Antisemitism ends with us

In 1096 the crusaders, Christian religious warrior pilgrims, set out for Jerusalem. Their cause was nominally to protect their Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters from the encroaching Islamic empire. Whatever the reason each of those individuals started with, they quickly found themselves off the rails.

In their march down the Rhine, still firmly in Christendom, their violent anti-Semitic attacks began.

They were fired up. They longed for the “end of days”, they had been and they wanted to see the Jewish people pay for their “crimes”.

These attacks took deeper and deeper root until they walked the streets of Jerusalem, having killed not only the enemy forces that stood against them, but the very people they had come to “liberate”.

In the 1930s Adolf Hitler used these same ideas to propel himself to power, and to systematically exterminate millions of people from marginalized groups. Of course the holocaust only began after years of careful propaganda that shifted societal norms and divided the German people along ethnic lines.

Antisemitism is as old as its ideas are false and nothing that David Bateman said was new or revelatory. It’s the same old antisemitism wrapped up in a new ego.

I am neither a scholar who studies antisemitism, nor am I part of a group towards whom it is are directed. But I suspect that the reason antisemitism keeps coming back is that division is easier than unity. Because unity requires us to change ourselves. People seeking power know this, and you and I must always remember it.

Division gives us an easy out. We didn’t cause our problems. “They” did. It’s the conversion of the biblical scapegoat from representation of the Messiah to a representation of the Devil, and from call to change, to an escape from consequences.

Today we have seen those same divisive ideas peek out from the dark again. They hadn’t gone away, just retreated to the dark parts of our hearts. History has shown where these ideas take us if they are allowed to fester.

Now, we come to the hard part. Do we write them off as crazy? Do we wrestle with ourselves? Do we as a society guard the line of civil discourse?

To write them off as crazy is to ease our conscience without addressing the issue.

The ideas expressed are unbelievable to many of us, but they are not the result of mental illness. They are, and always have been, the province of those seeking power through division, and of those who seek an easy answer to their life’s challenges.

No, we have to take the hard road. First we must look inward, do any of those ideas resonate with us even the smallest amount? If we were in a room where they were expressed would we laugh at them? Would we be embarrassed but say nothing? Or would we stand against them vocally? If not the latter then we have work to do.

With that work done we need to look outward. We need to then decry the use of division by reaching out to those who we would be divided from to build bridges. We must stand with them, arm in arm. And we must vocally oppose those who seek to push our new found friends into the category of “other”.

So what can we do to fight antisemitism and build a better Utah tech community?

A good first step is to work with your company's leadership group to sign the pledge started by Utah Tech Leads. Speaking out publicly is a good first step. A good second step is putting your money where your heart is. One of my favorite organizations working in this space is, The Holocaust Museum. They work tirelessly to educate people about the holocaust, and extremism. If you’re unfamiliar with their work, here are a few articles to get you started.

We cannot allow these ideas to exist in even the smallest corner of our hearts or our communities. Only then can we find unity through diversity. Only then can we be justified in saying “that’s not the kind of people we are.”

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Published: 18 January 2021 | Tags: leadership