The only thing to hate is hate itself

Q.C. Ho, Editorial Cartoonist

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Creative Commons through Wikimedia 
A German synagogue is left to burn and no firefighters will come to put out the flames. Nov. 1938, similar attacks are being carried out across Germany on the night known as Kristallnacht. Last October the shooting of a synagogue in Pittsburgh shows that antisemitism is still present despite the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Late October, America watched as news of bomb threats to prominent Democrats and the shooting of a synagogue showed horrors we did not expect from Halloween. The antisemitism and hate Americans fought against in World War II has now resurfaced in our own country. We the people have a duty to stop hate in its tracks before it consumes America.

Political rhetoric from politicians including Trump exploit the fears of many Americans. His “America First” policy encouraged an “Us versus them” mentality dividing Americans by race, religion and political party. Jews in particular have been singled out and attacked by white supremacists, neo-nazis and other extreme nationalist groups. This was seen last month with the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, and the Unite the Right Rally held in Charleston North Carolina last year. There, marchers chanted, “You will not replace us. Jews will not replace us.”

There is no doubt that fear and hatred is present. Government teacher Jerry Washburn said that the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting “was so clearly a hate crime, that scares me. I’m concerned that as a society, we go there.”

If society creates the environment to cause an atrocity, society has the ability to prevent such in the future.

Americans are slowly becoming desensitized to these acts of violence. Junior Katrina Martin said her first thought when she heard about the Pittsburgh shooting was, “Oh, another shooting.” commented sarcastically, “Can’t believe this happened in a country where this regularly happens.”

It is concerning that we are slowly becoming indifferent to the shootings and hatred that is proliferating in our country. Early Nov. the FBI reported that hate crimes in America had increased 17 percent from 2016 to 2017.

People have the ability to change this. Discrimination against African Americans was normalized until leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. decided things needed to change. The civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s greatly reduced discrimination against blacks.

People chose to make a change back then, to disagree with the hate and discrimination that was prevalent. If Dr. King could do it back then, we can do it today.

How we feel about these issues is reflected in the people we elect. Washburn said that President Trump has had “Plenty of opportunities to change the way he confronts these issues.”

If Trump toned down his rhetoric, the amount of divisiveness and hate that appears would be lower.

Despite our obligation to oppose hate and prevent discriminatory violence, it is impossible to stop all evils in America. All Americans have freedom of speech, therefore all Americans have freedom to hate and discriminate. It would be morally wrong to force opinions onto every one, America is not a totalitarian state.

However if society has the capacity to learn acceptance and tolerance of others. Our freedom of speech allows us to fight against hate, to teach future generations not to hate.

Social media has a powerful role in this challenge. Over social media, extreme views of hate and discrimination can fester in isolated pockets and spread like wildfire.

Social media can also be used to spread messages of acceptance. Just as cigarette advertisements were countered with anti-smoking advertisements, hateful media can and should be countered with positive media.

Not stopping a bully does not make someone a bad person. However by doing so they enable the bully to continue. That is the same with hatred and discrimination of today. We have the ability to end all forms of hate within America, and the world. Anne Frank recognized that writing, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

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