Justice

Here's How We Win the Fight Against Hatred

The other day a Twitter account mentioned me in a number of abusive tweets. There were about eight of them, each only containing a few choice words. "Fucking Jew, go burn in hell." "Go die." "Fuck Jews." "Yahoodiii."

I get it. You clearly don't like me. You might even hate my TV show. Fine. I can respect that. But why feel the need to personally attack me for my religion and tell me to die because of it?

For many of us, without even recognizing it, we have been carelessly participating in the beautiful act of freedom of speech and self expression. Except rather than appreciating it and using it to support creativity and spread positivity, too many of us use it thoughtlessly to belittle and demean the things we dislike. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have free speech. I support cartoonists right to satirize and journalists right to be provocative. I also realize it’s your right to call me whatever derogatory slur you want. But at what cost?

It infuriates me how casually people will say nasty things to others. It's also disturbing that websites like TMZ and World Star Hip Hop thrive on exploitation. They have turned our network of democracy into a magnification glass meant to isolate and scour the weak like children roasting ants under the sun. 

Rather than promoting ideas and supporting individuality, social media, our global platform for free speech, has too often become a place to spread racial stereotypes, promote sexism as well as other forms of bigotry. While there are efforts being made to harness the power of community online, I can't help but notice how much time and energy is wasted creating social stereotypes, spreading rumors, and highlighting cultural differences in an effort to isolate and mock those who are different. 

Sound familiar? 

I write this now with tears in my eyes. Maybe you don't want to hear this or think I'm overreacting, but in my grandparents lifetime, millions of people, Jewish and otherwise, were exterminated because of their religion, race, political beliefs, sexuality or physical disabilities. Since then millions more have been slaughtered around the world for peacefully practicing lifestyles or beliefs that others disagree with. The recent attacks in Paris, France, and Baga, Nigeria show us that hatred and discrimination are very much alive and well. Good family friends of mine, whose ancestors barely survived the horrors of WWII, are now living in fear. They are Jews in Paris and believe that their lives are at risk. Many Muslims around the world, including here in America, live in fear of persecution everyday as well.

How can it be that a species capable of such wonder, such beauty and such love, can also be so easily enticed by hatred? 

It's time to get serious. It's time to recognize our responsibility to ourselves and each other. No longer is it us and them. No longer can we sit at home comfortable watching the news thinking "not here, not me." The people killed in Paris, the children in Baga, that's us. That is you. That is me. 

Our right to live and be free is under attack. It’s time to pay attention and get more socially engaged. It's time to start using social media with purpose and for peace. I hope you’ll join me.