Fred Phelps, St. Patrick’s Day and Any Known Blood: Tired discrimination
The state of Kansas, U.S.A. recently made headlines for proposed laws that would allow restaurants and businesses to ban gay patrons from their establishments. A sign reading “Service refused to gay couples” appeared in at least one restaurant.
These headlines preceded the death of Fred Phelps (I won’t call him reverend) by about a month. During his lifetime, Phelps loved to make headlines—his even more hate-filled. His “God Hates Fags” tagline summed up his sorry life.
When I saw the picture here, and when I read Fred Phelps’ views on issues, I thought, “Really? Did they learn nothing from history?”
But I take comfort in seeing that their actions, intended to promote discrimination and hate, ended up encouraging more openness and love. Shocking hate prompts us to act with active love.
On St. Patrick’s Day, I remembered that signs reading “No Irish” used to appear in the windows of early New York City establishments. I’m part Irish, so this one piece of knowledge keeps me celebrating the occasion every year.
I re-read Any Known Blood by Lawrence Hill this week, too. At the beginning of the book he cites this passage from An American Dilemma Vol. I, 1944:
Everybody having a known trace of Negro Blood in his veins—no matter how far back it was acquired—is classified as a Negro. No amount of white ancestry, except one hundred per cent, will permit entrance to the white race.
Good heavens, they were really covering all the bases, weren’t they? My father was adopted, so I have “unknown” blood in me. I guess I wouldn’t qualify.
No gays, no Irish, no blacks, no Indians, no Jews, no Japanese, no Mexicans, no women, no men . . . in the course of history, is there any group that hasn’t at one point or another been barred from something?
It makes me tired. Enough already, people.
If you ever feel inspired to put a sign reading “No . . . (anything)” in your window, think again. Such signs say a whole lot more about you than they do about the group of people you’re aiming to keep out.