The Bengals-Steelers playoff game last night was not only terrifically painful to watch – many are using terms like “disgraceful” and “low point in NFL history” to describe what happened on the field. The game also exposed an atmosphere of ugliness bordering on mob violence that extends well beyond the NFL to our current political season in the United States. The “head-hunting” of both the players and the crowd felt uncomfortably resonant with events that unfolded two nights ago at a campaign event in South Carolina.
Mob violence? Yes, the toxic lure of collective scapegoating morphing easily into violence that is the constant temptation for human beings who run and think, speak and act, in herds. All of it has been on full display this week, and it suggests we are edging dangerously close to normalizing a kind of fascist public and political environment in America. The disgust many felt while watching the football game mirrors the ugliness of our own collective behavior, unrestrained, unapologetically on display, 24/7, in the political landscape.
Thus the quiet courage and symbolic force of Rose Hamid, her hijab, and the Yellow Star identifying her as a Muslim, which she wore to the Trump rally on Friday night.
Watch, listen, and maybe everyone can learn something from Rose Hamid’s dignified silence, which spoke volumes. Both she and the people spewing hatred in the crowds at both events reflect dual potentialities that dwell in all of us. Which “face” do I wish to bring into the world? Which face is representative of “us,” our collective hopes and aspirations as a nation? Which face do we want the world to see?