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July 15, 2015 0

Public Figures and Petty Hatred

By Abra­ham H. Fox­man
National Direc­tor of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared on The Huff­in­g­ton Post Blog

Here at the Anti-Defamation League, we get it all the time. Most recently when we crit­i­cized Jar­ryd Hayne, a for­mer Aus­tralian rugby star and now a run­ning back on the San Fran­cisco 49ers, for revis­it­ing the ancient charge blam­ing Jews for the death of Christ.

Colum­nist Jef­frey Gold­berg tweeted, “Maybe not the best use of ADL’s time?”

With all that is going on in the world of a seri­ous nature, some say, is that what ADL should be focus­ing on?  Let’s be clear: We deal every­day with the larger issues. On the very day that the Jar­ryd Hayne mat­ter sur­faced, we issued a strong state­ment about the Iran nuclear arrangement.

Still, the crit­ics are miss­ing the point. The anal­ogy I would draw is to the approach taken by New York Police Com­mis­sioner Bill Brat­ton when he assumed the posi­tion for the first time in 1993.

The year before, there had been over 2,000 mur­ders in New York City. All kinds of solu­tions for this huge prob­lem had been sug­gested and tried with­out success.

Brat­ton took a counter-intuitive approach: Focus first not on the big crimes but on the every­day petty ones, like graf­fiti and bro­ken win­dows. Peo­ple chuck­led at this bizarre approach, but it worked. The mur­der rate went into a pre­cip­i­tous decline, even­tu­ally total­ing 333 in 2014.

Bratton’s logic: The cli­mate of tol­er­ance for crime reflected in the small stuff opened the way for the truly hor­ren­dous acts. Clean up the cli­mate and you will clean up crime.

This is a les­son that ADL learned many decades ago in its strug­gle against anti-Semitism and all forms of hatred. When pub­lic fig­ures, whether politi­cians, enter­tain­ers, ath­letes or oth­ers say hate­ful things and they go unan­swered that helps cre­ate a cli­mate recep­tive to broader hate and even vio­lence. There­fore, stand­ing up every time pub­lic fig­ures express hate, rather than being incon­se­quen­tial, is, in fact, among the more impor­tant things one can do to make this a bet­ter society.

When I get asked about some of the major con­tri­bu­tions that ADL has made to Amer­ica over the past cen­tury, I often focus on this point. We have not rid this coun­try of hate, obvi­ously. But we have made it unac­cept­able for pub­lic fig­ures to engage in hate­ful speech with­out a strong reac­tion from the pub­lic and dif­fer­ent sec­tors of soci­ety. This has reduced the level of hate­ful pub­lic speech and made for a health­ier society.

I, of course, rec­og­nize that there are oppo­site trends at work because of the inter­net and social media. The chal­lenge of deal­ing with hate speech through these media is pro­found, one that we and oth­ers work on every day.

Still, the basic con­cept of stand­ing up against hate speech as a social good remains as impor­tant as ever. It rests on the idea that lead­er­ship mat­ters — that set­ting an exam­ple for oth­ers to emu­late is a good thing.

It reflects a belief in the fun­da­men­tal good­ness of the Amer­i­can peo­ple. Pro­vide them the infor­ma­tion, show them that hate­ful com­ments hurt large groups of peo­ple, and they will respond.

Along these lines, I often say that the sin­gle most impor­tant ini­tia­tive ADL took in its long his­tory was the Anti-Mask law that was passed in Geor­gia in 1950. This was a time when the KKK was ram­pant and cre­at­ing havoc. The Klan’s right to march was pro­tected by the First Amend­ment. The law we pro­posed, which was enacted, said they couldn’t march anony­mously, their faces hid­den by those men­ac­ing hoods.

Once they no longer were incog­nito, they lost their pow­er­ful aura. Peo­ple rec­og­nized their neigh­bors. The mys­tery of the Klan — a key to their power — had been evis­cer­ated. The Klan’s decline began.

The les­son for us was pro­found. Bring issues of hate to pub­lic atten­tion, reveal the haters and stand up against hate wher­ever it appears.

Noth­ing petty about that.

July 15, 2015 1

The Voting Rights Advancement Act: Necessary to Ensure Voting Rights for All

Almost fifty years ago, on August 6, 1965, Pres­i­dent Lyn­don B. John­son signed the his­toric Vot­ing Rights Act (VRA), one of the most impor­tant and effec­tive pieces of civil rights leg­is­la­tion ever passed.   In the almost half cen­tury since its pas­sage, the VRA has secured and safe­guarded the right to vote for mil­lions of Amer­i­cans. Its suc­cess in elim­i­nat­ing dis­crim­i­na­tory bar­ri­ers to full civic par­tic­i­pa­tion and in advanc­ing equal polit­i­cal par­tic­i­pa­tion at all lev­els of gov­ern­ment is unde­ni­able. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has sup­ported pas­sage of the VRA and every reau­tho­riza­tion since 1965, filed ami­cus briefs urg­ing the Supreme Court to uphold the law, pro­moted aware­ness about the impor­tance of the VRA, and encour­aged the Depart­ment of Jus­tice to use the VRA to pro­tect vot­ing rights for all.

VRA interns for web

The last time Con­gress extended the VRA, it did so after an exhaus­tive exam­i­na­tion of vot­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion and the impact of the VRA – days of hear­ings and thou­sands of pages of doc­u­men­ta­tion. The leg­is­la­tion passed over­whelm­ing: 390 to 33 in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and 98–0 in the Senate.

Notwith­stand­ing this over­whelm­ing sup­port and exhaustively-documented leg­isla­tive his­tory – and the unde­ni­ably extra­or­di­nary impact of the VRA–a bit­terly divided 5–4 major­ity of the U.S. Supreme Court struck down §4(b) of the VRA (the for­mula to deter­mine which states and polit­i­cal sub­di­vi­sions would have to pre­clear all vot­ing changes) in Shelby County v. Holder , essen­tially gut­ting the heart of the legislation.

Almost imme­di­ately after the deci­sion, states that had been sub­ject to pre­clear­ance over­sight for vot­ing changes began enact­ing laws that threaten to dis­pro­por­tion­ately dis­en­fran­chise minor­ity, young, poor, and elderly vot­ers. Texas, for exam­ple, enacted a strict plan that fed­eral courts had pre­vi­ously rejected, find­ing that there was “more evi­dence of dis­crim­i­na­tory intent than we have space, or need, to address here….Simply put, many His­pan­ics and African Amer­i­cans who voted in the last elec­tions will, because of the bur­dens imposed by SB 14 , likely be unable to vote.”

Texas was not alone in quickly mov­ing to enact unwar­ranted voter ID laws and restric­tions on voter reg­is­tra­tion and early vot­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties. In fact, the efforts over the last few years to restrict vot­ing rights around the coun­try are unprece­dented in mod­ern Amer­ica. The United States has not seen such a major leg­isla­tive push to limit vot­ing rights since right after Reconstruction

In Shelby County, the Court invited Con­gress to craft a new for­mula based on its guid­ance. This leg­is­la­tion, the Vot­ing Rights Advance­ment Act, has now been intro­duced in both the House and the Sen­ate. The mea­sure would update the cov­er­age for­mula, put in place addi­tional safe­guards for vot­ing, and help ensure that all Amer­i­cans can have their say in our democracy.

As we cel­e­brate the anniver­sary of the VRA, it’s time to leg­is­late, not just commemorate.

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July 15, 2015 8

White Supremacists View Donald Trump as Champion of Disaffected Whites

Don­ald Trump’s big­oted remarks about Mex­i­can immi­grants, his sub­se­quent jump in the polls and his abil­ity to attract thou­sands of peo­ple to a cam­paign event in Ari­zona caught the atten­tion of white suprema­cists. Eager to exploit the sit­u­a­tion, some white suprema­cists are hail­ing Trump as a cham­pion of dis­af­fected whites who are angry about non-white immi­gra­tion and cul­tural changes.

Andrew Anglin

Andrew Anglin

On July 13, neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin wrote an arti­cle on The Daily Stormer, the vir­u­lently racist and anti-Semitic site he runs, which praised Trump for his com­ments on Mex­i­cans. Anglin asserted, “The Trump Train has left the sta­tion and is run­ning non-stop to total vic­tory over the bar­bar­ian hordes of Mex­ico. Because there is one issue which mat­ters beyond all other issues and that is the inva­sion of White coun­tries by non-whites.”Anglin adds that “the amount of good” that Trump has done “is immeasurable.”

Writ­ing also on July 13, Peter Brimelow, who runs the racist, anti-immigrant site VDare, attacked “cul­tural Marx­ists,” often a code word for Jews, for rebuk­ing Trump’s remarks and “shut­ting down” the immi­gra­tion debate. Brimelow com­pares the reac­tion to Trump to the neg­a­tive reac­tion to the Con­fed­er­ate flag. Brimelow then implies that the main­stream media “elite” that has rejected Trump’s views is mostly made up of Jews in New York.

Richard Spencer, the head of the National Pol­icy Insti­tute, a white suprema­cist think tank, posted pic­tures of Trump’s cam­paign stop in Ari­zona on July 12, in the online racist jour­nal Radix under the title, “Trump Against the World.” Spencer claimed that Radix peo­ple were at the event. In the arti­cle, he also made an appar­ently sar­cas­tic com­ment about the “diver­sity” of the largely white crowd.

On July 10, non The Alter­na­tive Right, a white suprema­cist web­site, an uniden­ti­fied writer com­pared Trump to a “honey bad­ger” that has ram­paged through the Repub­li­can pri­mary field. The per­son writes, “Even if they could find some way of stop­ping Trump, the man has already left his mark on the 2016 Pres­i­den­tial Race by tap­ping into the ris­ing eth­no­cen­tric tide of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics, some­thing that is hardly likely to dis­si­pate when the lib­eral left is engaged in a mas­sive cul­ture war against White identity.”

Kevin Mac­Don­ald, a white suprema­cist and anti-Semite, wrote an arti­cle about Trump’s can­di­dacy in his online pub­li­ca­tion Occi­den­tal Observer on July 10. Mac­Don­ald claims that “Trump’s state­ments on the crim­i­nal ten­den­cies and gen­er­ally low func­tion­ing of Mex­i­can and Cen­tral Amer­i­can immi­grants have struck a chord with White America.”

*As a 501(c )(3) non-profit orga­ni­za­tion, the Anti-Defamation League does not sup­port or oppose can­di­dates for polit­i­cal office.

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