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Donna Smith

Donna Smith, American SiCKO, is executive director of the Health Care for All Colorado Foundation

September 11th, 2010 3:17 AM

For One Day, No Hate Crime

The world mobilizes around the issue of religious intolerance – and the media has done its part. The Gainesville minister who shows hatred and religious intolerance on behalf of a Christian God clearly does not speak for all Christians even if he claims to know the will of God. Hatred kills. Hatred abhors justice. Hatred shatters peace. Hatred slams airplanes into buildings. Hatred allows sick people to die when life-saving treatment is only a few dollars away.

So, most sane people on earth think destroying the things other people believe sacred is wrong. It is hateful to destroy and burn. It’s a hate crime of the highest order. If we could and would stop someone from committing a murder if it were in our power, then it seems logical that we should stop someone – like the nutty Gainesville minister – from committing a hate crime.

In my view, killing people who cannot afford the healthcare they need is a hate crime too, but our society and our world sure isn’t there with me yet or we’d have the media knocking down the doors of every corporate healthcare provider in the country and demanding to report on the murders. We’d name those who allowed the death along with those who died. Nothing is more hateful than standing aside and pretending we don’t know or see that someone is sick or hurt. Ignoring it or forgetting it or moving on to reports about Koran-burning doesn’t stop the dead from dying.

It’s 9/11 time again. It would be great if the current controversy about the potential hate crime in Gainesville resolved without incident. It would be even greater if we’d take a break on 9/11 from all hate crimes – even killing patients without enough cold, hard cash or gold-plated credit cards or gold-level health insurance – just for one day as a start to our shared commitment to a more just world in which we can argue about the toughest of issues but in which we also protect one another from the hatred of a few.

One of my sons was born on 9/11. His birth was one of the most joyful moments of my life. Since 9/11/01, I have made an effort to do some kind of additional kindness on 9/11 for someone who appears to need it. I want 9/11 to be about life and about joy and about justice and about peace. I don’t intend to forget its history – quite the contrary. I want to shape it into an event that helped push us all to at least work for tolerance and for a better world. Simplistic? That’s OK with me. 9/11 can become a day that we recall horror and fear and turn it into more consistent and insistent call for better.

I do not stop my advocacy for transformative change of the hateful healthcare system, but I add a decent act or two and try to make the day something I look forward to and others might remember with a tiny bit of joy shared.

Maybe we could call a halt to hate crimes every September 11th. No more hate crimes we saw coming and could have stopped. We could start with not letting any one who worked to save lives on 9/11/01 die because they cannot access appropriate healthcare. No more allowing the first responders to suffer on 9/11 because they responded on 9/11. Educate your self about their plight if you’ve not been watching and listening.

One day, many years ago, I brought life into the world on 9/11. Nothing will wipe away that history any more than we can wipe away the 9/11/01 attacks. But the odd-ball minister in Florida does not need to add to that history, unless we let him. But we could add our own 9/11 stories – of justice, of compassion, of joy and of the desire to live in a more peaceful world.

Let’s call a moratorium on hate crime on 9/11. One day. Let’s not destroy. Let’s rebuild. If we show intolerance, let it be intolerance of the suffering of others. We can do better by one another. And at least on 9/11, I hope we do.

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