Ichabod's Kin
A place for politics, pop culture, and social issues

HOLIDAY LOVE, LIGHT–AND HEAT

          Our winter holidays are a mishmash of many religions and historical events and thought of in general as celebrations of peace and love. Fancy that, given it’s often a time of anything but.

          Start with love—as in Barbara Love, a young denizen of Greenwich Village who morphed into a lifelong advocate for lesbians to have a place in the American Dream. She and they could have used more love then they got, and most often they suffered hostility and violence.

          In my headier journalistic days in Atlanta I never encountered her. I did catch up with feminist leaders of the time for interviews—including Gloria Steinem and Love’s bestie, Kate Millett. Love’s nemesis though was Betty Friedan with whom I made the mistake of asking the big question too early in the interview, about her opposition to lesbians in the feminist movement. Upon which she abruptly walked out on me—a signature move, as she was already on record for not wanting them around lest it damage the image of the larger movement. The “Lavender Menace” Friedan called them. So Love got little love from every direction but she moved mountains too. She died last month at the age of 85. She would have cheered that Brittney Griner got some big love due to a blockbuster deal that brought her home from Siberia.

          Then there is holiday heat, of which there seems to be more than light at this or any season. It’s best to call a spade a spade but when anyone points out that too much hatred is spewed at minorities, the perps always resent the accusation. What then shall we call it when people don’t want to serve same-sex couples and are willing to go all the way to the Supreme Court about it? A “difference of opinion,” a “spat,” “a mild contrast”?

          No, when you want to push or keep people at the margins of society to the point you interrupt all else you’re doing to make a stink about it, you’ve got some very strong feelings, for which hate is hardly a misnomer. Making laws against others is a way of hurting them and, if unsuccessful, what comes next? Well, book and Cross burnings, along with lynching are old school but now that a good many haters are fully armed, such is now a more favored method of choice. And that’s exactly what’s happening in many places.

          My gift of light this time of year came years ago from a family of German Jews who gave me the treat of a lifetime: the lighting of their Holiday Tree adorned with candles, which necessarily lit for but the briefest moment was a glorious sight. I’ve seen many dramatic Trees but that glimpse is the only one I recall vividly.

It was also emotional because they told me how they came to America: Many Jews early in the Nazi regime first got postcards urging their presence somewhere—after which they simply disappeared. My new friends decided, with various others, to ignore such summonses and quietly leave Germany, which they were allowed to do as what turned out to be, at the time, a simpler, pre-Dachau solution for the government. How symbolic the light of their Tree after the heat of hatred had chased them from their native land.

          So a thought for this time of year: Let’s just love people and try to understand them. Let there be no port for hate here. We lose too many angels unaware as it is, and how many might we miss, unless we get to know them.

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