Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Protesting Play-Doh

Recently, my son Max's preschool sent out an email alerting us that an antisemitic group would be staging a demonstration at their facility. His preschool is part of a Jewish Community Center (JCC), an institution that is a fitness facility and hosts arts, cultural, youth and senior programming, and is open for membership to anyone. While I don't know much about the protesting organization, I know they don't particularly like Jewish people, homosexuals, or young men and women who died while serving in the military.

The JCC's email explained that the protesters are not permitted on the property, and that police presence would be involved to ensure an orderly protest. They encouraged us not to interact with the protesters, to not give them the attention they think they deserve. The email reminded us of their first amendment rights, which I support and understand. I was impressed that the JCC seemed to handling everything so well.

So why did my heart start pounding at the thought of these people holding up a few signs? A million thoughts began racing through my mind. Max can't read yet, and isn't likely to notice them, and any questions could easily be dismissed and forgotten in his three year old mind. The campus entrance is a good distance from his classroom, so it's highly unlikely they'd be anywhere near him. I know security is tight and his teachers are well-trained.

But I felt guilty - maybe I should keep him home for the day. Or bring him with me, downtown. He loves taking the train, but his whole routine gets disrupted and he probably won't have a great day. And I start thinking that if I wasn't a working mom, I wouldn't have to think about this, not have to fret about the one crazy person who takes things too far, today or any other day, just because it's a Jewish institution, just because I have to go to work. And my conversations with other descendants of the Holocaust start ringing in my ears, that we can never forget, because it can still happen now.

It's paralyzing, and agonizing that these people, who aren't worth my time, have gotten so far under my skin.

So with a lump in my throat, I let Marc take Max to school that morning. There were police there, but no protesters, and just a few protesters came and went later in the day.

But I really, really hate the effect this has had on me, who didn't even see or interact with them. And I think that's exactly what they wanted.

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