Remember that time when all the hate had disappeared? All the problems solved? Diversity was in. Racism out. Holocaust movies… in. Antisemitism… out.
Ah yes, those were the good ol’ days. Pepperidge Farms remembers.
It was the 90s, in case you forgot. That magical time when everyone seemed to get along. When the economy seemed just fine. Our president played the sax.
No wonder there’s so much nostalgia for those innocent times.
Of course, like most magic, it was just a trick on our eyes. Just as the economy was secretly getting stacked against us all by the big banks, we should all know by now that the utopia we were imagining we were building was a big, fat lie.
For decades, our country, and the world at large, have been able to hide their bubbling racism and antisemitism under the surface. We were able to hold it down because our methods of mass communication were built to mask reality. Television, radio, newspapers. All controlled by the few. All built to fit into the politically correct world that was increasingly demand they comply with the new utopian rules: no racism. No hate. No antisemitism.
And so we were able to pretend. To act out a play where there were no longer any bad guys.
Of course, all of that seems pretty quaint nowadays. And nothing has revealed the illusion of our utopian past more than the last few weeks: from the war in Gaza to the war in Ferguson, we simply can’t hide from our hate anymore.
I am not talking of what actually happened down on the ground in Gaza and Ferguson. We can talk about Gaza for years (and we will) and most of us can concede we have no idea what actually happened in that police shooting in Ferguson.
No, I’m not talking about those things. About specific wars. About specific incidents.
I’m talking about the reaction. I’m talking about us. About them. About you.
In the 90’s our televisions told us that we had defeated racism, that we were almost at the new romantic utopia.
Now we are beyond the age of the television, in the age when the people control the media. From Twitter to Facebook to blogs. The people are no longer hidden behind the highly-polished veneer of mass media. Now we are openly revealed in all our raw ugliness by social media.
#HitlerWasRight… you may have not heard about that hashtag that didn’t just spread, but trended on Twitter during the war in Gaza… but the Jews noticed. We stood wide awake, aware more than ever before of our precarious balance in the world.
Then, of course, there were the attacks. People beaten simply for being Jews. Synagogues defaced with swastikas.
Stories that may have been hidden in the past, but now, due to social media, we saw immediately and quickly.
And then, of course, there’s Ferguson. Never in my life have I seen so much blatant racism in my newsfeed. By people I consider nice, calm, normal. They are convinced the man deserved it. They justify the actions by police to “quell” the protests.
Then there are the false images of black men with money in their mouths and guns in their hands:
There are the lies being spread. The complaints that “some white guy died the other day and no one noticed”. The nonstop attempt to justify the actions of the police in "handling" the protests.
What seems to matter just as much as the war in Gaza and what happened in Ferguson is the world’s reaction. A reaction that is no longer hidden but out in plain view.
World, you can’t hide your hate anymore. You can’t pretend you aren’t antisemitic, that you aren’t racist, that you have solved all your problems.
It made no sense when in the 90s, twenty five years after blacks were getting food poured on them for protesting segregated diners, that somehow years of racism in our country had been magically eliminated. It also made no sense that a few years of popular Holocaust movies would get rid of thousands of years of antisemitism.
No, under the sparkling veneer of mass media, we were stoking our hate in quiet and hidden ways. Like Orwell said about the British of the 40s, “If, as I suggest, prejudice against Jews has always been pretty widespread in England, there is no reason to think that Hitler has genuinely diminished it. He has merely caused a sharp division between the politically conscious person who realises that this is not a time to throw stones at the Jews, and the unconscious person whose native antisemitism is increased by the nervous strain of the war.”.
In other words, many learned over the years to mask their hate, knowing they would be ostracized. But in their circles, in their hidden world, it stayed alive. And when the right moment came, when the right excuse presented itself, and the right channels to communicate opened, they unleashed that hate back into the world.
From Gaza becoming the bigot’s best excuse to start declaring his love of Hitler to Ferguson becoming the rallying cry of every American sick of the black man actually acting like he deserves a part of our country… these are simply the revelations of the hate that has been bubbling under the surface of our world since Cain killed Abel.
What will it take for hate to be eliminated? Will we ever truly be able to rid the earth of antisemitism and racism? Are we doomed to continue the same cycle over and over?
I don’t know.
But I do know one thing: at least now we can no longer hide from it. At least now we have to face up to it. At least now we need to be honest.
Because we are forced. Because a media controlled by the people will reveal the nature of the people.
Look at it, world, and stop hiding. You can’t hide your hate anymore, and those of us for love, for equality… we won’t be fooled again.
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