Back in the USSR? No, It’s Actually Back in the U.S.

Yes, readers, it’s official, the U.S. is a country with all kinds of hate. I opened the Internet on Memorial Day thinking about my father-in-law, Bill Solomon, who said that he fought in World War II to stop Hitler. He was wounded in battles in North Africa and on D-Day, but never really wanted anything to do with the government after the war. I don’t know why he didn’t seek out veterans benefits because he needed them, but I do know that he loathed both the wars in Korea and Vietnam.

Back to the morning and the Internet. I followed a story from Warwick, N.Y., where a young man was sentenced to six months in jail for spray-painting Nazi slogans and symbols at a Jewish cemetery (“New York teen to serve jail time for vandalizing Jewish cemetery,” Times of Israel, May 24, 2018). I then moved to an article about more than 200 swastikas that had been spray-painted on headstones at a nondenominational cemetery in Illinois (“Swastikas Spray-Painted on More Than 200 Headstones in Illinois Cemetery,” Slate, May 26, 2018). Where does this penchant for hate come from in this country? Why is it so pervasive? Why do many not see the other as a part of themselves through a basic sense of humanity?

Then it was back to reading, this time about a primarily Muslim community in Michigan where some live in fear of attacks. The fear and loathing that Trump has engendered throughout this nation among people of goodwill boggles the mind ( “‘It’s brought us together’: at Ramadan, American Muslims on life in age of Trump,” Guardian, May 28, 2018)!

And if this were not enough, the Guardian reports that racism in the U.S. in cities experiencing gentrification of neighborhoods is now taking place regularly as those established residents clash with the newcomers in coffee shops across the nation (“Coffee shop racism; where America’s racial divisions are exposed,” May 28, 2018). Readers will recall the recent arrest of two black men in a Philadelphia Starbucks who were waiting to have a business meeting.

I ended my reading for the day online with an article about the FBI’s statistics on hate published in 2017 (“Hate crimes in the United States increased last year, the FBI says,” Washington Post, May 13, 2017). Although these crimes took place in the pre-Trump era, common sense arguments can be made about the level of hate during the presidency of a black man.

More hate crimes were carried out in the United States last year, with an uptick in incidents motivated by bias against Jews, Muslims and LGBT people, among others, according new FBI data released Monday.

There were more than 6,100 reported incidents of hate crimes in 2016, up from more than 5,800 the year before, the FBI said in a report based on data submitted by law enforcement agencies across the country. The number of hate crimes increased for a second consecutive year, and as was the case in 2015, the largest share of victims last year — nearly 6 in 10 — were targeted because of bias against the victim’s race or ethnicity.

The U.S. seems to be in a kind of feeding frenzy of hate against groups that haters seem overjoyed to target: Jews, Muslims, blacks, and those from the LGBTQ community. I thought about my father-in-law who must have seen horrific things during the war. He spoke about giving out chocolates to kids in France as his company marched east from the coast.  A guess would be that he would be speechless if he would have lived to see the outrages around the world that hate and greed have created! 

Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer. He is the author of Against the Wall: Memoir of a Vietnam-Era War Resister (2017).

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