In September 2001, I was naive and believed all the hot air that I was hearing about tolerance and not to stereotype people. For example, I believed that a bill, the Patriot Act, that had near unanimous approval was not an overreaction--then I actually read the law. I believed what President Bush said to a joint session of Congress:
"I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect your faith. It's practiced freely by many millions of Americans, and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah. The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself. The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends; it is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them."I was a sucker, and did not realize that we would soon attack two Muslim countries, men who look Muslim would be excluded from airplanes, and the first Muslim elected to Congress would be asked on a national television show how we could trust him? So, now we are told not to jump to conclusions about immigrants or those with a mental illness after the shootings at Virginia Tech. Well, maybe I am jaded or just wiser, but I believe there will be some big changes for mentally ill people. When the United States acts in haste in response to a national tragedy, civil rights usually go out the window. From World War II and the Japanese American forced into concentration camps to the stomping on privacy and individual liberty in the name of fighting terrorism today, we often go overboard with our answer to a crisis.
Are we going to build a bunch of asylums? Are we going to confine people to extended stays in the hospital against their will? Are we going to force people to take medicine against their will? Or are we going to build forced labor camps for immigrants or those bipolar folks in our community? I know that we are not going to provide health care and housing for our citizens, and everything short of that will just make their lives miserable.
Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.