You are a lobster in a pot full of cool tap water. The question is: Is the water still cold? Because you’re still the lobster. And you’re still in that cookware, we know this much is true. But has anyone ignited the gas below? Has the flame started licking the bottom of the pot?
I think it has. And I think you need to do something, before you’re boiled alive. Because we’re all lobsters, every last person on this earth, in the same damn pot. And we don’t want to go from lobster to seafood.
Last Tuesday, on June 26th, history was made when the United States Supreme Court declared the so-called travel ban of several Muslim-majority countries constitutional, citing terrorist protection to convince people that the population of several countries is a threat to national security. Until Tuesday, I didn’t realize that the actions of a few mislead people characterized the values of every person within that population. I mean, I thought we learned our lesson during World War II with Japanese Internment camps. But for some reason, our totalitarian government, I mean democratic government, still believes that if you look like who we think the enemy is, you are the enemy.
The word on the street is that Trump, may he one day rot in hell, I mean, bless his soul, is just looking out for the United States. (I’m sorry, I seem to have a little frog in my throat.) He’s not being racist. Not one little bit. And I mean, when you look at his past history when speaking about these countries, it makes total sense.
In September 2015, Trump pledged to kick all Syrian refugees out of the United States because he was suspicious they were forming a secret army. He even went as far as to call these displaced people ISIS. One month later, he told Fox News he was open to closing mosques in the United States. In 2016, he blamed Sharia Law for the terrorist attack in Brussels. That July, he said the following about the proposed ‘travel’ ban:
“Our Constitution is great, but it doesn’t necessarily give us the right to commit suicide, okay? Now, we have a religious — you know, everybody wants to be protected. And that’s great. And that’s the wonderful part of our Constitution. I view it differently. Why are we committing suicide? Why are we doing that?”
SOURCE: (‘I think Islam hates us’ a timeline of Trump’s Comments about Islam’, Washington Post).
Donald Trump believes embracing Islamic culture in the United States is suicide. Think of all the terrorists lurking in airports, on our soil, he urges us in, of course, less eloquent terms. This was exactly the reason FDR called for the internment of the Japanese. He was afraid of espionage. Not convinced the internment wasn’t racist? Let’s talk about the Holocaust. Jewish people have been discriminated against since the ancient world, and after The Enlightenment, in which religious acceptance was emphasized, many anti-Semitic feelings took racial form. (The Holocaust, history.com)
A lot of people roll their eyes when comparisons are made between modern times and historical disasters, calling them anomalies. Their two main defenses, it seems, A) It’s 2018, and B) It’s not that bad, you’re being overdramatic. The 2018 response doesn’t make any sense; it’s been a modern year every year prior to 2018 while it was happening. People have been citing arbitrary measures of time to argue that history won’t repeat itself since we started keeping track. But that brings me to my argument against point B: that human nature really hasn’t changed much in since Anno Domini. Our society right now is just as vulnerable as it was during World War II. The only difference is that we understand our behavior a little bit better, and it’s a lot like a lobster in a pot on the stove submerged in cool tap water. In Milgram’s famous shock experiment, a lab technician sits the test subject down at a desk with buttons that deliver incrementing levels of electric shock to a “learner”, who they are told is another test subject in the opposite room, but really is just an actor. The learner has to recite a lists of words the “teacher” at the desk reads off to them via an intercom system. Each time the learner messes up, the teacher delivers the next shock. As the shocks get higher and higher, the learner becomes more and more averse to them, at one point screaming, “Please! I have heart problems!” Eventually, the learner fails to speak all together, indicating that they lost consciousness or died. Whenever the teacher started to get upset, they would ask the technician if they should continue, or express their concerns. The technician would reply, “The experiment requires that you continue.” And in nearly every case, the learner delivered every last shock. And that last shock was 450 volts, which is beyond enough to kill a human being. But, you see, the first shock was only 15 volts. Practically harmless. The experiment started out in cool tap water. That’s the key, really, to get anyone to do anything: cool tap water. Start slow, and work your way up to 450 volts.
SOURCE: (Milgram’s Experiment on Obedience to Authority, nature.berkley.edu)
In psychology, it’s called the foot in the door theory. It’s how people become involved with cults and then swallow a dose of cyanide-laced Kool-Aid, how genocides begin, and how we, as human beings, can pull the trigger and be swept up into one of history’s great mistakes. So I’ll ask you again, how’s the water?
Because it’s a bit warm for my taste.
But so what? What can you do about it? You didn’t turn the stove on in the first place. Is there a solution? I would argue that yes, there is.
First, wear your heart on your sleeve. Dig your hands deep inside your chest and rip it out. Hold it, still beating, in your hands, and then tie it to your forearm. Let the news scrape it away, and let the world kick and scratch and tear away at it. Let your heart soak up their hurt. And then heal it by taking action. Heal through standing up, through shouting. Activism isn’t so much about maintaining certain opinions as it is about persistence. As long as the heat’s getting turned up, we, collectively, as a nation, have to keep showing up for human rights. We have to keep fighting for ourselves and for others, whether they practice another religion, look different, or speak another language. Don’t tolerate hate; it’s that simple. This ban isn’t about terrorism, and it never was. Do you think the internment was ever really about espionage? Or do you think that our nation’s underlying hatred manifested itself into law so slowly so that people failed to see what it really was?
Maybe me and you can’t reach to turn the heat down on our own, but that doesn’t mean we’re powerless. We can talk to the people in the kitchen. For starters, you can write a letter to your state senators asking them to rescind the Muslim ban. I know I will. Tell them the heat’s turning up. Remind them that the same human behaviors that violated human rights in the past are very much innate and alive today. As a matter of fact, here’s a link to finding your state senators and their contact information:
I’d also recommend signing this petition created by the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) to rescind the ban. They’re trying to get 100,000 people to sign, and it only takes 2 minutes. You should be one. I am. Here’s a link:
Oh, and you can check out any rallies or protests going on near you. A few years ago, I started going to events like these, and they’re not as scary as they look on TV. They’re peaceful. They concentrate on making your voice heard. And they’re cathartic; you often get to literally scream at your state house. And the chants are usually really clever, like “No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here.” And right now, who doesn’t want to scream that from the top of their lungs? So talk to your friends, make a sign out of cardboard, poster board or construction paper, grab a to-go coffee and show up for justice. Here’s a link to track events in your area:
Lastly, encourage those around you to get active. Spark conversations. Get people angry, ask them if the water really is fine. Post these links on your blog or personal social media, and try to get others to help you turn down the heat. To quote Merrill Martin Garbus of the indie band the Tune-Yards, When you do nothing, you still do something. When you do nothing, you are pushing, you are shoving.
Peace out or whatever.