Hard to argue with that. Of course, we should be against harassment and intimidation. The Hawaii Civil Rights Commission on Tuesday announced that Chair Linda Hamilton Krieger called on the people of Hawaii to stand against the reported rise in the incidence of discriminatory harassment and intimidation.
That sounds like something we ought to support.
One question: Is there a rise in incidences of discriminatory harassment and intimidation? Is it happening more than we’re aware of, or is this something that’s being sensationalized and publicized more these days?
“In these trying times, minorities face attacks not seen since post-9/11 attacks on Muslims and Arab Americans,” added HCRC Executive Director William Hoshijo.
The HCRC doesn’t actually offer any hard statistics to support this claim. Its press release just refers to “national reports of a spike in anti-immigrant, anti-black, anti-LGBT, anti-Muslim, and anti-woman harassment in the wake of the presidential election raise serious concerns.
“It is offensive that proponents of a ‘Muslim registration’ system cite the World War II internment of Japanese Americans as precedent to justify government targeting of an unpopular minority, in this case based on religion rather than race or ancestry,” said HCRC Commissioner Liann Ebesugawa. “Our Constitution guarantees equal protection of the laws to all. Never again should we make exceptions on the basis of race, national origin, or religion.”
Seems like HCRC could have tracked down some real facts and figures to show that racism is rising since the election before sending out a press release.
Let’s be clear. We agree there is a problem with racism, bigotry, discrimination and prejudice in American. But it was here long before the recent presidential election. America has long been home to a lot of ignorant fools with narrow minds and narrow points of views. And sadly, such people will be with us pretty much as long as there are people on Earth. These folks didn’t just suddenly come running the day Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. They’ve been here and don’t plan to leave. Let’s not act like the U.S. hasn’t long been home to those who are intolerant of those who don’t share their same opinions.
Here’s where you can help and here’s where we agree with Hoshijo when he says, “Those who share a commitment to civil rights must stand up for those who cannot stand alone.”
We agree we must be willing to get involved and stand strong against those who would harass others. If you see it, do what you can do to stop it. Sometimes, all it takes is one person willing to say hey, “Knock it off.”
The key is, as Krieger says, respect. If we could all just show respect, whether we agree with someone or not, imagine how that could change things for the better. But, sadly, respect is one of those characteristics that far too many people, including those who should be better, somehow believe doesn’t apply to them, that it’s OK to be rude. Or they just don’t know what treating others with respect really means.
“In our diversity, we must continue to embrace the value of human dignity expressed in the Native Hawaiian saying, “aloha aku, aloha mai” — to respect and to receive respect,” Krieger said.
“When things get tough, we must resist the temptation to turn on the most vulnerable among us and instead live the value, “malama kekahi i kekahi” — to care for one another.”
So, stop harassment and intimidation? Absolutely. But let’s recognize that too many people in our country, in this world, have been doing that for thousands of years. Too many believe they are better than others.
Perhaps the words of our friend Dr. Seuss would help: “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”