Monday, December 3, 2007

What I Learn By Being Silent


NEW YORK, Manhattan On Broadway, after Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's lecture/debate at Columbia University I walked around outside to observe the chaos. Jewish and Christian anti-support on one side, community supporters, Middle-Eastern and students on the other. The line was clearly defined. Mixed in were the curious and the event chasers; those whom wanted to be part of the energy of the moment. They were all there playing out a script written by a Power no one truly understood, considered or even wanted to acknowledge. They were the seeds that will grow the madness that will effect the world around them. An infectious passion that will ripple in waves around the world with voices, radio and microwaves, print and paper, it will be the true Monster unleashed on an empty consciousness.

The amount of police security was typical for an event of this caliber. New York is very good with this type of circus. Not long ago I attended a rally against Police Brutality in Midtown just outside of Madison Square Garden and the riot police stood on the sides as if they represented the "defenders of truth" in war gear and bullet proof jackets. As a protester against Police Brutality, I felt very safe.

Streets were cut off and blocked, Secret Service (not so secret when you can clearly see who they are) were floating through the crowds like linebackers through pre-schoolers. Helicopters beat blades camping sky-side keeping watch as media deities should. Billboards and handwritten signs, fliers and invitations littered the grounds. Words in bold, words in bright, words that proclaimed we all should. "Free Iran", "Christians United for Israel", "Hitler Lives", "Stop War", "Stop Iran From Going Nuclear", "Honk If Bush Is A Terrorist", "Judaism Rejects Zionist" and so many more. My digital camera ate up the captured moments for long term storage and I constantly flipped through the assorted images burning the reality of passion meeting chaos head on and hard in my mind.

I watched the yelling and screaming of Jews vs Non-Jews as the term "Anti-Semite" rang throughout the air. Reporters dancing throughout the crowds hurrying for quotes like bees buzzing through barren fields for pollen near the end of summer. The "Boos" and jeers of people when debates were won and the losers caught with their passions in their throats. Then there were the ones who only wanted knowledge. Eyes like saucers they searched from speaker to speaker for a morsel of truth, a faint piece of "between the line" evidence lost by editors. They hurried from one group to the next, eyes and minds stretching thin to absorb whatever they can to build an opinion in a sea of ignorance, hate and fear.

There were the Jews vs. Jews, or in this case, Jews against Zionist and Christians for Jews, Patriots against Liberals, Yeshiva University against Columbia University and then there were Jews and Muslims side by side against Jew and Christians in mass. People laughed and people cried and some I feared would have heart attacks for hearts were attacked, beaten and broken. By dusk, more helicopter blades cut into air above us as they danced perfect circles in a clear sky. And it was loud.

An American Muslim from Harlem gathered a small group of on watchers as he preached the history of Prussia; politically referred to today as Iran and Iraq. An Orthodox Jew from Brooklyn read from the Torah and people sat on the pavement and listened. I watched several off-side debates between several Columbia Professors and a single pro-Bush Patriot from the Upper Westside; he lost the debate and stomped off into the distance cursing, "Liberals are destroying this Country!"

Fox, CNN, C-Span, BBC, The Associated Press, MTV, MSNBC, NY1, Bloggers and student reporters claimed their spots to tell Americans their perspectives on "The Monster" that came to America and then the police came afterwards to keep us "more" safe, they made sure the onlookers kept it moving. And they did move.

Fathers brought their Sons, Mothers brought their Daughters and I thought what will their experiences bring to their dreams tonight. What images will burn indelibly on the mind. What passions will they inherit and what logic will be lost after all is said and done. I know as a child seeing Black people demonstrating in the streets, police beating back protesters, fires and shattered store windows all painted clear and brightly on my conscious as men in uniform carried off my family who were simple standing on the sidelines for my protection.

I kept my mouth closed and my mind open.

When it was over, I came home, ate dinner, and thanked God that I am a Man of logic and not a man of passion -- at least for that today.

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