Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bigotry and Hate Must Not Be Tolerated

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bigotry and Hate Must Not Be Tolerated

Article excerpt

Bigoted speech, racist language, hate talk are wrong. They are wrong no matter who utters them, whether your neighbor, an elected official, a church leader, a Hitler or any leader regardless of religion or skin color. Bigoted speech is divisive and hurtful and increases the sense of vulnerability of the targets of such speech. Recent events have shown all too clearly the great harm that bigoted speech, unchecked, can reap.

Bigotry is harmful to the basic fabric of a pluralistic society. Its harm comes not just from the lies that it perpetuates and the ill feelings that it engenders, but it does harm in raising a blanket of distrust among those who are involved.

Any group that is a target - whether of anti-Semitism, racism, anti-Catholicism, anti-Muslimism, anti-gayism or other anti-isms - feels threatened when such feelings are present. These threats are quite real, as history has shown. Bigotry can lead to discrimination, which can lead to dehumanization, which can lead to ultimate tragedy. Thus, no group wants the rest of society to discount the existence of bigotry against it, because to do so is to ignore the threat.

In recent weeks there has been great torment about the actions of Minister Louis Farrakhan and the teachings of the Nation of Islam. The torment exists because Farrakhan has come to represent to the Jewish community a source of unchecked bigotry. Over the last several years Minister Farrakhan has tried to convince people that he has changed his ways. His campaign to remake his image seemed to be succeeding, as established black leadership embraced his larger message because of his unique ability to reach young blacks living in urban areas.

That embrace and the sense of unchecked bigotry have become an obstacle between blacks and Jews. It has raised a specter of distrust that threatens an alliance of two groups that have a strong common social agenda that should not be allowed to be imperiled. …

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