It’s about three weeks ago. Yair and I are invited to dinner at a home. As the main course is served, the conversation becomes undesirably sticky. Unprovoked, our host jumps right into politics.
“This president (Obama) is not a friend of Israel. Bush wasn’t even a true friend of Israel, suggesting to split Jerusalem. God told us what He wants, and God is going to get what He wants. You can’t mess with that. And American Muslims – they’re the worst of all. You know that they’re just waiting their time until they’re in the majority to take over and make everyone believe in Allah. Just read the Koran. You have to be careful with them.”
What?! Who are you, insane man? I am in his home and try to be respectful but having spent a significant period of my undergrad with the Muslim Student Union, I can’t not speak up – at least about American Muslims because I understand that the education system, culture values and overall dynamic of the Muslim community may be very different overseas. I opt for something mild like “I strongly disagree and you have to understand X, Y and Z”.
Then our dinner host tries to convert us. Now I am capable of debating someone until the sun rises (thanks Dad), but my real nature is one of complete conflict avoidance (thanks Mom) and so I try to subtly indicate that I’d rather not be converted at this time. But no dice – he keeps going. I tell him three times that I am not interested in Jesus and it eventually starts to sink in. Making small talk, I ask him – since he came to faith later in life – if he struggles with reconciling previously held beliefs with Biblical verses that say to stone those who violate the Sabbath, that homosexuality is an abomination, that slavery is / was permitted, etc.
I should have known better because he goes off on a tirade about how “the research shows that gay people were all sexually abused growing up and lacked father figures, and that’s why it takes so much effort to fix them”.
At this point, I feel my chest getting tighter and my breath getting shorter and I’m choking on my own lack of air. Not only have I been sympathetic to GLBT rights since my undergrad when the topic first entered my radar screen, but one of the closest and dearest friends that I made this year is a lesbian and I consider myself to be an ally of and an advocate for the community. Breathe in, breathe out. I attempt a response. “With respect, that’s completely false. Research and experience show that…”
This post is continued in Dining With Bigots (Part 2 of 2).
posted by ayo