• author
    • Maya Stiles Parsons Spier

      Columnist, Editor-in-Chief
    • August 16, 2017 in Columnists

    They want me dead

    Bigotry dwarfs the soul by shutting out the truth.
    Edwin Hubbell Chapin

    I had a whole ‘nother column almost written. It wasn’t half bad, actually, but it was like excreting concrete blocks through my ears – it was just never gonna happen.

    It had all been said before, and in detail.

    When I saw what was happening in Charlottesville, I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t even angry when that beautiful young woman’s life was stolen from her. Desolated? Oh, yes. Very much so. I saw her mother and I damn near dissolved into tears. I’m a mother and grandmother and I know the ferocity of that love – that organic connection forged through birth or love and care (or both) – the visceral horror of that loss will haunt me for life.

    But I wasn’t angry.

    I was tired.

    I’ve seen this road walked before — this march of self-righteous hatred, justified pompously by some yutz who earnestly attempts to justify it using conspiracy theory shit so stupid that the idea itself is seen ramming into brick walls over and over.

    I was born in 1955. It’s so long ago now that the world I inhabited is little more than a fairy tale to anybody under about 50. Fifty. Think about that. If you’re only 40, you’re too damned young to have been there. Oy.

    Like most white kids born and raised in Missouri, I absorbed the vile poison that tainted the air we all breathed. I didn’t like black people any more than the rest of the white people who surrounded me. Bless my older cousin, who was growing up in one of St. Louis’ first mixed neighborhoods — she set me straight with a single sentence.

    “How would you like it if people hated you for being white?”


    I’ve been ‘woke’ ever since and given the fact that I’m all about words and sound — and opinions, goddess help us all – I’ve been making a lot of goddam noise about it in the ensuing 57 going on 58 years.

    And I’m fucking well not done, either.

    What I also didn’t realize was that, according to the haters who assembled in Virginia, I am disqualified from whiteness, despite my pale skin and blue eyes.

    I am a Jew.

    I’m a complicated Jew, actually. I was adopted by an atheist-of-Jewish-descent father and a mother who wouldn’t even discuss religion with my father but most certainly was not Jewish. According to the Reform Jewish school of thought, that made me Jewish enough. Everybody else needed me to convert and so I did – when I was almost 40. I hadn’t even known my adoptive father was Jewish until I was 24, but I’d actually been pulled toward it long before that – at 19, as a matter of fact.

    I went to the local temple to learn Hebrew, because I love learning languages, and fell in love with this joyous, powerful, fierce, loving, lively and downright sassy faith. Trust me. We aren’t supposed to proselytize, but try it! You’ll like it!

    I’m also still pagan – still too in love with the Goddess to relinquish her, although she is easily found in Judaism (ha’Shekhinah, now known to most as the Sabbath bride, she was known in the rabbinic era as the female face of the one G-d, G-d immanent as opposed to the male, Adonai, G-d transcendant). A friend of mine called me a Jewitch. It fits.

    I watched a video put out by Vox and HBO where a young, blonde woman – white enough to be reasonably safe around these heavily armed haters – followed them, getting them to open up about their views and reasons for them.

    It made my blood run cold.

    These people want me dead. They want me dead as much as Hitler and his vile horde. And if they got to hurt me horrifically in the process, that would be bonus.

    I’ve been hated for being Jewish before. Two times stand out in my memory. The first was a friend at an old job who was telling me about getting ready for the holidays and I mentioned I was gearing up for Hannukah. She gave me a look of disgust and turned away – she never looked at me the same way again. The second was at the cafeteria at my current place of employment. Waiting in line for a sandwich, the gentleman in front of me confessed that he didn’t eat pork. I smiled and responded that we didn’t either.

    If he’d had a gun and a guarantee that he could get away with it, he would have blown my brains out then and there. And no, I did not imagine it and no, I am not exaggerating.

    These were just two people, though, easily avoided, easily forgotten.

    This was a long, marching line of heavily armed people – mostly men – expressing their hatred of Jews and people of color and Muslims and anybody who didn’t vote for Trump in unequivocal language.

    They want me dead.


    Harmless. Obnoxious. Flawed. Neurodivergent. Loving. Funny. Ridiculous. Tired. Struggling. Reaching for joy as if it was the last life preserver from the Titanic.

    Just trying to be a decent human being and managing that perhaps half the time, three quarters on a really good day.

    They want me dead. They want to throw me into a heap with all people of color, Muslims, gay people and anybody else who doesn’t fit into their tiny, Judeo-Christian white, patriarchal world. Then they want to douse us with gasoline and watch our dead bodies burn.

    No, they weren’t explicit about it, but that’s exactly what happened before, except burning us in piles got inefficient, so they built ovens.

    So do I take this personally? You fucking well bet I do. But I would take it personally even if I was the child of a nice pair of Presbyterians. I would take it personally even if they didn’t include Jews.

    Because it is personal — or it fucking well should be. We are all one people, whether these yay-hoos think so or not. Let me repeat this. All. One. People. Mitochondrial DNA says so, but fucking common sense should make that redundant. And as a person who is part of this all-one-people, any harm done to a member of my tribe is harm done to me.

    We are living in far too interesting a time (ancient Chinese curse), ruled by an orange excrescence and his unconscionable infestation. This citrus-hued sack of putrefying protoplasm has all but endorsed the haters and he most certainly has done nothing to discourage them. This mango-colored abomination has fostered the revived culture of hate and is doing nothing to stop it. He and his won’t, either. These racist monsters are singing the song of his people and if 45’s base still can’t hear that he’s singing harmony (albeit in as tone-deaf a manner as possible) with the worst of the worst, then you’ll just have to blame those noise-cancelling headphones they all seem to be sporting. 45 isn’t going to stop the haters. He doesn’t even want to.

    No, it’s going to have to be us.

    God/dess help us all.


      • John

      • August 16, 2017 at 3:27 pm
      • Reply

      A revolting thought that we’d have to thank Trump for allowing a large swath of America, show they are no better than the Nazis. In fact, they are actually worse because they are not only educated, have access to a lot of history, but many of their relatives died to make the world safe from the likes of Hitler.

        • Maya Spier Stiles North

        • August 17, 2017 at 6:29 pm
        • Reply

        My uncle was a nanosecond away from being shot by a Nazi in WW2 — somebody shot that child soldier before he could complete pulling the trigger. Trump is a mirror on what ails our nation and the world — when I look at faces filled with pain and anguish as the result of cruelty and terrorism, I wonder what could possibly make haters think this is an acceptable goal? We really are the best and worst a species can be.

      • Deb

      • August 16, 2017 at 4:07 pm
      • Reply

      You got it. Twitler and his ilk cannot win.

        • Maya Spier Stiles North

        • August 17, 2017 at 6:30 pm
        • Reply

        Not in the long run. I think some of this is akin to making a mess to clean one, but this damn mess is ugly, agonizing and deadly.

      • Terri Connett

      • August 16, 2017 at 5:34 pm
      • Reply

      Oh my god/dess, Maya! I agree with every word. And I loved, loved all the orangey color references. This girl is on FIRE!

        • Maya Spier Stiles North

        • August 17, 2017 at 6:32 pm
        • Reply

        Hubby heard them and said “Talk about hate speech.” Hubster, dude, it’s one person and honestly earned. It’s not against entire subgroups of people with an aim to their destruction. Learn to discern!

        I do confess to a bitter sense of amusement as I concoct new ones for the lurching, plague-infested, cockroach motel on feet currently in DC.

      • Robin Pratt

      • August 16, 2017 at 6:47 pm
      • Reply

      Maya, yes ,I am the offspring of two pres yterians and yes I do take it personally and always have. Anyone e who was ts to annihilate any “race” will have to iñclude me on their rolls. Because if there is injustice anywhere, there is no justice either.

        • Maya Spier Stiles North

        • August 17, 2017 at 6:33 pm
        • Reply

        I’ve known you since I was what, 14 or 15? I know your heart and cherished it then as I do now.

      • William

      • August 23, 2017 at 4:07 pm
      • Reply

      It is a good thing to expose evil, to bring it to light so people would know of its existence. However, these hordes of attention-seeking misfits should not be given any more media exposure, as they thrive on limelight. Enough is enough. They will continue to wreak havoc inasmuch as there are cameras pointed at them. Covert action is needed to rid the society of this infestation once and for all.

        • Maya Spier Stiles North

        • August 23, 2017 at 9:16 pm
        • Reply

        I hear you, but it’s also been my experience that these people’s hideous nature needs to be exposed to the light of day. They like the shadows unless they’re en masse — like any bully, they rule in part by keeping their victims ashamed and quiet. Pardon my language, but fuck that noise. I say turn a klieg light on them AND work covertly to end this at last.

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