Weapons of Mass Distraction *

“The bow of God’s bow is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string.”
Jonathan Edward. Sinners in the hands of an angry God, 1742

Dog Whistle,   Noun
Politics.: A political strategy, statement, or slogan using coded or suggestive language that coveys a controversial, secondary message understood only by those who support the message.

Can we hear it, you and I? Can we hear it in the silence? Can we hear the dog whistles?

Hate is a malignancy hiding in silence. Hate is a slimy primordial ooze below the soil like quicksand, waiting to drag a victim down. We call it by many words: anti-Semitism, racial prejudice, nationalism, white supremacy, and so many more. Evil always finds a home in silence.

Hiding in the dark in silence, “we’re better than they are” for the seed for hate, bigotry, anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim, and white nationalism. Prejudice, fanaticism, xenophobia, and contempt for others have always been with us. Malevolence spreads around the world, concealed under the surface like a puss-filled boil. “Whatever the ISM, they are viruses living in our cities and neighborhoods, and in small towns. We don’t see it, and it’s invisible. Many don’t want to acknowledge the disease. Those infected hide it from others, often using code words to obfuscate their views.

Is failure to act when confronted by hate a form of silence? Most assuredly, yes.

The ooze of hatred starts small. It begins at home. It grows in elementary school, watching a classmate bullied without doing anything.

Watching from the sideline demands we have three choices. One, we continue to watch, even take pleasure in the spectacle. Two, we turn away, pretending it isn’t happening.

The third choice takes courage. To intervene – takes pluck – possibly putting oneself in harm’s way. You may even incur the wrath of spectators enjoying the show.

Do we stay silent in the wake of so many police-involved killings of Black Americans? Many are not remaining silent, making that third choice. Black Lives Matter is more than a slogan. It’s right there in black and white. According to the second paragraph of the US Constitution, “All men are created equal.”

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were grand-sounding words….until they were not.

We can make a long list of racial prejudice, black slavery. Even after the Thirteenth Amendment to our Constitution, white supremacists have fine-tuned exploitation, maltreatment, oppression, and the power of the State to make a mockery of “all men are created equal.”

When systemic racism is the knee on the neck of black men and women, how can we be surprised when the victims stand up and say Silence is Violence.

It’s ironic to read the Hitler was fascinated with America’s racial laws, using that as a basis for his unique form of hatred. I had a professor say that while Hitler didn’t invent anti-Semitism, he perfected it, first targeting Jews for disfranchisement and segregation. That would have felt familiar to blacks in American from Reconstruction onward.

Not stopping there, the Nazis perfected killing, State-sponsored genocide on a scale unimaginable. Today it’s hard to imagine the true horror. As time passes, we start to hear dog whistles and whispers that the Shoah wasn’t all that bad. Worse, we hear the whispered lies that the holocaust didn’t even happen.

How cruel must someone be to relegate the deaths of millions to a Hollywood movie set, lights, camera, action?

Why do we allow ourselves to be distracted by such nonsense? How willing are we to make that third choice and stand up to the bullies?

Can we ever ignore that ultimate example? Shoah, The Holocaust unleashed unimaginable evil upon Jews solely for being Jews. They added The Roma, the incurably sick, the mentally disabled, communists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and gays.

The World Holocaust Remembrance Center, Yad Vashem, is committed to four pillars of remembrance: commemoration, documentation, education, and research. Efforts like that remind us that it should never happen again.

Can we see it, you and? Can you see the silence, the silence of our choices?*

* Weapons of Mass Distraction: Racist Dog Whistles and Anti-Semitic Tropes in Political Advertising. An online call to action event planned by Bend the Arc: Jewish Action South Florida.

About the author


View all posts