Tolerating Religious Diversity vs. Endorsing Terrorism

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drawing.jpgWhen you’ve been terrorized by a group of people, how do you refuse to tolerate their tactics without losing sight of their humanity? Before spending a lot of time discussing this on Monday I didn’t realize that this was a central question I’d been grappling with.

For a long while, each interaction with individual participants in the anti-Kyeann and Mom terror campaign was painfully taxing. How could this person hate me bad enough to poison my food? Try to upset me while cutting my hair? Ridicule me based on private information he never should have been able to access? Take part in an entrapment scheme? Place listening or viewing devices in my home? Stalk me?

There have been a variety of players with a variety of motivations but it’s clear that there is a small army of extreme right wing zealots in our city, ready to be activated to terrorize people when given the go-ahead. It’s also clear that in our case this is a culmination of years of ideologically based harassment. What they have taken part in recently is the dictionary definition of terrorism: “the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.”
Finally, to be able to deal with the unending onslaught, it has become necessary to view these people simply as terrorists who will hate us no matter what. This categorization eliminates the need to explain each individual creepy act. Why do they do what they do? Well, why do Taliban throw acid on the faces of girls who are simply trying to go to school? There’s no rational explanation, but clearly it’s not behavior that is rooted in the premises of our founding documents --. not behavior within the bounds of our shared compact as U.S citizens. Not behavior that should in any way be tolerated.

There's a dilemma, though, because once they're categorized as "terrorists" I stop thinking about their humanity. They become objectified to some degree. This makes life easier for me, but as someone who has been propagandized and objectified ad nauseum, I still feel responsible to give them space in other parts of my brain.

How are these people moved to such extreme views and tactics? People create private, ideologically based armies because they are afraid and feel as though their world views are under threat. And/or, they clearly believe that terrorizing and harassing us is a means to a righteous end. They feel compelled to redress the evil that they see.

So – how do we separate policy questions that spur people to action from terrorist tactics? How do we sympathize with people’s views without endorsing extremism? How do we ensure that people do not feel marginalized to such a degree that they are compelled to engage in domestic terrorism? Since so much of our harassment seemed to take place at the hands of evangelicals, I have to wonder what can make them feel more comfortable in society at large. There’s clearly a feeling of being besieged by mainstream culture, a sense that secularism is infringing upon their religious freedom.

Quite a few of the moles who have infiltrated my life seem to have also been anti-abortion infiltrators. Many are motivated by the belief that babies are being murdered when abortions occur. It’s not difficult to understand why this is so upsetting. I’m sure that most Americans would be outraged by the idea that their tax dollars were being used to kill babies. Similarly, many Americans are upset by the notion that their tax dollars are used to execute prisoners, or expose service men and women to unnecessary harm, or kill and terrorize foreign civilians, or support infrastructure that leads to such a disproportionate number of automobile-related deaths. It seems unlikely that any sort of consensus will be reached on when life begins. On all sides of debates about death the sense of urgency is understandable – we need to be able to negotiate policies that eliminate both unwanted pregnancies and unnecessary killing of those who we all agree are alive.

Since I've never been any sort of vocal pro-choice advocate, I believe that much of the sustained ideological animus toward me stems from my advocacy for church/state separation as a teenager. I took action after realizing that my 5th grade principal’s proselytizing to my class and handing out bibles was a rights violation. Though I know this has been construed as anti-Christian, I would have felt compelled to act if my principal had handed out the Koran as well. I’m sure that many of the people who were offended by my action would have complained bitterly if a public school principal had been advising students to seek guidance from Allah as they made the passage to middle school. It wasn’t about being anti-Christian, but recognizing that students have the right to go to public school without encountering proselytizing.  If parents had given permission slips, and we received information from a variety of faiths, it would have been a different story.

We can have reasoned discussion about policy, about how to agree to disagree and share this country. People of all stripes deserve protected speech. But the First Amendment also means that we do not share a theocracy. There is a fine line between tolerance of religious diversity, and allowing evangelical armies to vanquish “devils” like my mother and me using terrorist tactics.  I know what it feels like to be on the other end of such dehumanization, and it doesn’t feel like America.

I'm not going to hate the people who have terrorized, harassed, defamed and humiliated me. I'm not going to assume that those who were doing so out of faith represent all Christians or Evangelicals, but I will insist that we all -- Christian, Muslim, Jew, Atheist, Agnostic -- denounce their tactics and make them unacceptable.


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Six Hours A Week Is:

A coping strategy, advocacy outlet, and form of protection. My life has been nearly destroyed by the unconstitutional practices of politically/socially-motivated private intelligence contractors and the corruption and cronyism that allow them. Apparently because I speak out in ways that prioritize the little guy and human and environmental health above gargantuan profit margins, and believe that facts are as important as PR spin, I was someone who had to be completely discredited. In 2007, after a few months of a surreal and relentless invasion of privacy and dignity, I started to spend six hours each week researching, communicating about, and advocating legal and ethical responses to assaults on our shared democratic and republican ideals. For most of that time I was writing from the perspective of someone whose life was manipulated into a constant state of terror and emergency. In 2010, many of the array of entrapment attempts seem to have failed and it seems no longer possible to get away with such excessive, obvious harassment and overt interference. As we take more practical steps to address what has been allowed to happen to my family, we do expect to see some more harassment and intimidation. But I should be able to chronicle it from a more measured perspective, rather than that of someone in constant fear. Part of me would like to go back and delete earlier posts, because even I find them hard to relate to in some ways. But this blog has been one of our only forms of protection as everyone in any official capacity ignored the truth and tried to spin and frame us into the troublemakers and perpetrators of one form or another. So I leave it up as a form of protection, a record of what has occurred, and (with luck) the account of our way back to credibility and some form of legitimate justice. All content on this site is property of Kyeann Sayer. All rights reserved.

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This page contains a single entry by Kyeann published on February 10, 2009 2:23 AM.

Confessions of a Former Eco-Flack: Part 1 was the previous entry in this blog.

Confessions of a Former Eco-Flack: Part 2 is the next entry in this blog.

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