Tuesday, May 5, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Frank Bruni: The oldest hatred, forever young

FrankBruniW

Most of the hate crimes in the United States don’t take the fatal form that the shootings in Kansas over the weekend did, and most aren’t perpetrated by villains as bloated with rage and blinded by conspiracy theories as the person accused in this case, Frazier Glenn Miller. He’s an extreme, not an emblem.

This is someone who went on Howard Stern’s radio show four years ago (why, Howard, did you even hand him that megaphone?) and called Adolf Hitler “the greatest man who ever walked the Earth.” When Stern asked Miller whether he had more intense antipathy for Jews or for blacks (why that question?), Miller chose the Jews, definitely the Jews, “a thousand times more,” he said.

“Compared to our Jewish problem, all other problems are mere distractions,” he declaimed, and he apparently wasn’t just spouting off. He was gearing up.

On Sunday, according to the police, he drove to a Jewish community center in Overland Park, Kan., and opened fire, then moved on to a nearby Jewish retirement home and did the same. Three people were killed.

They were Christian, as it happens. When hatred is loosed, we’re all in the crossfire.

On Monday, as law enforcement officials formally branded what happened in Kansas a hate crime, I looked at the spectrum of such offenses nationally: assault, intimidation, vandalism.

The FBI keeps statistics, the most recent of which are for 2012. In the United States that year there were 6,573 hate-crime incidents reported to the bureau (a fraction, no doubt, of all that occurred). While most were motivated by race, about 20 percent were motivated by the victims’ perceived religion — roughly the same percentage as those motivated by the victims’ presumed sexual orientation. I didn’t expect a number that high.

Nor did I expect this: Of the religion-prompted hate crimes, 65 percent were aimed at Jews, a share relatively unchanged from five years earlier (69 percent) and another five before that (65 percent). In contrast, 11 percent of religious-bias crimes in 2012 were against Muslims.

Our country has come so far from the anti-Semitism of decades ago that we tend to overlook the anti-Semitism that endures. We’ve moved on to fresher discussions, newer fears.

Following 9/11, there was enormous concern that all Muslims would be stereotyped and scapegoated, and this heightened sensitivity lingers. It partly explains what just happened at Brandeis University. The school had invited Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a celebrated advocate for Muslim women, to receive an honorary degree. But when some professors and students complained, citing statements of hers that seemed broadly derisive of Islam, the invitation was withdrawn. Clearly, university officials didn’t want their campus seen as a cradle or theater of Islamophobia.

But other college campuses in recent years have been theaters of anti-Israel discussions that occasionally veer toward, or bleed into, condemnations of Jews. And while we don’t have the anti-Semitism in our politics that some European countries do, there’s still bigotry under the surface. There are still caricatures that won’t die.

One of them flared last month on Christian televangelist Pat Robertson’s TV show. His guest was a rabbi who, shockingly, was himself trafficking in the notion that Jews excel at making money. The rabbi said that a Jew wouldn’t squander a weekend tinkering with his car when he could hire a mechanic and concentrate on something else.

“It’s polishing diamonds, not fixing cars,” Robertson interjected.

Polishing diamonds?

In a 2013 survey of 1,200 American adults for the Anti-Defamation League, 14 percent agreed with the statement that “Jews have too much power” in our country, while 15 percent said Jews are “more willing to use shady practices” and 30 percent said that American Jews are “more loyal to Israel” than to the United States.

That’s disturbing, as is the way in which the Holocaust is minimized by its repeated invocation as an analogy. In separate comments this year, venture capitalist Tom Perkins and Kenneth Langone, one of the founders of Home Depot, said that the super-rich in America were being vilified the way Jews in Nazi Germany had been.

It’s not just Kansas and the heartland where anti-Semitism, sometimes called the oldest hatred, stays young.

A story in The Times last year focused on an upstate New York community in which three Jewish families filed suit against the school district, citing harassment of Jewish students by their peers. The abuse included Nazi salutes and swastikas drawn on desks, on lockers, on a playground slide.

When a parent complained in 2011, the district’s superintendent responded, in an email: “Your expectations for changing inbred prejudice may be a bit unrealistic.”

Well, the only way to breed that prejudice out of the generations to come is never to shrug our shoulders like that — and never to avert our eyes.

— The New York Times

Comments

comments

New York Times News Service

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

     
    Sexual assault awareness campaign recognizes teens

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Mother, daughters killed in crash caused by wrong-way driver

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Sunrise Rotarians honor student role models

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

     
    Vet Med Large Animal Clinic has a new director

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B3

    Party celebrates release of Lescroart’s new novel

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

     
    Grace Valley hosts open house

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B3

    Indoor Fun Fly comes to Woodland

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

     
    Learn to use walking poles effectively

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

    Capitol drive collects essentials for young lives

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    Faulkner featured at Poetry Night on Thursday

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

    Sunset Rotary hosts Thursday-afternoon bingo

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

     
    Winters agri-tour visits Four Winds Nursery

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

    Got bikes? Donate ‘em!

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

     
    Fresh cherries at Sutter market

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Pets of the week

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

     
    Speakers cancel for health reasons

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

    Davis Municipal Fiber will give people a choice

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

     
    Independent study enrollment underway

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

    Special KDRT broadcast celebrates Grateful Dead’s 50 years

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

     
    Information offered on city tax refund program

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10

    Monthly tour set at Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10 | Gallery

     
    Tour de Cluck participants can get here by train

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

    .

    Forum

    Think long and hard about our town’s future

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4

     
    Whom will our council represent?

    By Michelle Millet | From Page: B4

    Weeds pose a threat to pets

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

     
    Is your bike waiting for you?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Tips to reduce student stress

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

     
    John Cole cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: B4

    .

    Sports

     
    DHS celebrates Senior Day with a fun victory

    By Chris Saur | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Visiting Eagles edge Blue Devils

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Majors roundup: Thompson, D’Angelo lead Brew Crew rally

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    UCD roundup: Aggies baseballers fall in 13 innings

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B12

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    Stellar acting brings home Capital Stage’s dark comedy

    By Bev Sykes | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    Student choreographers, dancers stage festival at UC Davis

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery

    From Bach to rock, Regal Beezers will entertain

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    Student filmmakers showcased at UCD Festival

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Emma Sallie Wing Hale

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

     
    Robert Simpson Loomis

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Tuesday, May 5, 2015 (set 1)

    By Creator | From Page: B5

     
    Comics: Tuesday, May 5, 2015 (set 2)

    By Creator | From Page: B7