programs that serve 1.6 million children, you cut $27 million in arts education, $12 million for Special Olympics programs, and eliminate a program that provides loan forgiveness for teachers who offer to teach in underserved rural communities. In his inaugural address, President Trump said that American schools were “flush with cash.” My wife, who often has to teach music lessons in hallways and closets might disagree, but I digress. Your budget seems to try to surmise that schools are wasting money by providing safe places to go after school, giving young people the opportunity to create art, and supporting special education students. That’s disappointing in and of itself, but what is really appalling is that you are going to take the money from these programs that directly serve students and you are going to use it to expand corporate (profit making) charter schools and voucher programs.

Educator Carol Burris has studied the impact of diverting tax payer dollars to charter schools and voucher programs all over the country and has come up with the following three conclusions:

1) Privatized school choice will inevitably reduce funding to your local neighborhood public schools.

2) Direct and disguised vouchers to private schools and other public school alternatives start small and then expand, increasing the burden on taxpayers.

3) Additional administrative costs coupled with a lack of transparency waste taxpayer dollars and open the door to excessive legal and fraudulent personal gain.

I guess my question about your leadership of the Department of Education is this, who are you serving? Your proposed budget would suggest that your interest is in diverting dollars away from programs that directly impact young people and putting those dollars into the pockets of those who would like to make a profit in the business of educating our young people. The reality is that the vouchers that you champion will allow wealthy Americans to simply pocket money that they can afford to spend to send their children to the private (often religious) schools of their choice as taxpayers make up the difference. The reality is that charter schools aren’t going to use taxpayer dollars to build schools in rural communities, but taxpayers in those rural communities will be subsidizing charter schools in suburban communities, as well as the salaries of those who run large corporate school operations. In no universe does your budget make public schools better for the students who need them the most.

The thing is, you are doing exactly what you said you would do. Your disregard for public schools is what we knew we were getting. As the public schools of our country struggle to adapt to your agenda, as the pool of teachers willing to work in this new era continues to diminish, and as you do all you can to line the pockets of those who wish to exploit your agenda, it is those who voted for your nomination that teachers are really angry with. My own senators, Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, voted to confirm you, knowing that the rural schools of Iowa would be hurt as much as anyone by your agenda.

The educators of my home state of Iowa have seen several years of budgets that are forcing our schools into austerity, we have lost our right to bargain collectively by a vindictive state legislature, and now we are watching as you enact a budget that will take dollars from important programs that serve students in order to build an industrial education complex that cares more about profit than student achievement. It only takes a brief look at your budget to see who benefits from your leadership in the Department of Education and to discover that you are who we thought you were.

American teachers will continue to look out for EVERY young person who comes in our door; the young Bosnian child who translates for her parents, the homeless teen who studies in a car with just a street light to illuminate his books, the student who stays in school because of a great music, art, or industrial technology program, and the special education student who loves to interact with their peers for part of their day. We are disappointed, but not surprised in what we are seeing. We hope that you will continue to meet more of us and in that process, begin to understand that our schools aren’t carnage, but are sanctuaries of hope for the children who are our future.

How To Celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week

Teacher Appreciation Week is here, and parents, students and school districts all around the country go out of their way to offer their thanks for the work that teachers do. As a teacher, I can promise you that we appreciate the snacks in the faculty lounge, the discounts at some local stores and the kind notes from our parent/teacher organizations.

As much as we appreciate the kind gestures from our communities, Teacher Appreciation Week feels a little different this year. The elections of 2016 have surely had an impact on how appreciated teachers feel this spring. During President Trump’s inauguration speech he said that public education was a “system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge.” He included our schools as part of an “American carnage,” that was at the center of his view of our country.

Since taking office he has proposed a 14% budget cut to the Department of Education. Maybe most importantly, the president nominated Betsy DeVos, a billionaire with no educational experience, to lead the Department of Education. Ms. DeVos’s only work in the field of education has been to donate millions of dollars to candidates and organizations whose sole purpose is to divert tax payer dollars from public schools to private companies who seek to make a profit opening charter schools. It is important to note that the charter schools in Michigan (where Ms. DeVos has driven education policy for many years by funding Republic candidates who implement her agenda) score worse than their public counterparts according to an analysis of federal data. This is who Mr. Trump has chosen to lead our nation’s schools.

In my home state of Iowa, the Republican legislature and governor continued to underfund public schools while destroying collective bargaining for teachers. Republican legislators in Iowa tell educators that resources are limited at the same time that the state cuts hundreds of millions of dollars in tax credits to companies and individuals who pay no state income taxes.

While this week might be Teacher Appreciation Week, it seems that our legislators are doing all they can to demonstrate their appreciation to Big Business during every day of their legislative session. When we starve public schools in order to feed businesses who are making massive profits we are sending a message to the students who need the services that our schools offer.

It seems that our legislators are doing all they can to demonstrate their appreciation to Big Business.

I think it’s safe to say that teachers aren’t feeling very appreciated right now and there isn’t much on the horizon that will change that. Enrollment in teacher preparation programs has fallen from 691,000 in 2009 to 451,000 in 2014, a 35 percent decline, according to the study, “A Coming Crisis in Teaching? Teacher Supply, Demand and Shortages in the U.S.” What does it say about the state of education in our country that so many fewer students are choosing to become teachers?

What do teachers want during Teacher Appreciation Week? We are thankful for the treats in the faculty lounge and many of the other nice perks that are provided during the week, but that’s not what we really want. What we really want is for our communities to insist that our legislators not just talk about making education a priority, but to actually make education a priority. Public schools won’t change in our country until education becomes THE issue in national, state, and local elections.

We cannot say that we want better public schools while continuing to elect legislators who force austerity on our public schools in order to protect massive tax breaks for wealthy corporations. There is a narrative being told by those who are in favor of starving public education that our schools are filled with wasteful spending. If that is the case, what programs would you cut? Would you cut the arts? Would you cut programs for special needs children? Would you provide less technology? Would you eliminate industrial technology programs? Should we offer fewer world languages? Seriously, what would you cut?

In addition, there seems to be a belief that teachers advocate for more money simply to raise our own salaries. The truth is that, just like every other profession, salary impacts who chooses to enter the field. If we don’t pay teachers a fair salary, the shortage of smart young people going into teaching will continue to grow. Veteran teachers want nothing more than to hand off our schools to the next great generation of smart, driven, and dedicated education professionals.

There is one last thing you could do for Teacher Appreciation Week.

Take a moment and thank a teacher who changed your life in some way. While teachers want our country to truly invest in making our schools great, we know that teaching is about the privilege of helping young people grow. I encourage you to say “thank you,” to a teacher who made a difference in your life. I want to say thank you to Mr. Gartz, my high school band teacher who demanded excellence and who helped me to recognize the joy in making music. He was one of many teachers who made my life better. As we appreciate teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week, remember that great teaching doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It is vital that we lend our voices and our votes to the cause of great public schools.

A Teacher Becoming Maladjusted

I sat in a conference listening to Dr. Christopher Emdin from Columbia University speak a few weeks ago and his presentation has haunted me ever since. I encourage you to look into the work that Dr. Emdin is doing with “Reality Pedagogy” (http://chrisemdin.com/portfolio/reality-pedagogy-christopher-emdin-at-tedxteacherscollege/), but it was his reference to the word “maladjusted” that has stuck with me. Dr. Emdin shared the words of Dr. Martin Luther King in his address; during a speech in 1963, Dr. King said this, “there are certain things in our nation and in the world which I am proud to be maladjusted.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1j-4cTtecuM) Dr. Emdin suggested that it was time that we, as educators, become maladjusted to much of what is happening in public education today.

 

I am a 49-year-old white man who lives in a safe suburban neighborhood in Iowa. I teach in an outstanding school district with strong community support. It would be pretty easy for me to become adjusted to the current educational landscape. Yet, in reflecting on Dr. King’s words and Dr. Emdin’s speech I find myself uncomfortable with idea of simply accepting the things that seem to happening in education and in our nation.

In Dr. King’s 1963 speech he said, “I say very honestly that I never intend to become adjusted to segregation and discrimination. I never intend to become adjusted to religious bigotry. I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism, to self‐defeating effects of physical violence…” I find that his words resonate with this middle class white man more than 50 years after he spoke them.

 

The things that Dr. King said he could not become adjusted to are not just abstract notions. I live in a state where business tax credits have grown from $75 million in 2007 to over $230 million in 2016, all while we underfund our public schools (https://iowapolicypoints.org/2017/03/21/a-spotlight-not-a-floodlight-on-business-breaks/). I refuse to become adjusted to the idea that this type of corporate welfare is more important than the public school programs and staffing that are being cut in our state. I refuse to become adjusted to a federal budget that would eliminate funding for after school programs that this administration says don’t benefit young people, and yet evidence suggests the incredible things that they do (http://time.com/4704661/trump-budget-after-school-programs/). I refuse to become adjusted to the notion that those who seek to profit off of education are better suited to run our schools than those of us who have dedicated our careers to improving learning for every student. I refuse to become adjusted to the notion that our government should not protect the rights of our most vulnerable young people (http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2017/03/15/passing-house-bill-610-dismantle-strongest-aspects-public-education). I refuse to become adjusted to an apocalyptic view of American schools (http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/schooled/2017/03/betsy_devos_thinks_schools_could_not_get_much_worse.html).

 

It is one thing to say that we oppose segregation, discrimination, bigotry, and economic injustices, but we must recognize that by becoming adjusted to policies and rhetoric that are creating those conditions; we are part of the problem. America’s educators must become maladjusted to anything other than the premise that our schools exist to support the fact that ALL students can learn. We must rise up and advocate that our nation’s resources reflect the belief that our public schools hold the key to a better life for ALL young people.

Sharing our maladjustment isn’t a safe choice for teachers. There are those that would rather we remain silent and simply become adjusted to the whims of those non-educators who wish to “reform” education. I believe that it is our moral responsibility to become maladjusted to the idea that educators don’t know what is best for our public schools. We must feel empowered to do what we do best and put students first. Public educators must be our students most powerful advocates. The real work of teaching and learning won’t be done by legislators, it will be done by teachers who feel empowered and who are maladjusted to the idea that our schools are anything other than sanctuaries of hope for EVERY young person who walks in our doors.

Steve King Is Who We Think He Is: His Constituents, Not So Much

It would be easy to listen to quotes from Iowa Representative Steve King (R) and make a lot of assumptions about the district that he represents.  Yesterday Rep. King sent out a tweet saying that we can’t “restore our civilization with someone else’s babies.” (https://twitter.com/SteveKingIA/status/840980755236999169).  That’s a quote from a sitting United States congressman.  It is not the first racially-charged comment that he has made.  Rep. King has questioned whether any “subgroup” has contributed more to civilization than Caucasians.  When speaking of immigrants he said, “for everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that–they weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”  He also proudly displays a confederate flag on his desk (http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/politics/2016/07/18/steve-king-creates-uproar-salute-to-contributions-of-white-people/87270220/).  Steve King is who you think he is.  Noted white supremacists such as David Duke (https://twitter.com/DrDavidDuke/status/840991087959379969) and Richard Spencer (https://twitter.com/RichardBSpencer/status/841090733918511104) quickly came to his defense this weekend.  Steve King really is who you think he is.

What about the people in his district?  What does it say about them that they have elected him to congress eight times?  This district, to the surprise of no one, is 93% white.  It is a little older and it is more rural than most of the rest of the country.  I have lived in Northwest Iowa and I have many friends and family from Northwest Iowa.  They aren’t bad people, but they long for a different time in America.  The faces around them are changing.  As those faces change a guy like Rep. King shows up and talks about American values.  As he talks about those American values he throws in buzzwords “subgroup” and he talks about how much Caucasians have done for civilization.  Borrowing from Aaron Sorkin, whatever the problems of Northwest Iowa are, Steve King isn’t the least bit interested in solving them.  He is only interested in two things, making them afraid of it, and telling them who to blame for it.

He has tapped into the fear of decent people.  I have no idea what is actually in Rep. King’s heart.  He may actually believe the racist things that he says, but the sad truth is that, through his white supremacist rhetoric, he has painted his whole district as a safe haven for people who believe the things he says.  We aren’t born wanting to hate.  We aren’t born intolerant. We are taught to hate and we are taught intolerance.  Steve King has helped to teach people to be afraid of those who are different.  In the musical South Pacific, a soldier says something very wise, “You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear, you’ve got to be taught from year to year, it’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear, you’ve got to be carefully taught.”  Voices like those of Steve King find a home in a place like Northwest Iowa because the world is changing fast and it is easy to be afraid of the unknown.  Family farming will never look the same again.  The manufacturing sector will never look the same again and it helps to have someone to blame for those changes; Steve King knows that.

David Duke seems to be encouraging intolerant people who are afraid of a world that is changing rapidly to head to Northwest Iowa.  I think they would be disappointed.  The truth is that the people of Northwest Iowa are hardworking people who are trying to figure out what to make of this changing world.  I believe that they will soon discover that Steve King is on the wrong side of history.  When hate and fear are replaced by education and an appreciation for the unique perspectives that come with more diversity, Rep. King’s rhetoric will cease to resonate.  The people of Northwest Iowa are good people who want what we all want; they want to be safe, they want to be prosperous, and they want to leave their corner of the world better than they found it.  That is exactly what my immigrant forbearers wanted for their family, and it is exactly what our newest American families want as well.

The president in the movie “The American President” says, “We’ve got serious problems, and we need serious people.”  This is a time for serious people, and Steve King, your fifteen minutes are up.

 

Why Do You Want Me To Be Afraid?

I have a fear of ringing telephones. It goes back to my childhood when the phone would ring and my father would say, “nothing good is ever on the other end of that phone.” While the person on the other end of the phone was sometimes a friend or family member who was hoping to share something cheerful, it was also often bad news or simply an annoyance. I have no idea if lots of people cringe at the sound of a ringing phone, but it gives me the heebie-jeebies every time I hear one.
Lately, it feels like a lot of people want me to be afraid of a lot of stuff. In recent days I have been asked to be afraid of transgendered people in bathrooms, immigrants, Sharia law, failing schools, people from the inner cities, the news media, and much more. The weird thing is that the people telling me to be afraid of all of this don’t seem to have encountered transgender people in their bathrooms, immigrants wishing to do them harm, schools that aren’t doing their best, anyone trying to impose Sharia law on them, people from the inner cities threatening their safety, or are being forced to read or watch news that they don’t care to engage with. But, they seem afraid of some or all of these things anyway, and they want me to be afraid as well.
Here is the difficult thing, I recognize that there are bad people in the world. I recognize that there are schools that are struggling to meet the needs of the kids who walk in their doors. I recognize that the news we all consume has different points of view. I can recognize all of that without being afraid of problems that don’t exist.
I have used public restrooms all of my life. I never gave it a second thought until a few years ago. I have a friend who is deathly afraid of public restrooms. When we would travel together and need to make use of public facilities you could see the fear come across her face. As a person who had never been afraid of such a thing, I was fascinated by her fear. As she described her state of mind, suddenly I became afraid as well. The thing is, the things she was afraid of were real. She was afraid of things that you could see, touch, and smell in those restrooms. Suddenly her fear became my fear and I now go into public restrooms with a whole new appreciation for the scary things that lurk in them. But, suddenly there are those who tell me to be afraid of public restrooms because of something that there is no evidence exists. While it is entirely possible I’ve shared a restroom with a transgendered person, not one of them has done me any harm. The only people I’ve ever been afraid of in a public restroom are the pale drunk guys next to me who have bad aim; that’s something to be afraid of. If someone wants to write a bill making it illegal for drunk guys to pee on my shoes, I’m in.
It’s hard to be afraid of immigrants when the immigrants I encounter are hard working, kind, and only hoping for a better life. I suspect that they are much like my immigrant ancestors who came to this country in order to achieve the American Dream. While there are surely immigrants who commit illegal acts in our country and should be deported, I also see the crime committed by American citizens a little too close to my home. The guy who shot two police officers a few blocks from my home wasn’t an immigrant; he was just a bad guy. What if we all just agreed to be afraid of the bad guys? As a matter of fact, let’s not so much be afraid of them as agree that we need to help them before they do bad things and punish them appropriately when they do bad things. That doesn’t have anything to do with where they are from or the color of their skin.
I have been told to be afraid of Sharia law in recent days. I wasn’t that familiar with Sharia law, so I studied a little bit about it (http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2016/07/19/asifa-quraishi-landes-5-myths-shariah-law). According to Muslim scholar Imam Suhaib Webb, the five things that Sharia law aims to preserve are: Life, learning, family, property, and honor. I’m not sure why I’m supposed to be afraid of that. In honesty, I’m more afraid of politicians who want to take my tax dollars and provide monetary support to religious schools. That’s a real thing that is happening.
There are real problems in our world. Too many people go to bed hungry and cold each night, too many people don’t have access to quality health care, too many people who aren’t able to go to college, there is too much violence, and there is too much hate. I wish I had answers to all of that, but I know the answer isn’t to waste our time trying to solve problems that don’t exist. Those who want us to be afraid of non-existent problems have an agenda; it’s not my agenda. Those who want to feed the hungry, clothe the homeless, make our schools the best in the world, and provide shelter to those in need have an agenda as well. We’re not paid protestors, we aren’t snowflakes, nor are we the enemy of the American people. We just want to address the real problems that we actually see.
You don’t have to be afraid of the phone ringing or someone peeing on your shoe, those are my fears. Just don’t expect me to be afraid of things that aren’t worthy of my fear.