In New York: Crazy, Kids – or Old Fashioned Hatred? You Be The Judge

Roosevelt Island, N.Y. With the rising tide of homophobia, xenophobia, racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism since the election of Donald Trump in America, indeed the world, we cannot expect to avoid a reflection in our own backyard. Even the elderly and disabled are suffering with severe budget cuts. Luckily the reflection is small. In fact, we ponder if it is just one disturbed individual, teens, or actual hatred?

IMG_9908Roosevelt Island resident Sharon Stern reports that her door posting of a political
and environmental nature have also been defaced. Photo: Stewardship Report.

Authoritarianism is on the rise globally, and with every angry tweet from the White House, bullying and prejudice is more and more normalized. How to explain to our children right from wrong when they witness such putridity from the White House?

Here on Roosevelt Island, a bastion of liberality in one of the nation’s most progressive cities, we too have nonsense. Last week I saw “Death to Faggots” scrawled on the wall as I walked my dog. I did not even bother to report it – too common, too stupid. And building maintenance in Roosevelt Landings is extremely responsible in covering such filth, usually within a day.

IMG_9912Building maintenance is extremely responsible in covering such filth.
Photo: Stewardship Report.

One (presumably) man in our building has spent the last decade scrawling pro-Trump, racist conspiracy theories naming the Federal Reserve, George Soros, the IRS, Deep State, the Masons, etc. I recognize the rants from the John Birch Society which existed in Ohio where I grew up in the 1970’s.

Since the publication of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in 1903, this trope has been popularized: Jews of trying to control the world with imagery depicting Jews, or their supporters, as trying to control the world. Examples of this imagery include Nazi cartoons that depict Jews as octopuses, encircling the globe.

IMG_9907Sharon Stern says she is ‘deeply upset and dismayed’ to have
her door decorations defaced. Photo: Stewardship Report.

Wikipedia notes:

Another world-domination conspiracy goes by the name Zionist Occupation Government (ZOG) and various other names, and claims that Jews secretly control the governments of Western states. The expression is used by white supremacistwhite nationalistfar rightnativist,  black nationalist, or antisemitic groups in the United States  and Europe, as well as by ultra-nationalists such as Svoboda in Ukraine.

As Ronald Lauder states, Anti-Semitism doesn’t happen all of a sudden. It happens when more and more people see anti-Semitism as a way of life. We must reject hate and bigotry and hold those who traffic in it accountable. Words are not enough. We need action.

Of course, with lax gun laws enabled by Republicans, hatred can be amplified with deadly consequences. Mass shootings are on the rise. Domestic terrorism is spiking in America.

IMG_9909This handwriting has been posting John Birch-like rants in Roosevelt Landings
for many years, always erased by maintenance. Photo: Stewardship Report.

Hate crimes against LGBTQ people have also been the rise since Trump’s election, according to FBI data. While most hate crimes in the U.S. are motivated by bias toward race and religion, the number of crimes based on sexual orientation rose each year from 2014 to 2017, when 1,130 incidents were reported. Of those crimes, a majority targeted gay men.

Crimes motivated by a bias toward gender identity – against transgender and non-binary individuals – have generally risen since 2013, when the FBI first began recording them. At least eleven transgender people have been fatally shot or killed by other violent means in 2019, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Recent media reports suggest that crimes against black transgender women, in particular, have spiked this year.

IMG_9911Roosevelt Island removes racist rants. Photo: Stewardship Report.

Many people who experience hate crimes do not report the incidents to law enforcement, for various reasons. I believe the FBI data dramatically underestimates the true number of hate crimes against the LGBTQ community. A better gauge of hate crime trends in the U.S. may be the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), a household-based survey administered by the U.S. Census Bureau. This self-reported data suggests that Americans experience closer to 200,000 hate crimes each year – a far cry from the FBI’s estimate of approximately 7,500.

Anti-Muslim zealotry is also on the rise, also fueled by our so-called president. As the Washington Post reports:

Trump’s anti-Muslim bigotry has a long history. In 2011 and 2012, Trump insinuated that President Barack Obama was secretly Muslim. In September 2015, at a campaign rally, Trump nodded along as a supporter claimed “we have a problem in this country; it’s called Muslims.” Trump continued nodding, saying “right,” and “we need this question!” as the supporter then proceeded to ask Trump “when can we get rid of them [Muslims]?” In response, Trump said: “We’re going to be looking at a lot of different things.”

In November 2015, on “Morning Joe,” Trump said that America needs to “watch and study the mosques.” Four days later, he indicated that he would “certainly implement” a database to track Muslims in the United States. Two days after that, he falsely claimed that “thousands and thousands” of Muslims cheered in New Jersey when the World Trade Center collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001.

Then came the most egregious statement — one that should haunt Trump’s legacy forever and taint everyone who supported him subsequently: On Dec. 7, 2015, he called to ban all Muslims from entering the United States. Three days later, Trump tweeted that the United Kingdom is “trying hard to disguise their massive Muslim problem.” On March 9, 2016, Trump falsely claimed that “Islam hates us.”

Upon taking office, Trump surrounded himself with anti-Muslim bigots. Sebastian Gorka, a former Trump adviser, was fired by the FBI for his Islamophobia. Michael Flynn, Trump’s disgraced national-security-adviser-turned-felon, said that Islam “is like a cancer.” And top officials such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton have also stoked hatred of Islam.

In late November 2017, Trump retweeted three videos by Jayda Fransen. She was one of the leaders of Britain First, a neo-fascist hate group. She has been convicted of multiple hate-crime offenses and was involved in  organizing  “Christian patrols,” which included what Britain First called “mosque invasions” aimed at intimidating British Muslims. While Fransen was out on bail, she appeared on Radio Aryan, a neo-Nazi radio station. Her interview began right after the station concluded its reading from “Mein Kampf.” That is who the president of the United States chose to amplify to his millions and millions of Twitter followers.

The list of Trump’s anti-Muslim bigotry goes on and on. But just imagine replacing the word “Muslim” with “Jewish” or “black” in any of statements above. It immediately becomes clear that there is a grotesque double standard when it comes to the mainstream acceptance of anti-Muslim bigotry without consequence in the United States and the broader Western world. We must never reduce our vigilance toward the dangerous scourges of anti-Semitism and racism, but we must hold anti-Muslim bigots to the same standard that we would hold other bigots.

Last week, a prominent Fox News host and Trump ally, Judge Jeanine Pirro, suggested that wearing a Muslim hijab could be incompatible with believing in the U.S. Constitution. After her remarks sparked outrage, Pirro went on broadcasting as usual, only eliciting a toothless statement from Fox News. It’s clear that in media and in politics alike, vilifying Muslims is not unsavory enough to actually elicit consequences.

Of course, the war on Black America has intensified under Trump, as Black Lives Matter has tracked. The president has created an atmosphere in which police brutality has continued to be normalized.

IMG_9910This modern art piece was once Pure Hatred. Photo: Stewardship Report.

So, you be the judge. From Turkey to Russia, the Philippines to India, Hungry to the U.K. and Israel… To our own backyard on Roosevelt Island in New York City. Is it simply mental illness? Boys will be boys? Or, may I suggest, the putrid waters of Old Fashioned Hatred muddied by Donald Trump.

NOTE: Governor Cuomo created the Hate Crimes Task force to fight the increase in reports of bias-motivated threats, harassment and violence throughout New York State. Run by the State Police with the assistance of the State Division of Human Rights, and the Division of Criminal Justice Services, the Task Force works together to prevent, investigate, and monitor Hate Crimes and violations of Human Rights Law. The Task Force has already reviewed thousands of complaints and investigated those cases with probable cause. The Task Force works collaboratively with local law enforcement and prosecutors. Residents who have experienced bias-motivated threats, harassment or discrimination are encouraged to call the toll-free hotline 888-392-3644 or Text “HATE” to 81336 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.,Monday-Friday. If you need to report a crime or fear your safety, call 911 immediately.

Photos taken Jan. 1, 2020. If you have images from Roosevelt Island to share, text them to (347) 316-7087. Texting them grants The Stewardship Report permission to publish.

See also David Stone’s RIOC Challenged by Graffiti, Some Racist and Obscene, on Roosevelt Island (5/26/18)

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About Jim Luce: Thought Leaders & Global Citizens

View all posts by Jim Luce: Thought Leaders & Global Citizens
Jim Luce: Thought Leaders & Global Citizens
Jim Luce (www.lucefoundation.org) writes and speaks on Thought Leaders and Global Citizens. Bringing 26 years management experience within both investment banking and the non-profit sector, Jim has worked for Daiwa Bank, Merrill Lynch, a spin-off of Lazard Freres, and two not-for profit organizations and a foundation he founded. As Founder & CEO of Orphans International Worldwide (www.oiww.org), he is working with a strong network of committed professionals to build interfaith, interracial, Internet-connected orphanages in Haiti and Indonesia, and creating a new, family-care model for orphans in Sri Lanka and Tanzania.

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