There is no question that hate crimes are on the rise in America. Anecdotal evidence suggested it, and statistics from police departments across the country have confirmed it.
A large percentage of the hate crimes that have been reported in recent months have been anti-Semitic. The wave of anti-Semitic threats and vandalism that has swept the nation has recently hit home in Rochester. A Jewish cemetery in Rochester was vandalized last week. The Jewish Community Center in Brighton received a bomb threat on Tuesday.
It should go without saying that these actions—and any other crimes committed because of the victim’s race, religion, nationality or sexual orientation—are heinous and have no place in our society. But all too often, it does go without saying. There is a growing sentiment that this country has become too “politically correct,” but allowing “harmless” comments by people who “don’t really mean it” to go unchecked emboldens those who do really mean it.
Hate crimes fly in the face of why our country was founded: the belief that everyone is equal and has a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To treat people as lesser humans because of their race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation or any other reason is not just an attack on them, it is an attack on the fabric of the United States.
Those of us who would live in a country free of hate must be louder than those who deal in hate. We must not think that if the hate isn’t directed at us, we do not need to get involved. We must not think that if we don’t have hateful thoughts ourselves, we do not need to get involved.
Merely being somebody who isn’t part of the problem isn’t enough. We all must be part of the solution. Whenever and wherever you encounter hate—at work, your place of worship, school, a family gathering, etc.—you owe it to yourself and your community to denounce it.