live in a community where people are not concerned
about their neighbor's skin color, sexual preference,
religion, or ethnicity. Black, white, gay, straight,
Vietnamese, Cambodian, Italian, Irish, German, Catholic,
Protestant, Jew, Muslim, it makes no difference. We
live in close proximity. Our children go to the same
schools. We shop at the same stores. We don't have
to live here. It's just that the melting pot is far
more interesting, to us, than living in a world where
everyone looks and talks and dresses and worships
and thinks and hates alike.
I'm not claiming that the United States is a perfect
society. In the richest nation in the world, children
still go to bed hungry. In the most powerful empire
the world has ever seen, nearly fifty million people
lack health insurance. My government appears unable
or unwilling to figure out how to feed the hungry,
house the homeless, and build schools instead of
bombs. After more than 2,500 American soldiers and
100,000 Iraqi civilians have died, Mr. Bush and
friends still talk about "staying the course"
in Iraq. When the Israeli military smashes houses
and bridges and power plants, killing women and
children in Gaza, and now Lebanon, Mr. Bush and
friends praise Israel for waging war on terrorism.
In spite of all this, you'd have to look long and
hard to find an American citizen who would openly
celebrate the murder of an innocent 15-year-old
kid. Yes, stalwart members of the Klu Klux Klan
and their neo-Nazi friends might enjoy seeing a
black woman raped, a black man lynched, or a Jew
murdered. But I'm quite certain that even throwbacks
like the KKK would avoid distributing a video celebrating
their own hate crimes. Nor would they wear clothing
imprinted with slogans celebrating the murder of
So, when I learned that someone in Northern Ireland
has produced a video that mocks the murder of Michael
Mcllveen, I was more than shocked. To tell the truth,
I felt a deep sadness for the person who appears
in the video wearing a "F*ck Mickey Bo"
Jersey. I'm sure the person sporting that sadistic
jersey thinks that he or she is standing up for
some noble cause. But I also suspect that beneath
the macho posing this individual is terribly frightened.
Beneath the bigoted bravado, this person is terrified
of people who may not look or think or dress or
worship the way they do.
I do know what it feels like to carry the burden
of hating people because of their skin color, their
race, religion, sexuality, or political beliefs.
When I was boy, hatred of outsiders was the bond
that held my family, my church, my neighbors and
friends together. At some point, I discovered that
the basis for our hatred was fear. I realized that
we did not want to meet the people we hated because,
at some deep level, we suspected that we might actually
I would like to extend an invitation to the people
who made the "Mickey Bo" video, and also
the people who wear those jerseys scrawled with
hateful slogans, to visit my neighborhood. I'll
put you up, feed you, and take you on a tour of
the multi-cultural city in which I live and work.
I will introduce you to Vietnam Veterans who, conditioned
to hate communists and "Orientals," fought
in the jungles and rice paddies of Southeast Asia.
If you care to do so, you can ask them to talk about
the price they paid, and continue to pay, for embracing
their nation's hateful rhetoric. If you are willing,
I will invite Jews and Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists,
Catholics and Protestants, to my home. You might
find it interesting to see these people sitting
together as friends. We could have a barbecue in
my back yard and invite Chicanos, Indians, and African
Americans to talk about the joys and difficulties
of living, side by side. in a multi-cultural society.
I just returned from New York City, the most diverse
metropolitan area in the world, where I spent several
days interacting with more than one hundred people.
We came from different walks of life, we represented
all of the world's great religions, and we practiced
different lifestyles. With the exception of African
Americans and Native Americans in our group, our
ancestors had immigrated to the United States, some
long ago, others more recent. We talked and laughed.
We shared our hopes and fears. And we experienced
a wonderful joy because we accepted, and we embraced,
our common humanity.
My invitation to people whose hatred compels them
to ridicule and insult a grieving family is quite
sincere. I know as much as you do, perhaps even
more, about hatred. I won't go into that right now,
except to say that I have paid, and forced others
to pay, a terrible price for my own violent social
If you are interested in exploring ways to create
new possibilities for living, without enemies, I
would very much like to begin that conversation.