Resist efforts to divide people by Marc H. Morial

1/24/2020, 6 a.m.
A report that hate crimes surged in America’s five largest cities last year has broken just as we honor the ...
Marc H. Morial

A report that hate crimes surged in America’s five largest cities last year has broken just as we honor the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the nation’s best known victim of a hate crime.

The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State Uni- versity, San Bernardino, found that hate crimes were at their highest level since Sept. 11, 2001, in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, with the Jewish community being the most frequent target in all five of the cities.

“These data reflect several trends, including an escalating tribalism, where various prejudices like anti-Semitism, xenophobia and homophobia, among others, are widely shared across a diverse grouping of people,” said Brian Levin, the report’s lead author.

“Next, local demographic changes in densely populated cities means more people are coming in contact with each other right at a time when fearful stereotypes are increasingly become the kindling for violent behavior.”

In the wake of the shooting and stabbing attacks on Orthodox Jews in New York and New Jersey, far right trolls hoping to exacerbate racial tensions have been posing online as Jews to post racist screeds against African-Americans.

Online sleuths who traced the racist plot back to the website 4chan — a site that author Elad Nehorai called “a radical breeding ground” — found slur-ridden comments such as, “You are throwing high-quality octane fuel” on the “fire” of Jewish-Black relations, “Let’s see some riots,” and “If you break the Black-Jewish alliance, it’s all over for the Jews.”

It’s instructive to note that the goal of white nationalists is to drive a wedge between marginalized groups. It is vital that we actively and forcefully resist these efforts.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Dr. King wrote in Letter from a Birmingham Jail. “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

The National Urban League, as one of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Racial Equity Anchor Institutions, was proud to celebrate the fifth annual National Day of Racial Healing on Tuesday, Jan. 21, the day after the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

The day is a call to action to mobilize communities, organizations and individuals across the United States in support of truth, racial healing and transformation.

More than 70 events around the nation were scheduled, and you can follow the conversation on social media using the hashtag #HowWeHeal.

As one of the Anchor Institutions, we stand side-by-side with racial justice and organizations representing Latinos, Asian-Americans, Native Americans and other ethnic and religious communities — tied together, as Dr. King said, in a single garment of destiny.

As disheartened as we may be by the rising level of hate crimes, and as disgusted as we may be to read the words of online trolls, we must guard against meeting hate with hate.

Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.”

The monster of racism feeds on hatred. The only way to kill it is to starve it.

The writer is president and chief executive officer of the National Urban League.