Hateful rhetoric is still rising in this country (and across much of the world). This is despite best efforts by many to counter the message of hate and discord. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why this is so. The only conclusion I can reach is that those lashing out against immigrants or religious minorities are tackling some serious issues in their lives such as income inequality and economic insecurity. A natural response to these issues is fear, especially when the knowledge or political clout to address them in a meaningful way is lacking for a variety of institutional and societal reasons.
And fear, left untethered, often manifests itself as hatred. This is something that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. understood, and I imagine it was why he countered hate with peaceful protest rather than armed insurgency. The last thing you want to do to those who are afraid is scare them some more.
MLK’s birthday was on Friday and we commemorate his life tomorrow. I have spent some time thinking about his mission and how I can continue paying homage to his work and that of countless others. My recent op-ed on CNN lists a few ways we can all fight intolerance and discord, especially on January 18 (a day of service for those of my friends in DC). I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts on my piece and how we can do more to further MLK’s work.
Also check out this map my colleagues and I have started that compiles attacks against religious minorities, especially women, in the U.S. since November 2015.