• Melissa Volker

Appropriately Inappropriate

I have difficulty with this notion that there is an appropriate time to protest injustice and conversely, an inappropriate time. How is it ever inappropriate to protest the oppression and violence against members of our population? How is it ever inappropriate to raise a voice that will be heard to defend and protect the voiceless? How on earth is there an appropriate and an inappropriate time to stand up say that the values of our nation, the equality and justice we are supposed to represent and provide for ALL our citizens is failing miserably and we are not a nation of which to be proud? How is it insulting, demeaning, disrespectful to call out bigots and racists and to decry their growing boldness on the streets of our society and their influence on the fabric (both symbolic and literal) of our nation and demand that we instead rise up and do better?

If your child began acting out, behaving poorly and therefore failing to rise to their potential of goodness, would it be disrespectful to call them on it? To demand they strive for their potential? Isn't it, instead, a signal that you love and care for them to the deepest part of your core that you would stand in front of them and call to task every way in which they are not behaving in the way you have come to expect?

Let us not mix blind, muzzled devotion with pride and respect. Yes, this country offers things so many other countries do not. Anyone who protests is not saying they hate this country. It is, rather, an acknowledgment of all that this country has afforded them, but also calling to task all the ways in which it is failing. All they ways that it is collapsing in on itself. It is saying that we can and should be better, but we are not right now. Not even close. And not only is that the right of every citizen, it is, as our forefathers said, our duty.

How is it an insult to our forefathers and our ancestors to take a knee when the framers of the Constitution insisted that dissent and protest was necessary when our union fails to uphold its intended promises, and when our ancestors came here as immigrants and fought to be equal in this nation -- just as other are now fighting to be immigrants and/or to be equal in this nation?

What is insulting to our forefathers and our ancestors who emigrated here for a better life is pretending we are doing fine, turning the other cheek when so many suffer. What is insulting is implying there is a right and wrong time and place to speak for those who have no voice.

How is it a slap in the face to those who have fought and died for our freedoms by exercising those very freedoms?

What is insulting is remaining in the cocooning bubble so many enjoy because their ancestors fought to make it so, and pretend that others are not still denied that same comfort and safety because of the color of their skin, or the God they worship (or who they love, or the fact that that they do not have a penis).

How is there an inappropriate time to say that those who are suffering, dying, having their churches and synagogues and mosques bombed, their elementary aged children lynched with a rope tied around their neck deserve better, and that the intolerance and hate are not welcome here? When is the right time to call out signs like "We'll put the panic back in hispanic"?

How on earth is there EVER a wrong time and place?

And if for some reason, somehow, this is an inappropriate time and place do so, when and where is the right one?

If not here, where?

If not now, when?

What line must be crossed for there to be no inappropriate time or place?

Who must they come after for any form of peaceful protest anywhere to be acceptable and appropriate? How far must it go?

Shall we remember this:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) was a prominent Protestant pastor who

emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last

seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.

Now maybe, just as an experiment, replace "speak out" with, "take a knee"

If not here, where?

If not now when?


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