Op-Ed: We Must Speak Up
Post by Jason Papallo, NCCJ E-Communications and Marketing Specialist
Passiveness creates an environment that’s perfect for the momentum of hate to build. Silence is our enemy. It’s a history lesson that should be all too clear to us, and yet it here we are: in a world becoming consumed by an increasingly louder message of hate.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has counted over 900 incidents of hate and rising in the days after the election. And these rising incidents of hate aren’t isolated to rural areas and intercity division lines. It exists past the pockets of the country we like to believe it’s confined in.
We can’t resist hate if we don’t make the presence of love, kindness and compassion known. We must be loud.
Seeking out understanding, harmony and equal rights while building communities that are respectful and just for all has always been, and still is, a momentous task. It’s paramount to society’s progression. Yet, we often find ourselves gazing upon many unforgiving in their lack of empathy.
To combat prejudice and discrimination, we must take hold of the reigns of empathy. Dialogues with room for active listening are key into breaking down the barriers of ignorance and creating understanding, and eventually acceptance.
The National Conference for Community and Justice is not a political organization. We do not promote or support political campaigns. However, we’re compelled to make a statement in the aftermath of the presidential election against the incivility and overt acts of hatred that have been unleashed upon our nation.
It’s a slippery slope. Even major news sources are loosing sight of that fact, such as CNN infamously using the chyron reading "Alt-Right Founder Questions If Jews are People" in November, a misstep that’s been heavily criticized by media organizations and the public alike.
This type of lazy coverage contributes to creating an environment that legitimizes absurd ideas, which are often followed by absurd behavior. There are examples of this in our own backyard.
As reported by the Hartford Courant, young students in East Windsor dressed as Klu Klux Klan while making pro-hate statements at a bonfire, and posted a video of the act online. Town government initially missed the gravity of the act.
"I think it was just some young people who made a big mistake trying to get attention," said East Windsor First Selectman Robert Maynard in his initial reaction. "I suspect they have no strong convictions and no really racial overtones — I think they were just enjoying the moment."
He later rescinded his statement.
According to the Hampshire Gazette, a swastika with racist and anti-Semitic graffiti was written on Mt. Tom in Western Massachusetts.
It’s just one in a growing number of hate crimes involving property damage and defacing through the area that are being dealt with.
We must always speak up when others are disparaging against mistreated groups. This doesn’t mean bring the “fighting words,” but rather bring the questions. Question the very root of their hatred. Once you start to question motives, don’t back down. Don’t ask with aggression, but compassion.
Be righteous in your compassion.
Let it guide you as you hold others accountable for their statements and actions, even the ones that don’t affect you personally. We cannot be blind to the fact that sitting idly by while hate goes on puts us inline with the perpetrators.
We urgently request that our elected officials at local state and national levels address and make clear that the United States of America will not tolerate hateful rhetoric or behavior of any kind. The campaign and post-election rhetoric must be taken seriously and dealt with firmly and swiftly.
Let your elected officials know, that you won’t be a bystander to hate, and they shouldn’t be either.
We must speak out aggressively against any form of bigotry.
It isn’t easy, and it isn’t fun. It can be your family, your friends, complete strangers or even folks on Facebook that are caught in the act. It doesn’t matter. We must speak out.
It can be uncomfortable, and of course, it’s an unpleasant thing to confront hate in all of hate’s disgusting forms. It can hurt relationships, and yes, deflate your social currency.
It doesn’t matter, we must speak up.
For more information on NCCJ’s variety of social justice educational programs, click here.
The opinions and information expressed through News Views posts are solely those of the individual authors and not representative of NCCJ’s overall stance on related issues unless specified. Any information presented as fact could entail inaccuracies or be incomplete. We encourage open discussion through our blog, and welcome respectful responses from everyone.