Bigotry, Prejudice, Racism: America’s Toxic Virus

November 24, 2016 4:48 pm Last Updated: November 24, 2016 5:17 pm

As America celebrates Thanksgiving, we must pause and reflect on the words of Abraham Lincoln.

These words from his Oct. 3, 1863 proclamation, set apart the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise:”

“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.”

Lincoln’s proclamation continues to solemnly address the “unequalled magnitude and severity” of the Civil War which has depleted the wealth and strength of the nation.

The proclamation ends with his calling upon the nation to offer “humble penitence for perverseness and disobedience.”

Lincoln also calls upon us to “heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and Union.”

A virus had entered America, and Lincoln called upon the nation to combat it.

America: Combating a New Virus

Lincoln responded to the virus infected by the Civil War through his character, ethics, and leadership.

These virtues are once again critical for America, as a new virus, propagating by bigotry, prejudice, and racism, is now infecting the nation.

According to recent data from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), “incidents of hateful harassment since election day now number 701.”

The SPLC based its report from news articles, social media, and direct submissions. Therefore, although this report has anecdotal aspects, the reality is that it is most likely underreported, as crime reports usually are.

A pattern in the SPLC “hatewatch” update is that anti-immigrant incidents are at the top of the harassment concerns. A more sobering aspect of this issue is that nearly 40 percent of all these incidents occurred in educational (K-12 schools and university/college) settings.

This is an alarming statistic as educational communities must be havens of character. Character is essential to the heartbeat of the nation and to the welfare of our communities and families.

Incidents in the SPLC report ranked by volume after anti-immigrant, are anti-black, anti-LGBT, swastika vandalism, anti-Muslim, and anti-women.

The NYPD: An Uptick in Hate Crimes

Responding to a swastika discovered in a Brooklyn Park, Robert Boyce, Chief of NYPD Detectives, stated that it was the 13th reported in the city since Election Day.

Boyce also stated that other swastikas have been found in a Manhattan school, and a Brooklyn housing development.

New York Police Department Commissioner James O’Neill told a New York radio station on Nov. 20 that he was disturbed by the trend of hate crimes.

“We’ve had an uptick in hate crimes, actually a little bit more than an uptick. We’re up 31 percent from last year. We had at this time last year 250, this year we have 328, specifically against the Muslim population in New York City—we went up from 12 to 25, and anti-Semitic is up, too, by 9 percent from 102 to 111,” O’Neill said.

“I have no scientific evidence as to why, but you’ve been paying attention to what’s been going on in the country over the last year or so and the rhetoric has increased, and I think that might have something to do with it,” O’Neill added.

Final Reflections

America must heed the words of Lincoln in his Thanksgiving proclamation. Lincoln’s words must resonate throughout every generation of those privileged to call America home.

Lincoln’s call to “heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it” has lessons to be applied to a new virus infecting America.

Our new virus, propagated by hatred, demands a full force response of character in our families, educational institutions, government leaders, workplaces, houses of worship, communities, and law enforcement agencies.

Our nation is facing an entirely new virus from one that unleashed catastrophic devastation through the Civil War. This new virus wrecks a different type of havoc through hatred, animosity, and polarization.

These depravities divide us and are destructive to the principles of our Constitution, Bill of Rights, and every principle of moral decency.

The virus of hated is a grave danger that festers into threats, division, and violence.

America must immunize itself from the virus of hatred. This is only possible when character is our moral compass.

We will overcome hatred, and our nation will be reawakened, when character is the virtue that we cultivate, inspire, and animate.

Vincent J. Bove, CPP, is a national speaker and author on issues critical to America. Bove is a recipient f the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for combating crime and violence and is a former confidant of the New York Yankees. His newest book is “Listen To Their Cries.” For more information, see www.vincentbove.como

Vincent J. Bove

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