816 Opinion

A weekend of contrasts: From harmony to hatred

Updated: 2013-11-19T19:59:54Z

The doubts about my parental wisdom surfaced as the heavy-set white woman with the Confederate flag draped around her neck started screaming “boy” at the black man across the street.

I was thinking that maybe I shouldn’t have brought my 12-year-old black daughter to the neo-Nazi clownfest held recently in downtown Kansas City.

But then again, now that I’ve had a little time to reflect on it, I believe it was good for her to see and hear what ignorance and hatred looks like. More importantly, she saw how so many more people came to stand against it.

Plus, if we hadn’t gone, she wouldn’t have come up with the killer line about the young skinhead we saw with Hitler tattooed on his neck and the obvious signs of substandard dental hygiene.

“I wanted to knock out the rest of his teeth,” my clever little darling quipped.

The kid cracks me up.

But she’s too young to know that you can’t beat stupid out of people. Or argue it out of them, for that matter.

No amount of logical erudition is going to reach someone who espouses the tenets of the most colossal misguided political failure in history. That’s Naziism for you white-power advocates with a dim understanding of history and no access to a thesaurus.

The events of that Saturday afternoon were for me in jarring juxtaposition to an event I had attended the night before with another darling daughter.

It was a free concert at the Gem Theater that she had learned about at school. I went not having the slightest idea what Heavenese was or what to expect.

It turned out to be something I could never have imagined: A group that combines American-style Gospel with traditional Japanese music.

Throw in some Samurai swordplay, masked stagehands decked out in Ninja black and you get something that was absolutely unique, at least in my experience.

I was initially taken aback because I’m not one who takes kindly to being preached to, but the musicianship, showmanship and enthusiastic charm of the Tokyo-based group won me over. The dueling banjos style duet by two women playing some sort of Japanese stringed instrument was a particular highlight.

The theme of the evening was, unlike the racist hate-fest the next day, all about promoting love and togetherness and understanding.

I know it kind of sounds trite and simplistic, but being among several hundred people of all ages, races and nationalities having a good time together is so much better than listening to the jabbering of a handful of bigots who think everyone should look like them.

What a dull and dismal world that would be.

There would not be a place there for me and my black daughters. And I am grateful for that.

The Confederate flag-wearing big mama who said she drove up from Arkansas to see her white power brethren had this to bellow at one point: Jesus loves you, but I don’t.

That sounds about right for someone who “thinks” like her.

I preferred the thought of the young leader of Heavenese who talked about the agony of Jesus on the cross and his message of loving your enemies.

Forgive them father, for they know not what they do.

To reach Tony Rizzo, call 816-234-4435 or send email to trizzo@kcstar.com.

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