Why the surge in racism and anti-Semitism?

Why the surge in racism and anti-Semitism?

In Los Gatos, California yesterday, a Jewish Community Center was evacuated because of a bomb threat.  It was just one more incident in a wave of anti-Semitic incidents over the past few months.

Last year, African-Americans took to the streets to protest minorities who died in police custody for no apparent reason or under suspicious circumstances.  In Chicago, some police officers were indicted in the deaths of high-profile deaths of some young Black Men.

In the meantime, a backlash against Political Correctness was unleashed.  Are these events related?  It would appear so.

In an awful twist, racists are now claiming the mantle of victimhood.  They seem to think it is ok to spew their racist hate, and for them to be criticized for it makes them the victims of racism.

Yesterday, CBS Channel 2 did a story on their website about a local Sheriff’s Office in Kankakee, Illinois that is using humorous memes to get a message to the community to lock their doors at night.  Some of the memes are irreverent.  A few of them are controversial.

The CBS story was particularly insightful and balanced.  In the story, they showed a white citizen who found the meme offensive.  They also interviewed an African-American couple who found it humorous.  Sheriff Mike Downey defended the program by citing a marked drop in break-ins since his campaign started.  He said his intention was not to be offensive but to get people to read the message.

As Mel Brooks will tell us all, irreverence sells.  Does intent count?  Yes, to a point it does count.  We need to remember that racism doesn't have to be intentional to still be racism.  We also need to remember words can still sting regardless of their intent when written or spoken.

Community reaction was interesting.  On social media, one White lady accused CBS News of racism.  An African American who was offended by the meme was accused of ‘playing the race card.’  There were several comments about political correctness.

There is a difference between political correctness and common decency.  Who are these people to say to an African American that their reaction is invalid because we don’t see things in the same way?  People need to remember empathy.  They need to walk a mile in another person’s shoes. The only people we should be judging is ourselves and our own behavior.  When we try to invalidate another person's experiences we only widen the gulf between us.

As I read these exchanges on social media, I couldn’t help but wonder how people can be so insensitive to other people’s pain, and their experiences?  Minorities have grown up in an entirely different America than White America has grown up in.  White America has not had the doors slammed in their faces just because of the color of their skin.

They haven’t had their community centers and schools closed because of bomb threats based on their religion, or their cemeteries desecrated.  They haven’t had to live in fear because of their race, or religion.

I used to be a Republican and worked deep within the GOP establishment in Washington, DC.  I would hear this undercurrent of what is now called micro- aggression.  It is a new term that describes the intent behind racial and religious stereotyping.  What we turned a deaf ear to has become a racial backlash in support of racism, religious hate, and bigotry.  It’s not OK to be a racist, an anti-Semite, or a bigot.  It is morally reprehensible and against every teaching in every major religion in the world.

It appears to me that there is a backlash against the Civil Rights gains by minorities over the past 60 years.  In our political division, we’ve decided that we are going to be divided on all issues in society, including common decency.

We need to step back and take a hard look at what we are becoming.

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