Discrimination: Is it ever really over?

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By Jake Baum
@JakeatUMD
For the Mitzpeh

 

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On Sept. 8, 1956, at an Israel v. Italy World Cup game, a group of Italians performed the Nazi salute and booed while the Israeli National Anthem played.

Actually, that happened this year.

But it sounded believable, didn’t it? The fans were, of course, removed from the game, but the fact that no other legal action was taken against a group of people who supported views that were accompanied by the death of 11 million people not so long ago is very concerning.  

Unfortunately, anti-Semitism is a perpetual reality; it did not end with the Holocaust. As history rolls further past that terrifying time for European Jewry, it finds new, creative ways to expose the underlying feelings of those who have so quickly forgotten what happens when that kind of sentiment is allowed to flourish unchecked. Even a simple handshake (or refusal of one) can have such a large impact when the whole world is watching.

The Donald Trumps of the world choose to respond to these discriminatory sentiments with more of the same, constantly reaffirming his supporters’ “right” to be “deplorable” and actually reawaken these sentiments in people who previously had no legitimate political outlet for their thinly-veiled hatred of anyone who is different.However, I choose to take the higher path – one of not just tolerance, but celebration of our differences.

That’s the beauty of 2016, isn’t it? That’s the exact point of the Olympics, the World Cup, the European Union, NATO, the WTO, and so many other organizations and agreements of the sort – international cooperation and celebration of the ability to be different. The diversity of the human race has become so vast but, in modern times, our achievements in globalization have allowed us to see eye-to-eye on issues that once seemed so separate, to unify our individual struggles against discrimination of any kind.

The forces of globalization give us the insight of new cultures, new ideas, and new outlooks that we would never have found on our own. Immigration is not the enemy, nor is it a threat to our “way of life.” Instead, it is a friend that we can count on to help us increase our cultural intelligence, expand our values past the ones given to us by our parents and increasingly insular upbringings, and blend our values to form a truly “more perfect union.”

That is why anti-Semitism scares me the most. The trend in 2016 is toward global cooperation, toward the breaking down of ingroup bias, and toward recognizing the intersectionality of our struggles and our ability to fight for each other. Anti-Semitism means having to actively fight these progressive forces. It takes a lot of work, so those who have adopted these divisive beliefs have been fighting hard on the fringe of right-wing xenophobic political forces to hold back this progress, such as the alt-right movement and its weaponization of Twitter.

Globalization goes both ways – it encourages cooperation between both people of different sociocultural backgrounds and those of the same who wish to stop this blending and exterminate those who do not represent their ideology. That is why we must continue to remember the Civil Rights Movement, Apartheid, and, most notably, the Holocaust, to keep in mind what happens when these alt-right beliefs prevail, and to ensure that they never happen again.

Jake is a junior international business major. He can be reached at jakebaum1@gmail.com.

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