|No One is Born Hating|
But too many die because of hate. Bufurd Furrow¹s deadly rampage inspired by a racist and anti-Semitic hate group, claimed the latest victims. As we mourn the tragic death of Joseph Ileto, and pray for the speedy recovery of the wounded Jewish children, teenager and grandmother, we must also rededicate ourselves to promoting and implementing the most basic values of our nation.
With more than nine decades of experience as the pioneer human relations agency, the American Jewish Committee is convinced that there are some universal principles that can be used to stop bigotry and to promote understanding among different racial, religious and ethnic groups.
Political leaders must dedicate themselves full time to fighting hate in word and deed. The Congress, without further hesitation, must pass firm gun control laws and strengthen hate crimes laws, starting with the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. State legislatures that have not yet adopted hate crimes laws should do so.
Religious leaders must continually remind believers that virtually all religions, in remarkably similar language, agree: ³Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.² Christian spiritual leaders have a special challenge to speak out against the perversion of their sacred theology by hate groups, and to prevent purveyors of hate from infiltrating mainstream churches.
Schools must actively teach tolerance and mutual respect among groups. AJC¹s Hands Across the Campus² program, first developed in Los Angeles, is used in schools nationwide.
The media must report fairly, responsibly and completely, and should actively encourage a deeper appreciation for pluralism.
Communities must join together, as they did recently in Sacramento in response to the arson attacks on three synagogues and in Chicago after a hate-inspired gunman killed and wounded African Americans, Asian Americans and Jews. They must show that an attack on any person is an assault on the entire community.
Individuals must take responsibility for combating hatred in their own lives and among family and friends, and recognize that America¹s diversity is truly a source of strength, not weakness.
It comes down to just two choices. We can continue to teach children to harm and even kill one another, in the name of race or religion or ethnicity, and risk being harmed or killed in return. Or we can teach them to overcome differences and live peaceably, with others, respecting and even celebrating diversity. Which choice would you make for your children?
The American Jewish Committee Bruce M. Ramer: National President
Richard S. Volpert: President, Los Angeles Chapter
Rabbi Gary Greenebaum: Executive Director, Los Angeles Chapter
The American Jewish Committee combats bigotry and anti-Semitism and promotes intergroup understanding. Through the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, the Belfer Center for American Pluralism, the Skirball Institute for American Values, and Hands Across the Campus, AJC seeks to nurture pluralism and democratic values.
The American Jewish Committee 9911 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90035 (310) 282-8080
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