Fighting Hate

Four Red Sox fans were removed from Fenway Park in Boston last night after they unfurled a large banner over the Green Monster which read, “Racism is as American as Baseball.”

In an anonymous e-mail statement, one of the protestors wrote: “We are a group of white anti-racist protesters. We want to remind everyone that just as baseball is fundamental to American culture and history, so too is racism.”

Obviously, these fans need a refresher on what constitutes a clear message.

A little more than a month has passed since the Unite the Right March in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the violence that took place there.

While the country is reeling from two devastating hurricanes, the hate that has been the substrata of groups like the Ku Klux Klan, White Nationalists and neo-Nazis remains, for the moment, tucked back into the darker impulses of the country.

Hate is a disease.

It may not be found in any medical journal or manual, but it is a sickness that preys upon the angry, abused, alienated or just plain lost. It grinds away at the soul, like a cancer, until it explodes in rage-filled moments.

Hate belongs to no political party, religious group, country or culture. It has two agendas: to infect others who harbor similar feelings; and to strike out against peace and normalcy.

Anyone pandering to hate is part of the problem, not the solution.

While in the aftermath of Charlottesville, President Trump denounced “hatred, bigotry and violence,” in the same breath, he said that there were “very fine people” among the Right marchers; people who – carrying Tiki torches that looked like they came from a local home improvement center – openly chanted, “White lives matter!” and “Jews will not replace us!”

I’ve lost all patience with a president who arrogantly caters to fringe groups and individuals that stand for hate, among them, former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke who tweeted this:

“Thank you, President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa.” — David Duke, August 15, 2017

Particularly disturbing is the fact that hate groups like the White Nationalists and KKK no longer live in the shadows with hoods over their heads. With permits and shouts of “free speech,” they appear to demonstrate a benign normalcy. But there is nothing normal or benign about hate.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is “…currently tracking more than 1,600 extremist groups operating across the country. …

“Bias is a human condition,” SPLC writes, “and American history is rife with prejudice against groups and individuals because of their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or other characteristics. As a nation, we’ve made a lot of progress, but stereotyping and unequal treatment persist.”

(Memo to “racist” banner Sox Fans: Note the wording. “American history is rife with prejudice…” It does not equate prejudice to baseball.)

Founded in 1971 by civil rights lawyers Morris Dees and Joseph Levin Jr., SPLC’s mission is to “ensure that the promise of the civil rights movement [becomes] a reality for all. Since then, we’ve won numerous landmark legal victories on behalf of the exploited, the powerless and the forgotten.”

SPLC does more than speak out. According to its website, it fights hate, teaches tolerance and seeks justice… and they offer an online Response Guide – Ten Ways to Fight Hate – for communities to stop hate.

Among the steps put forth:

Act –

Do something. In the face of hatred, apathy will be interpreted as acceptance by the perpetrators, the public and — worse — the victims. Community members must take action; if we don’t, hate persists.

  1. Hate is an open attack on tolerance and acceptance.

It must be countered with acts of goodness. Sitting home with your virtue does no good. In the face of hate, silence is deadly. Apathy will be interpreted as acceptance — by the perpetrators, the public, and — worse — the victims. If left unchallenged, hate persists and grows.

  1. Hate is an attack on a community’s health.

Hate tears society along racial, ethnic, gender, and religious lines. The U.S. Department of Justice warns that hate crimes, more than any other crime, can trigger community conflict, civil disturbances, and even riots. For all their “patriotic” rhetoric, hate groups and their imitators are really trying to divide us; their views are fundamentally anti-democratic. True patriots fight hate.

  1. Hate escalates.

Take seriously the smallest hint of hate — even what appears to be simple name-calling. The Department of Justice again has a warning: Slurs often escalate to harassment, harassment to threats, and threats to physical violence. Don’t wait to fight hate.

What Can You Do? –

Pick up the phone. Call friends and colleagues. Host a neighborhood or community meeting. Speak up in church. Suggest some action.

Sign a petition. Attend a vigil. Lead a prayer.

Repair acts of hate-fueled vandalism, as a neighborhood or a community.

Use whatever skills and means you have. Offer your print shop to make fliers. Share your musical talents at a rally. Give your employees the afternoon off to attend.

Be creative. Take action. Do your part to fight hate.

The Center’s Guide offers 9 other steps that communities and individuals can take to deal with extremist groups and hate.

Sitting on the sidelines isn’t going to work.

All of us, have a duty as citizens to act.

Go to the Center’s site, donate and get involved. It’s more vital than ever.

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