What 'Love Anyway' Does and Does Not Mean After Charlottesville

Unite the Right Protesters in Charlottesville, VA. Photo by Rodney Dunning / CC BY-ND-NC 2.0

What does it look like to love anyway when people are marching through Charlottesville with Nazi flags? And should we even love anyway? This idea is more comfortably applied at a distance and much easier to apply to other people.

But it applies all the time. To everyone. That’s the radical thing about it.

Listening in the Wake of Charlottesville

Crowds of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, VA on Saturday. Photo by Michael Sessum / CC BY-NC 2.0

In the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, our country feels broken.

But it wasn’t this weekend that broke us. We were born broken. This weekend was just the latest proof of how broken we are. The last several years have been a revelation for many white Americans that bigotry is alive and well in the U.S. Before that, many of us lived in privileged bliss, untouched by racism built into the fabric of our society, unwilling to hear the stories of people of color who experience it daily.

Racist Protests in Charlottesville May Come as a Shock. But They Shouldn't.

Photo by Matthew Tennant on Twitter

Hate is loud today.

Hundreds of white supremacists marched on a university campus in Virginia last night, protesting plans to remove a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. They were chanting things like “Blood and soil” (a racist phrase with Nazi roots), “You will not replace us,” and the openly anti-semitic variant, “Jews will not replace us.”

Changing Lives in Iraq with Food, Water, and Medicine

Last month’s declaration of military victory in Mosul was a major milestone. But after nine months of warfare, thousands are dead. Much of the city is in ruins. And ISIS remains a threat in Mosul.

You’ve continued to show up with love and support for weary families who were trapped until the end. You did this and much, much more in cities across Iraq, as families recover, repair, and rebuild.

Here are some of the highlights from the last month:

Peacemaker Friday: Police Chief Turns Angry Parking Lot Dispute into Peacemaking Opportunity

It was one of those small situations that escalated quickly.

At a Walmart in North Dakota, three women got into an angry exchange of words that went from verbal abuse to threats of genocide in a matter of minutes. Over parking.

Mosul: why would I return?

“Living and working in Mosul is no longer possible. Why would I return?”

Jassem al-Mosuli has warm memories of his home in Mosul. But he is afraid to go back.

A Christian Walks into a Mosque...

Muslim Association of Puget Sound. Photo by Dennis Bratland / CC BY-SA 4.0

“Are you apprehensive about anything?”

“I’m afraid that they are going to be afraid of me.”

Anne and I are standing outside a mosque in the suburbs of Seattle. It’s noon on a Friday, and we are here for Jummah Prayers, the Islamic equivalent of a Sunday church service. This is Anne’s first visit to a mosque, and her scarf keeps slipping off her head as I give her a little bit of information about what to expect during the service.

The Gateway to Extremism

It happens in Iraq, in the U.S., and everywhere in between. It happens to people of every color, religion, ethnicity, and background.

We marginalize those we do not understand, those who are different from us, those who disagree with us or don’t conform to the dominant culture. This act of marginalizing and excluding someone can actually push them past the margins and into the extremes.

Think the Mosque Bombing in Minnesota Has Nothing to Do with You? Think Again...

A bomb was thrown through this window at the Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center in Minneapolis early Saturday morning. Image via the Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center's Go Fund Me page.

A Minnesota mosque was attacked on Saturday morning when someone threw a makeshift bomb through a window. More than a dozen people were inside at the time, getting ready for morning prayers. Thankfully, no one was injured in the blast.

In 10 Cities Around Iraq, You are Helping People get Back to Work

Across Iraq, families have fled violence or find themselves living in cities recently liberated from ISIS control. Men need to find new jobs because their old way of life is gone. Many women are having to shoulder the responsibility of providing for their families alone because their husbands and sons did not survive. As they look at their options, you have come alongside to give encouragement—and fire-up their imaginations.

Peacemaker Fridays: Mosul Residents Save Their Christian Neighbors From ISIS

For Christians, living under ISIS was essentially a death sentence. But for at least these two Christians in Mosul, their Muslim neighbor’s choice to love anyway saved them from almost-certain death. These are the peacemakers.  

Three Years Ago Today, ISIS Tried to Wipe Out the Yazidi People... And Failed

Three years ago today, life changed completely for the Yazidi people of northern Iraq. On August 3, 2014, ISIS swept into Sinjar, the Yazidi homeland, and committed genocide. It was the day that has defined every day since.

That Moment When Refugee Kids Can Just Be Kids Again

When we first met many of our refugee friends in northern Iraq, they were desperate. They had barely escaped genocide at the hands of ISIS, and they were asking us for food rations, formula for their babies, and money for medical expenses.

Then you showed up. Now, thanks to your partnership and their hard work—making soap, farming, and knitting—many of them are well on their way to independence again.

The Number of Families Fleeing War in Iraq Is 'Staggering.' But That’s Not the Whole Story.

A staggering 3.3 million Iraqis have been displaced by war, according to the latest UN figures. To put that in perspective, that’s almost 10 percent of the entire country. It’s more than the entire population of Chicago or Paris. And that’s not counting the quarter million Syrian refugees who have fled to the Kurdish region of Iraq.

But here’s the thing you really need to know: 2.5 million of these people do NOT live in the sprawling tent cities you see on the news, with UN logos emblazoned everywhere.

‘We Killed Them All. ISIS, Men, Women, Children.’ - A Soldier’s Confession in Mosul

I can’t stop thinking about the words of an Iraqi soldier describing his orders during the final days of fighting in Mosul:  

“We killed them all—ISIS, men, women, children. We killed everyone.”

How to Wage Peace in the Comment Section: Three Things You Should Start (and Stop) Doing

In this day and age, there’s nothing quite as unexpected as someone being kind on the internet. A person who speaks respectfully on Facebook is like some kind of a magical unicorn.

The rules of common human decency don’t seem to apply on the interwebs. We give ourselves a free pass to say things we would never say (hopefully!) to someone’s face.

This is a missed opportunity.

Here's How Your Love Showed Up in Syria Last Month

The battle for the city of Raqqa—the ISIS capital in Syria—rages on. Peace talks have seen limited success, including a narrow ceasefire agreement in parts of the country—but the Syrian people have seen many ceasefires come and go.

You, however, remain steady in your outpouring of love and help in Syria.

Here are highlights from last month...

What To Do With ISIS Families in Mosul?

People in Mosul are divided about what to do with the families of ISIS fighters now that the battle to retake the city is over. 

“The families of ISIS fighters are more dangerous than the members of ISIS themselves,” says Basma Basim, the head of the Mosul district council. “They are the soil in which the seeds of ISIS have been planted and allowing them to stay in the city will mean a repeat of the bloody scenario that has taken place here.”

A Heatwave Disrupted Our Hydroponics Project in Syria. But We’re Not Stopping.

Recently, we told you about an experimental effort to help Syrian families feed themselves in the middle of their country’s civil war.

Even before we distributed food to survivors of last April’s chemical attack, our team in Syria was asking: what would it take to give families more control over their food situation, to reduce their dependence on aid? Emergency food distributions are an essential lifeline in the middle of a crisis, but they are not a long-term solution.

The Biggest Threat to ISIS Ideology? It’s Not What You Think.

There’s a reason ISIS destroys TVs like this one that I saw on the streets of Mosul. There’s a reason they ban cell phones. There’s a reason they go house to house searching for satellite dishes, radios, or any other means of contact with the outside world. In cities like Raqqa, ISIS’s de facto capital in Syria, punishments for being caught with a phone include public whipping and having your hand cut off.

It seems the more territory ISIS loses, the more paranoid they become.

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