I watch news often, and view a variety of sources. But last night, on CNN, I listened and watched Don Lemon read the famous words of a Lutheran Pastor from Nazi Germany, Pastor Martin Niemoller,
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.
When Lemon finished, he spoke about division, identity politics, and the spewing and brewing of hatred against a range of people with different identities. Then, he closed with the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.,
In the End, we will remember
not the words of our enemies,
but the silence of our friends.
I am Jewish, and as Tanenbaum’s CEO, I worry about the growth of anti-Semitism along with Islamophobia, persecution of Christians, Sikhs and B’hai’s, and religious bigotry however it eats away at our humanity.
But I have to listen to the wisdom of these two great Christian leaders.
I therefore will not be silent today as duly elected Congressional representatives, women of color, are targeted and told to go back to their home countries.
Talking heads describe this as a racist trope. They’re right, of course, but that analysis is limited. It intellectualizes hate and venom. It fails to remind us how dehumanizing people—because of their race,nationality, religion and/or gender—has real and violent consequences. And how racism fuels other hatreds, as one hatred normalizes the next.
Rather than think about it, it is time to be enraged!
Be enraged about racism. Be enraged by bigotry, name calling, divisive strategies that move each of us to know our own hurt and forget others. Be enraged about anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Christian persecution. Speak out, stand together and embrace a lesson I learned decades ago at a conference on hate.
There were leading speakers on racism, anti-Semitism, discrimination against Latinos. Each speaker talked of their communities, their suffering and their community’s hurts. In many ways, they spoke with one voice. Then, Raul Yzaguirre, who was head of an organization known in those days as the National Council of La Raza, shared a view that defined how we need to understand such hatred.
Let’s not compare our pain,
and debate whose is worse.
Instead, let us understand that
When you are wronged, I am diminished.
And when I am wronged, you are diminished.
That’s why we need to stand up for each other. And fight together.
So I offer you again, resources from Tanenbaum’s Combating Extremism campaign because as Nelson Mandela said,
Education is the most powerful weapon –
which you can use to change the world.
- What Does Anti-Semitism Sound Like – Dr. Leonard Polonsky
- Explaining Extremism and Addressing Islamophobia
- A Path Forward: Confronting Hate in America
- White Supremacy: An Overview
- Five Ways to Counter Extremism on Social Media
With fierceness and determination,
Joyce S. Dubensky