The rise of Donald Trump and his brand of xenophobic ethno-nationalism has led to a sharp uptick in racist attacks against Muslim-Americans – and any other minority groups that arise the ire of his ignorant followers. A Buddhist monk in Hood River, Oregon, was getting out of his car today when an unknown assailant slammed his head in the car door while yelling obscenities about Muslims.
“I pulled over, someone ran up and yelled. I turned around, they kicked the door, hit me in the side of the face and knocked my head into the frame of the car. I do remember [him yelling] an F bomb [about] Muslims, and that was it” recounted Kozen Sampson, 66. Heinous hate crime aside, Buddhist monks, known for their bright orange robes, have nothing to do with Islam and it really highlights just how shamefullyt ignorant most Americans are about other cultures.
However, Sampson feels no ill will against his attacker or the passerbys who failed to assist him. In a powerful message of virtue and tolerance, Sampson said that he was happy he had been attacked instead of a Muslim:
“I am happy it happened to me and not to a Muslim. My biggest concern is for how anyone has to live with the fear and the distrust and the possibility of an assault. I don’t know the Islamic faith well, but I do know that Muslims are our brothers and sisters and I would encourage everyone to just take a hard look at how supportive are you of all God’s children. We have a country trying to find its tone.
There are some politicians who have people riled up as they seek to build their power base. They are not seeing everyone as a part of the human family. We need to find a kinder way to approach our differences and look at the rest of life. I like to quote a sign I saw at an Episcopal church: ‘Either we are all God’s children or none of us God’s children.’ That would be my takeaway.
You never think it will happen in your neighborhood and affect you personally. How many of us have let these things go by, even if just in our own mind, having these kind of thoughts rather than taking people as they come.”
It’s an important message that fake Christians like Trump and his bigoted supporters should learn from. Instead of taking his attack personally and giving into the primitive, knee-jerk responses of anger and fear, he strives to use it as a teaching moment to remind all Americans that our differences are superficial and are only as important as we make them. Our nation is a melting pot of cultures and peoples from all around the world; our unity and diversity our greatest strength. These vicious attacks against minorities cannot be tolerated; they are an existential threat to the values our nation was founded on.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.