If you think that you are informed about what really happened in Sandy Hook, Conn., then read the following excerpt from an article published on an Iranian website:
“Last Friday, December 14, Adam Lanza, the notorious American murderer, murdered 27 [sic] at a school in Newtown, Connecticut, U.S., using a military machine gun. That day, and the next, this news item grabbed the headlines inside and outside America — and indeed, the emotional shock that it caused due to the murder of children in a cultural setting was great and angered all. But the point that was not reported by the media networks, which are controlled by Zionism in America, or by the media in our country [Iran], which is for the most part a consumer [of those networks] — is that Adam Lanza was a Jew, and grew up in a Jewish family and in a Jewish environment.” (Ali Haj Mohammed, “The Common Roots of the Palestine and Sandy Hook Crimes,” Dec. 19, quodsna.com. Translated at Inquiry & Analysis Series Report No. 913)
That is not all. According to Ali Haj Mohammedi, besides being a Jew (bolded in the original), “Lanza was mentally ill, suffering from Asperger’s; people with this disease hate the society around them (sic). It is interesting that according to some medical websites, this disease is common among Western Jews, that is, Ashkenazis, who are now fearlessly continuing their historic oppression of the Palestinians.”
In other anti-Semitic Iranian articles on the Connecticut shooting, one reads, “A Jewish murderer attacked co-religionists, slaughtering them. … No American media network had the guts to report this.”
Blaming Jews for the ills of society goes back a long way in history. If you look back, you’ll find the Black Plague, the killing of Jesus, and killing Christian children for blood to make Passover matzas. These are only a few of the lies, incitements and vilifications that have been disseminated and perpetuated throughout the world over the course of many centuries.
In the past, such slander was spread by word of mouth or in print throughout a limited geography and at limited speed. Today, with the click of a mouse, it is a simple matter to spread such stories worldwide on the Internet literally within seconds.
My generation witnessed the results of the Nazi hate campaign in the 1930s. I was in a small town in Belarus, and we heard the stories about how Jews were being libeled, slandered and persecuted in Germany. We could not fathom the consequences of the reports that we heard, that libeling of Jews could lead to forced labor camps, extermination camps and the mass gassing of millions of human beings.
Having experienced in my lifetime the consequences of hateful speech, I have a special sensitivity to its impact. Hitler’s campaign against the Jews resulted in a worldwide conflagration that affected all of humanity. I am inclined to take very seriously what is said in the media because I know firsthand that hateful speech leads to hateful acts, and that hateful acts lead to atrocities. We have already witnessed such incidents in Biafra, Darfur, Cambodia, Yugoslavia and many other places within recent history.
A few months ago, I became so alarmed that I said to myself, “What can I do about the proliferation of hate speech in the media?” Many people to whom I spoke of this said, “nothing.” But for me, doing nothing is not an option. And so, with the help of a friend, at age 93, I became a blogger. I have been using my blog at NotComplacent.wordpress.com as an opportunity to put a spotlight on and reflect upon speech in the media that incites hate and violence as well as articles and events that work to counter hateful speech.
I invite you to become aware of speech that incites violence. I hope that subscribing to my blog can be the first step in your journey to such awareness. And as you become aware, share that awareness with those in your circle of friends and family, with your neighbors and your government representatives. Speak out when you encounter hateful speech in daily life, comment publicly on it when you read it in online articles or in the major media, and ask others to do the same.
Just as hateful speech can be spread with the click of a mouse, so too can a posting on Facebook countering hateful speech be shared in an instant. And in the future, when your grandchildren ask you what you have done, you can say, “I was not complacent.”
(Moshe Baran is president of the Holocaust Survivors Association in Pittsburgh and a blogger at his anti-hate speech blog, notcomplacent.wordpress.com.)