Perhaps for one night, they want to make evil visible and vivid. Maybe these costumes are their way of getting inside what is monstrous and blunting its power by making it over the top and laughable. For one night, it seems, they want to be scary instead of scared.
Due to time constraints (I know many don’t think I recognize such during sermons), I didn’t have opportunity to reflect on Jabs’s concluding words:
The most damaging legacy of terrorism is the fear that monsters lurk everywhere, disguised as neighbors and co-workers. I am determined to resist that paranoia, to take people at face value until there is reason to do otherwise. So, this Halloween, though I plan to censor any costume that resembles a wounded person, I will let my kids impersonate the scariest inhuman creatures they can imagine. For one night, I’ll indulge my children—and myself—in the fantasy that evil is obvious and monsters are readily recognized.
In an article widely circulated via the Internet, Catharine Butler tells of overhearing a young man make some disparaging remarks about Arab Americans in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks. Catharine writes:
I addressed the young guy. I said, "So are you a terrorist?"
"What??" he said "F--k, no!"
"Oh," I said innocently. "Well, you kind of remind me of Tim McVeigh. You remember him, don't you? He was a white American terrorist who blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City a few years ago. He murdered several hundred people with one bomb. Since you look like him, I thought maybe you must be like him and be a murderer."
His eyes widened in disbelief and his mouth opened, but before he could speak, I said..."Well, I'm sure you are not a terrorist, just because you look like one, and either are millions of the people who live in this country and around the world who are Middle Eastern or Muslims. This act of hate came from the evil minds of very few people with lots of money and lots of time to plan. Just because you look like Tim McVeigh doesn't mean you are like him. So, don't assume anyone else is problematic because of their faith or their appearance."
©2001 C. David Hess