Reaction to hate speech – two posts from today

Two fellow bloggers have written today about online hate speech they have received. One lives in Australia and the other in America. The latter focuses on some anti-semitic comments she has received. Each post can be linked to below. They are must reads.

Below are my comments offering up a few thoughts from someone who detests hate speech and sees it for what it is – fear of the other.

First comment –  “I was chatting with my sister about how some folks are just looking for a fight online. I love the Aristotle saying – ‘There is only one way to avoid criticism: Do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.

Let me add one that a friend and guidance counselor used to tell her high school students. You are the boss of you. Don’t cede your power to anyone, especially someone trying to provoke a reaction. If you do not take offense, you are not offended.

I just love her words, even more especially since she passed away early. It is my tribute to her to remember them.”

Second comment – “I am sorry you have to go through hateful and spiteful denigration and persecution. It is not right and never has been right. When I see one group of people, pick any, that is taught to ‘fear the other’ and shun them, dehumanize them, punish them, and persecute them, thinking beyond the obvious hate, I am reminded of one thought – how could one group be so arrogant to think they can do without other groups of people?

This point is not focused on enough, so let me. The Jewish people have contributed so much to the world in every community they chose to be in (or were forced to be in). They value family, faith, hard work, education and community. One of my favorite part’s of Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Outliers,’ about successful people, is when he focuses on the children and grandchildren of the ‘piece goods’ workers who migrated from Europe to New York City (piece goods are zippers, button holes, collars, belt loops, etc. that make finished products easier to produce). Looking at these hard working people’s descendants revealed lawyers, doctors, pharmacists, etc. Their forebears valued hard work and education.

My point is simple. If a group practices an exclusionary belief system, then they may be a self-fulfilling prophesy and wither away. Simply, we need each other. If that does not do it for these folks, just think Steve Jobs was the son of Syrian immigrants. African-American Vivian Thomas had a heavy part in curing the blue babies syndrome, and the contribution of Jewish folks is an exhaustive list, but picking only two, Jonas Salk gave us the polio vaccine and actress and scientist Hedy Lamarr invented a technology that exists in every cell phone. Just think of where we would be without our diversity.”

Please note, I added a few words to the comments I left. My point is “fear of the other” is not only hateful, it is foolish and self-defeating. I saw a documentary where religious scholars and historians noted Jesus probably spoke four languages (Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek and Latin), given his trade as a carpenter, his ministry as a Rabbi and where he grew up. In other words, treat others like you want to be treated were not just words – he learned languages to communicate. Think about that.


11 thoughts on “Reaction to hate speech – two posts from today

  1. Israel offered 20,000 treatment programs to Palestinians in 2019. Then Mahmoud Abbas, the President of Palestine, stopped all this traffic. Why? He was angry because Israel began deducting from the money it transferred to Palestine the amount of money that Palestine budgets to reward the families to jailed terrorists in Israel (a substantial amount: millions of dollars per year in a policy called “pay for slay”. But note that the secretary general of the PLO and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat is now in an Israeli hospital in Jerusalem for Covid and has significant pre-existing conditions that him particularly vulnerable. Exceptions for the powerful, of course. And Erekat has often and publicly accused Israel of being a worse apartheid state than South Africa! And yet he still gets treatment. Where are the kudos to Israel for doing this, for offerign this program? Anti-semitism hard at work here in the West.

  2. That old playground saying that, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me” has long been proven a myth, for words can often hurt more than broken bones, and the hurt can last longer and shape what we say or do for a long time thereafter. We learn to take the criticism with a grain of salt, to ignore it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt to have our values, our very being challenged in rude, hypercritical ways. We either develop a tough shell, or we climb into a shell. I’ve known people who stopped blogging altogether because of the criticism they faced for their opinions. Others learn to shrug it off and continue to do what they believe is making a difference. Sadly, hatred based on that ‘fear of other’ has been around forever and it doesn’t appear that it will ever leave … but today it is magnified by some world leaders who, whether consciously or unconsciously, encourage it.

    • Jill, it does hurt people’s feelings, yet what we do next is most important. Today, way too many things that are not political are made such, as some spin-doctor has said “we could make this a wedge issue.” This creates too many binary win-lose fights (they are not really debates). Life is almost entirely gray, with very few binary, black and white issues, to mix metaphors. When we let narrow-minded politicians and so-called leaders boil down issues to binary ones, then it truly is a disservice and does not solve problems. Keith

      • I think it would help a lot of people bring their feelings back into line about the country if they were to read (and think about the ideas raised in) Dan Rather’s book What Unites Us – a reminder of what liberal values mean in action and why they are such a vital unifying force to bring about the much needed national recovery… not just from Trump and Fox and a broken Congress but from the sickness of partisanship that is breaking the country apart in every way imaginable.

      • Well said. If we don’t start to heal the divide, it will become harder in the future. As you note, we need to remind ourselves of what unites us.

  3. Those who indulge in hate speech would do well to remember three points, which have a degree of acceleration in the listing
    1. Those who use hate-speech supply sufficient ammunition for those who in turn ‘hate’ them to ‘justify’ at least an equal response
    2. If persecution happens to them, and no one will look to help them.
    3.. The ruins of Germany in 1945 should supply enough evidence of what happens when this is allowed to run free. In point of fact those Germans in the East of Germany, those ethnic Germans in various other states did suffer ‘1’ and only the mass-rapes in Berlin in 1945 are given much common attention; and you would be surprised how much tacit acceptance of those actions are still found in the history books.
    Hate-speech will come back to find you one way, or another. It is possible those fools who chant ‘Blood and Soil’ in the USA today might well find they are on the wrong side of History at some stage. The warnings and lessons are there.

    • Roger, well said. Intolerance is a long practiced tactic. People are taught to fear then hate. They are not born that way. So, they can be untaught. It requires strong leadership (political, business and religious) and citizens who have strong will to say this is not right.

      • It is a very long hard road Keith, because History suggests it is in our Natures to take this route. Tolerance can be achieved and yet Vigilance is an important part of the process.

      • So true. We must vote with our feet as well. Actions speak louder than words. If I heard a minister spewing bigotry, I would walk out. But, sometimes well said words without venom can get through. I keep thinking of Daryl Davis, a Black man who talked KKK members into giving up their cause and robes.

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