The holiday season is a time for universal thankfulness, gladness, kindness, caring, respect and love for our fellow human beings.
Unfortunately – this season anyway – that is not a universal “given.” There is an alarming and very dangerous rise of hostility and outright hatred aimed by some individuals and groups against others. There are vicious hostilities and sometimes violent assaults against Jews, Asian-Americans, Blacks, Hispanics, Muslim-Americans, LGBTQ people and others who are considered by some haters to be outsiders not worthy of respect.
Increasingly, there is an especially toxic incitement against Jewish people by the likes of Kanye West, Nick Fuentes (to name just two) and by White Supremacist groups. In Nazi Germany, after millions of Jews were killed in “work camps” and elsewhere, a universal cry was heard: “Never again!” But that “Never again!” is becoming “Here we go again!” as Jews and other minorities become targets of scapegoating and blind hatred, including mass shootings.
The FBI defines a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender12 or gender identity.”
Such crimes have been steadily increasing during the past few years. Horrific murderous violence has occurred against Jews (a mass shooting in Pittsburgh, Penn.), against Hispanics (at an El Paso, Texas Walmart store), against Blacks (a mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y.) and more recently against LGBTQ people by a gunman at a nightclub in Colorado Springs.
There are many other incidents that include unprovoked harassment, stalking, threats (both verbal and text-messaged), vandalism to homes and property, physical assaults and murders of lone individuals.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are 733 hate groups now operating in the nation, including the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, self-styled anti-government militias, and White nationalists claiming to be patriots protecting America from “outsiders” and so-called “woke” liberal-progressive “elitist” elements. Some targets of hatred also include law-enforcement officers, legislative leaders, election judges, school teachers, librarians and other public servants.
In 2021, there were reports of 8,753 bias (hate) crimes in this nation, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Almost 70 percent of them were perpetrated by those who harbor and encourage animosities toward others because of race, ethnicity and/or ancestry.
All good people must stand up united against the simmering hatreds and proliferation of lies and conspiracies promulgated widely via social-media platforms.
A good way to assert opposition to those vile incitements is to visit a website called the Center for Countering Digital Hate (counterhate.com). It is an excellent resource to lean about the kinds of hate-inducing disinformation-misinformation (lies) that gush forth constantly to gullible people.
The non-profit CCDH, with branches in the United States and in the United Kingdom, is countering the hateful lunacies that are parroted on digital platforms. The CCDH counters those dangers in many ways, including efforts to convince platform operators to block hateful content and harmful lies.
The site states: “Over time these bad actors – advocating diverse causes from misogyny and racism to denial of science and (promulgation of) conspiracy theories – have mastered using these platforms to cause considerable real-world harm.”
On that site, take time to check out its categories. And then be sure to share its information with family, friends, neighbors and acquaintances. Encourage them to visit that site, too. Have frequent conversations with them on how we, all of us together, can develop preventive, protective strategies against the proliferation of prejudice and hatred. There are lots of resources available to help develop positive strategies. Counterhate.com is a good start.
Good people acting together can work wonders to repair and strengthen the virtues that lead to respect and love for our fellow human beings. And that, after all, is the Gospel message celebrated at Christmas. It should become a practice that is nurtured and strengthened every day of every year.