Enough Hatred To Go Around and Come Back to Bite
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
The story of the murder of at least 26 people at a church service in the small Texas town of Sutherland Springs is only now evolving. It follows last Tuesday’s terrorist attack against pedestrians and bicyclists in New York City in which eight innocent people were run down. This violent attack followed the murder of 58 people attending a concert in Las Vegas on October 2nd. Leaving aside the differences in these three horrific events, they give serious pause to contemplate what is wrong with a society or even a world when hatred and anger is commonplace and out of control. Innocent people are being indiscriminately murdered. The world watches the horrors and goes back to business as usual.
During this year alone, Americans have observed with fear and pain as incidents have occurred throughout the world. The proximity in time of the recent events and the deep-seated hatred that they have reflected demand a humane, spiritual response and healing. The anger and hate that generated these events and the hostility that it is fanning as a result, cries out for public leadership to give hope and support to a society that is floundering. It demands action by Governments but not rounding up people, incarcerating innocent workers, and deporting immigrants. This is raw hatred that has infected a society and a world the likes of which has not been seen since the 1930’s.
Lest anyone assume that it is only bullets or madly driven vehicles which accomplish these ends, words can and do inspire hate as well. So did Larry David in his pointless attack and ridicule of Jews—despite the fact that he himself is Jewish. During his opening monologue on SNL, David commented on the widespread disclosures over the past several weeks of sexual harassment and sexual assault. In a gratuitous commentary, David felt a need to indicate that many but not all of the reported, alleged predators were Jewish. He followed this disgrace by degrading and trying to make commonplace the horrors of the concentration camp experience by depicting a humorous, almost normal, experience of a possible dating encounter in a camp.
Words incite as well as actions and given the current climate it would have been sufficient if David had stayed focused on the pervasive disclosures of sexual harassment, not to have singled out Jews and not to have sought to make ordinary the Holocaust. Holocaust deniers need no help from a comedian especially in a climate in which the marchers in Charlottesville last August did enough to stir up anti-Semitism just by their speech and the equivocating responses to their words.