We need to end hate speech

A recent political cartoon posted at a newspaper social media site that was supposed to make Kansans wonder if they should follow all of Gov. Laura Kelly’s COVID-19 recommendations or reject them, did that but also riled up Jewish people all across the world because it contained an historical image of actual Jewish people being loading onto railroad cars in the 1940s that - as we all know - ultimately took them to German concentration camps like Auschwitz where they were slaughtered, starved to death or left for dead.

Other examples of “going a little too far’’ in political cartoons these days, in my opinion, include depictions of President Donald Trump as German Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.

The line is now blurred, perhaps forever, between what should be acceptable to most Americans, and what is definitely not acceptable to most Americans. You can blame the internet, if you want. Libel and slander laws, for example, are not currently extended to web content, but should be.

Ever since George Floyd died while in the custody of Minneapolis police, it seems “hate speech’’ has been spiraling out of control all across this country. And it keeps getting worse.

The peaceful protests and the crime-filled riots over the circumstances surrounding Floyd’s death spawned “De-fund Police’’ initiatives and renewed “Black Lives Matter’’ demonstrations all across the country.

People with viewpoints that do not mirror the protesters and rioters better watch out because they can be targeted next with verbal abuse and/or physical harm. 

Where once there was room for dissenting views and respect for other people’s opinions in this country, now there is just more vicious hate speech and cowardly sucker punches when people with differing views aren’t looking or expecting.

A Jewish person concerned and upset about the political cartoon reminded the political cartoonist that most Jews today are just one or two generations removed from family members who were murdered by the German Army in World War II and still mourn the loss of their loved ones. 

The Jewish person also said that whenever the Holocaust of their people is evoked in conversation and discussed in insensitive ways there always seems to be a resulting uptick in all hate speech in general.

Hate speech is public speech that expresses hate or encourages violence towards a person or group based on something such as race, religion, sex or sexual orientation.

According to some estimates, between 1.1 million to 1.5 million people, the vast majority of them Jews, died at the Auschwitz concentration camp during its years of operation. There were other concentration camps, also.

An estimated 70,000 to 80,000 Poles perished at the camp, too, along with 19,000 to 20,000 Romas and smaller numbers of Soviet prisoners of war and other individuals.

There is one thing we do not need more of these days and that is hate speech.

Instead, we need more understanding of other people’s feelings, their fears and their concerns - especially as it relates to COVID-19 and also, yes, as it relates to political and racial issues.

More people these days seem to be on edge about “all of the above’’ and many other things going on in the world. If someone does not share our views on when and where to wear facemasks, should that make them bad people? Of course, not. But that is happening, too.

What’s the solution to all this?

I think it starts with better leadership, better examples and more accountability from our national news leaders. None of our national leaders, Republicans and Democrats alike, should be allowed to get away with lies, deceptions and hate speech regularly directed at their colleagues in the other major political party.

The dysfunction we see in Congress, in my view, along with the anxiety brought on by COVID-19, is a big reason there’s so much hate speech these days. It all has to stop.

When you go to the election polls, consider these things. 

The Holton Recorder

109 W. Fourth St.
Holton, KS 66436
Phone: 785-364-3141

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