Normalizing hatred leads to daunting consequences
March 28, 2017
Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.
Email This Story
While acts of hatred and antisemitism are not a new occurrence, they have been on the rise since the election of Donald Trump as president.
In 2017, Anti-Semitism has become an almost daily occurrence, with over 100 Jewish institutions receiving bomb threats since the beginning of the year. The stories of these hateful acts have become simply unavoidable, nor can I evade the uncomfortable and vulnerable feeling that settles within me when I read such news.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, the New York City Police Department reported an 110 percent increase in hate incidents in the first two months of 2017, the majority of them targeting Jewish people and Jewish institutions.
Some incidents receive more attention than others, and the outrage lasts for a day or two. However, many fade into the background quickly after, and become the white noise of society. Some are not even spoken about at all, and this inaction makes them normalized.
When headstones were toppled at a Jewish cemetery in Brooklyn, it was declared not a crime by the police because of no evidence of vandalism, despite a large hole in the fence.
This happened a week after similar and arguably more severe vandalism in a St. Louis cemetery.
While the argument stands that there are chances that these stones were knocked over due to natural and environmental causes, the fact that it has been declared not a crime is a slap in the face for Jewish people everywhere
Such Anti-Semitic acts show parallels to events from the holocaust, such as Kristallnacht, which were riots against Jewish people in Germany in 1938. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, over the course of two days, 250 synagogues were burned and more than 7,000 Jewish owned businesses were trashed and looted.
While today’s incidents are nowhere near close to the injustices committed during the holocaust, they do have broad effects.
The first accounts of this felt far away and distant, but still yet unsettling and I felt unsure on how to proceed. When they happened again, they began to feel more frightening as their implications started to unravel, moving closer and closer to me.
Once this began to hit my own backyard, at first with a Jewish community center twenty minutes from my house receiving a bomb threat and then Anti-Semitic graffiti found at my own school, I realized that by not talking about these actions publicly made them normal. It made them irrelevant, and it made them easily repeatable.
Anti-Semitism is taking over society, and it must be stopped by not continuing to allow it become normalized in society.
According to a study by Michigan State University Extension, given the prevalence and normalization of some kinds of hate speech, some young people and adults may downplay concerns about the impacts of hateful language.
The study suggests that people must stress that subtle and blatant forms of hate speech will affect people’s overall well-being, including having poor health.
This normalization has allowed American society to turn down a dangerous path of hatred and people living in fear.
If even any one person feels threatened or unsafe, the United State cannot be the welcoming country it states itself to be.
According to a survey by the Coordination Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism, 73 percent of respondents who either saw or experienced Anti-Semitic violence did not report it to authorities.
The message that Anti-Semitism should be met with is pivotal to ensuring it does not keep occurring. By engaging in public discourse and conversation, it prevents a space for Jews and non-Jews alike to hold people accountable for their actions.
Staying neutral in the face of these actions or acting like they did not happen will leave the perpetrator with no consequence for their actions, therefore making the actions easily repeatable. Anti-Semitism must be publicly discussed instead of covered up by others.
While the past chapter of history is unchangeable, the next chapter is yet to be written. I have hope it can be written with no room for Anti-Semitism or any other hate crime. This can only be done if these types of actions don’t become normalized.