Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Today's MOZEN: Hate by Any Other Name

F LoBuono
In a Facebook discussion a few days ago, a friend chided me for making the recent spike in hate crimes, particularly those involving anti-Semitic behavior, a political topic. I argued that, under the climate currently being fostered by this Administration, that is nearly impossible NOT to do so.

Although hate crimes and anti-Semitism have existed for thousands of years, statistics are indicating an alarming increase in their frequency since the election of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States (http://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2017/02/so-far-rate-of-hate-crimes-in-2017-outpacing-2016-109621). It is not too far-fetched to simply connect the dots. Mr. Trump's rhetoric, particularly targeting immigrants and refugees, has been far from compassionate. In fact, many have called it downright incendiary. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that one has led to the other.

However, I also think that I get the point that my friend was trying to make. Hate, and anti-Semitism is not exclusive to this Administration. To bolster his case, he sent me statistics of the large number of anti-Semitic attacks that happened under the Obama Administration that went largely un-reported or under-reported. He asserts that for this reason, politics should play no role - hate comes in many shapes, sizes, and administrations. He asked, "why now? Why not ALWAYS"?

On this point, I tend to agree. It s arguable that many are using this current trend more to discredit the President than they for a genuine concern for the elimination of hate and prejudice. THAT does make it political.

However, words count. Attitude counts. POLICY counts. And, this President, in word AND deed, is giving license to those who hate. When we practice exclusionary tactics, it tends to spread like cancer - it starts in one area and, if left untreated, infects the entire body. I believe this is what is happening in our Country now. With Executive Actions that single out particular groups, the President gives tacit approval for those with hate in their hearts to express their vitriol. It may be focused on one group initially, but like cancer, spreads to any others who may be different from the mainstream - like Jews. And, Jews, like few other groups, have born the brunt of the hate since their inception. Although I live in a area where Jews are common place, they still make up a VERY small percentage of the American population. It is estimated that there are only about 5-7 million Jews out of nearly 320 million Americans. That makes them an EXTREMELY small and, therefore, a most vulnerable minority.

This is why it is so dangerous AT ANY TIME to single out ANY ETHNIC group from exclusion.  It may begin with one but, eventually, it effects ALL of us. Hate by any other name, including anti-Semitism is still just hate. Beyond politics, beyond labels, HATE IS HATE IS HATE - and we must condemn it as such in all its manifestations - no matter who is in charge!

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