On April 8 we memorialized the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. On May 8 we will mark the 68th anniversary of the end of World War II which resulted in 25 million civilian casualties.
Did I say “the end of the war”? In fact, the war never ended. It has been followed by localized conflicts in which civilians are being targeted, killed, and displaced, their lives disrupted, thousands of women widowed and thousands of children orphaned. As I write this post war is raging in Syria, there are daily bombings in Iraq and elsewhere, and the victims are mostly civilians.
I was shocked to hear one morning on the radio a famous psychiatrist stating that the bombings in Boston and elsewhere were to be expected, that they have become a way of life. This is shocking. Are we really resigned to the fact that this is “the way of life” in the 21st century? Are all the institutions created after WWII to promote peace in this troubled world paralyzed?
And now the heinous act of violence in Boston. I shudder to think that this is a domestic act of violence, of the nature of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. The motto of this blog has been since the beginning that language can heal, and language can kill. As of this writing there is no hint of who committed the dastardly act in Boston. But someone, somewhere has heard the person responsible uttering words of hate. It is our responsibility as individuals to react to this, not to ignore it.
Yes, I know that the free speech argument comes into play, that in the United States we do not censor speech. But those who spread hate speech should be considered potential killers. They should be exposed, ostracized, and brought to the attention of organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti-Defamation League, and other local human rights organizations. The biggest tragedies in our lifetime started with hate speech. I remind you of Hitler and his Nazi movement, and in our time elements in the Islamic world who openly and unashamedly encourage killing in the name of God. How obscene!
The Holocaust left an indelible stain of tears and pain, blood and shame on humanity. The Boston massacre and the acts of violence perpetuated daily are adding another layer to the stain. Do not be complacent! It is our duty to be aware and beware of the roots of such violence and do everything we can to avert it.