No Time For Hate

Why America Needs a Wake-Up Call on Intolerance

Hurelayn Abdu, Specials Editor

“Go back to your country!”
These are words that we hear people shout at others on television news programs and online clips on an almost – daily basis. These incidents occur because angry people, emboldened by the current political climate, spew hate towards those who they feel do not belong in this country because they are not “true Americans.”

I’ve thought a lot about this topic in recent months. For a long time, I’ve been shielded from incidents such as these personally, but I know that it is going on around me. However, it turned personal recently when a woman yelled cruel and xenophobic language at a family friend of mine who was wearing a hijab. The incident, which took place at a local grocery store, consisted of a woman walking up to our family friend and yelling, “Go back to your country!” Not wanting to just stand there and take it, our friend responded to the woman and told her to stop being so bigoted, to which the woman simply glared at her and walked away. The aspect of this that upsets me most is that the United States is her country; she’s just as American as the woman who yelled at her, but this woman saw her hijab and decided that it was time to let her know that she didn’t want that in her America.

Our nation has seen a drastic rise in incidents like this over the last several months. Any examination of the news reveals that there has been a noticeable rise in intolerance across all minority communities. This level of intolerance has been especially strong for religious reasons, racial and ethnic minority reasons, and for LGBTQ community reasons. Latinos, Muslims, Jews, transgender individuals, and immigrants from most nations have suffered at the hands of intolerant citizens from all walks of life.
This intolerance has been fueled by our nation’s societal issues and increasingly volatile political decisions, none more divisive than the Executive Orders that sought to ban travel to the U.S. from majority – Muslim countries, and a tightened enforcement of immigration laws, which resulted in Immigration and Customs Enforcements (ICE) raids happening across the nation.

However, could all of this hate just appear out of nowhere? Did people just all of a sudden decide that they despise a whole group of people and that it is time they took action? The answer to that is a definite no. While most Americans are open-minded and caring, a small minority possesses a hatred of people who are different from them, or who even fear them. The people who are speaking their opinion so vocally now have always been hateful, but today they are emboldened to speak their minds. They have stood up and moved from the shadows. They are no longer spewing their hatred behind a screen, in their small group, or under a sheet, but instead are openly organizing and acting out.

Muslim-Americans have faced extreme bias since the 9/11 attacks. Ever since that fateful day, the Muslim-American community has been associated with a group of people who used religion as an excuse to spread terror and commit heinous crimes. This association has led Muslim-Americans to stare into the eyes of people who judge them and even despise them simply because of their religion. While no group in America needs more negative associations, this is especially true for Muslim-Americans, but that hope faded recently when President Trump put forth two travel bans. While both have been struck down in the courts, the action by Trump shows just where he and his appointees stand.
The Latino, Jewish and LGBTQ communities have also faced their share of increased public and political scrutiny lately. With talks of building a southern border wall spreading across the nation, many Latino/Hispanic-Americans have been victims of the backlash of such talk.

In February, the White House overturned the Obama-era executive order that allowed transgender student protections regarding what bathroom they use, leaving transgender – students in a vulnerable spot.

The Jewish community has been experiencing an increased amount of hate, with anti-Semitic sentiment popping up across the nation. Bomb threats at Jewish centers, the trashing of Jewish cemeteries and the vandalism of synagogues are just a few of the destructive actions that have happened to the Jewish community recently.

The question now is what do we do? How do we solve this problem? To be perfectly honest, I’m not completely sure, but the first step is addressing the issue and acknowledging that it exists. While I might not be completely sure what we should do, I do know that we are going to need leaders to step up and lead. If our current leaders don’t do this, then we need to step up ourselves; after all, that is how some of the most revolutionary movements in our nation’s rich history began.