by Patricia Keenum
Editor’s Note: We at Reran Tragedy are happy to share the views of Patricia Keenum, the regional vice president of the American Center for Diversity and Acceptance in New York City.
Ms. Keenum has worked on the fight to get rid of Alabama’s tough immigration law, carrying out the organization’s regional office’s mission of “not just condemning Southern racists as wrong-minded, socially fracturing individuals who hold inexcusable views that no history or need for person affirmation can justify, but frequently reminding those racists that their type of bad, bad views would not be tolerated in New York City.”
Even though I must live in a place so backwards and so small-minded as Birmingham, I have been able to bring together the kind of diversity in my life that every American needs.
Some may say that because everything in Alabama can be quite homogeneous and segregated groups like mine need to make an effort to expose cultures they are not familiar with in order to Alabamians to break down the barriers of lack of knowledge that fuel such frightened contempt and hatred.
I just say you people don’t try as hard as we do in New York City.
And that you should listen when you tell you about how things like HB56 are bad.
You see, despite living here, my best friends are a proud black lesbian and a Filipino gay man — both with roots in Alabama that extend back a generation. Indeed, I frequently lunch with work colleagues who are also true Alabamians, though some redneck might disagree because they are Muslim, Jewish and Buddhist.
But last week I was horrified when my colleagues and I encountered what could soon be the biggest thing wrong with this country.
We were waiting in line at the coffee shop we frequent every day when a well-dressed low-pigmented American (our term for what you racially sensitive hillbillies call “white people”) came in asking for directions. He said he was a lawyer looking for another law office for a negotiation. He seemed nice enough, so when it turned out his session was canceled, we asked him to stay and join our multi-ethnic and interfaith circle for a cup of coffee.
He said no to coffee. Immediately my heart rate went up.
Something was wrong here.
I asked him why. He tried to brush it off, but finally, it came out:
“I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,” he said.
We nearly fainted.
In our coffee shop?
Immediately, we began pummeling him with questions. My colleagues begged to know how many slave wives he had subjugated and kidnapped from their home countries on his “mission” trip. We demanded to know how much cruel ex-gay therapy he had personally overseen. We wanted to know how many children he had by the time he was 20 in order to build up his army of racist, conservative, homophobic Mormon warriors to fill our ballots with more hatred.
He pretended to be kind, “explained” that he wasn’t “like that,” and that he would be “willing” to explain his faith and misconceptions of it if we wanted.
Then we pressed him. Did he disagree with gay marriage? Was he anti-abortion?
He said, “Yes.”
Our hearts dropped.
“Get out!” I shouted. “Your kind isn’t welcome here!”
Now, we are not afraid of Mormons just because they are a religion that believes some outlandish things. Unlike those paranoid Christian theocrats on the far right, we do not judge them like that. I have never referred to them as “a cult.”
No, like similar-minded friends proud to be diehard liberals, I think Mormons should be stopped because of the things because they believe things that just aren’t plausible or understandable to me. Unlike we who make every effort to be welcoming and diverse in all areas of their life, they do not, and that is just weird and wrong because it is not what we, who enjoy and believe in our lifestyles, would do.
Worst of all, they channel all that hateful disagreement with things different than their lifestyle into politics. While we are working to make the world open, they are attempting to keep the world closed. If it were up to them, John Kennedy would never have been president because some Morm-ron would charge he was taking his orders from the Pope.
And that is why we can’t let Mitt Romney and his deranged Mormon beliefs take over our White House.
Look at their history! They have an appalling record of treatment of women and minorities they tried to justify based on their faith. Clearly, no other major religion can be accused of the same.
Like you HB56-loving Southerners, if Mormons wish to win over New Yorkers such as myself who live the free and open lifestyle our founders intended, they must make an effort to understand where we are coming from, not just dismiss our views as wrong.
You people need to stop just mindlessly pointing out the laws and ideas we support are wrong as if we care about you outsiders’ opinions enough to just change instantly.
And above all, if you think we are wrong, you must show us why — make things that seem inhuman to us feel human — in ways that appeal to us, not someone from another part of the country.
Because how can you so adamantly dismiss what you do not understand?
Reran Tragedy is Weld’s satirical blog about politics and life in Alabama and the South. Much of what you will read here is fictionalized, except for all the parts that are unfortunately true because they are about politics and life in Alabama and the South. You can follow it on Twitter @ReranTragedy. You can reach the blog’s author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The artist known as Cal Alabaster Jr., if that is his or her real name, may or may not also be the author of the Alabama humor blog called “King Cockfight.” If true, you may read Cal’s work there at kingcockfight.wordpress.com