Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday October 30, 2018
Hatred has no borders, including in Canada
Saturday’s horrific mass murder of 11 worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue is somehow made even worse with the knowledge that it was the product of anti-Semitism.
The baseless hatred and xenophobia directed at Jewish people has been with us for generations. You could be forgiven for thinking that with hundreds of years of experience and practice, civilization should have learned by now to at least bottle up, if not stop, the violence that flows from such hatred.
But no. People of all religions have a right to safety and security, especially when in their places of worship. But even that seemingly inviolable right was ripped away from the people of Squirrel Hill and their religious and humanitarian colleagues around the world. There is no safety, even in a place of worship, certainly not in a country that is increasingly polarized and consuming itself, all the while being armed to the teeth.
But we must not overly compartmentalize this horror. The United States, which increasingly appears to be out of control on a downbound train, is a petrie dish with its militant gun worship and Trump-inspired culture of intolerance, hatred and revenge. Some of these characteristics are unique to America, like Trump himself. Mixed together they make a toxic fertilizer feeding the poisoned garden that is now the U.S.
But they’re not on a different road than much of the world, including Canada. They are only further along.
According to the U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League, anti-Semitic incidents in that country increased 60 per cent last year. The league found 1,986 incidents of physical assault, harassment and vandalism against Jews and Jewish institutions in 2017.
But consider Canada. Global News reported that 14 synagogues across the country received mail that said “Jewry Must Perish.” A high school was defaced with graffiti saying “Jews did 911” along with a Nazi flag.
According to Statistics Canada, Jews were the most targeted minority for hate crimes in 2016. B’nai B’rith Canada says anti-Semitic incidents increased 24 per cent that year and last year saw another increase. The reality in many other parts of the world, including Europe, differs only by a matter of degree. The U.S. is just the canary in the mine shaft.
What will we do? Doing nothing when confronted with hatred and intolerance is no option. If we choose to stand by and allow this poison to continue spreading, we are complicit.
It’s getting clearer with each incident that social media is another breeding ground. The Pittsburgh murderer spewed hatred on a web platform that claims to be a bastion for free speech. No one likes the idea of further limitations on free speech, but we need better ways to confront hatred when it hides behind freedom. This terrible crime could have been stopped had someone notified authorities to intervene earlier, given the shooter’s propensity for hate speech was well known.
Canada is not immune. Intolerance is growing, and its seeds are sown by extremists on social media and even by some politicians. Knowing that, what will we do about it? What will you do? (Source: Hamilton Spectator Editorial)