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How do we respond when hateful language is on the rise?

Ron Malzer

Malzer

Last month, the La Crosse area came within a few hours of hosting one stop of a scheduled five-city anti-Muslim hate tour. This is not an isolated incident.

My perspective is deeply personal. In 1933, my Jewish mother and her family, their lives in danger, fled from Nazi Germany. My Jewish father and his family came to America carrying the life-long trauma of living five years under Hitler, then fleeing for their lives. My heritage makes it my duty to speak out when hatred is festering.

Holocaust scholar Christopher Browning warns us: America today is not Germany of the 1930s, but there are many similarities and parallels.

Words can be used as weapons. University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Professor Gregory Wegner highlights the Nazis’ use of “language of mindless fanaticism [that would] … disallow any possibility of critical thought.” When those in power demonstrate mindless fanaticism, we are all in danger.

In August 2016, Michael Flynn, then a key adviser to the Trump campaign, gave a lengthy speech in Stoughton, Massachusetts. It was a hate-filled diatribe, denouncing “Islamism” as a “vicious cancer inside the body of 1.7 billion people” needing to be “excised.” Less than six months later, President Trump put Flynn in the West Wing of the White House as his national security adviser.

Hateful speech is not, in itself, violence, but it does stoke the violence-prone. We all recall how and why Heather Heyer was crushed to death in Charlottesville.

Hate in the form of white nationalism is on the rise nationally. Our Muslim, Mexican-American, and African-American communities are under vicious verbal attack, with national policies being enacted stemming from this hatred.

Racial hatred and dehumanization have an ugly history in America. When those in power act on their racism and hatred, horrific results follow. America has written and enforced laws locking in slavery, racial segregation, and removal/cultural elimination programs directed at Native Americans. Our Dreamers now live in fear of deportation.

Three months ago, the Southern Poverty Law Center, founded in 1971 to fight racial hate nationally, published its 2017 annual report online. It begins by denouncing the encouragement given to white supremacists by the president: “Trump thrilled and comforted them with his apparent kinship and pugilistic style, his refusal to condemn hate crimes committed in his name, and his outrageous statements equating neo-Nazis and anti-racist activists after the deadly violence in Charlottesville.”

The basis of us-versus-them thinking may be innate. In our first year of life, it’s normal to display stranger anxiety. Our infant brain alarm system fires up reflexively: different equals dangerous. Seeing a face that’s not a known caregiver, we cry out in distress, or withdraw, looking for safety.

This primitive reflex is kindling; the danger of violent wildfire is always present. Society must educate us all against fanning the flames. We have to consciously work at understanding that people who look different may actually be a lot like us, and those whose culture is different very likely have something of value to teach us.

Two worthy local examples deserve strong praise. The La Crosse School District provides its teachers with equity-focused staff development, challenging educators to appropriately value, not underestimate, minority students.

And our community owes deep appreciation to Holocaust educator Darryle Clott. She has spent two decades raising the vital voices of Holocaust survivors, at Viterbo University’s community lecture series, and other forums. These survivors bring living testimony to the atrocities we can commit when we fail to challenge hatred.

January a year ago, I decided to join the just-forming La Crosse Chapter of SURJ: Showing Up for Racial Justice. It’s part of a national organization that stands ready to act long-term against ongoing “systemic” racism, as well as responding to hate speech and hate incidents.

With less than 24 hours’ notice ahead of the Onalaska-scheduled anti-Muslim hate rally, SURJ and its community partner La Crosse Interfaith Shoulder-to-Shoulder Network went into high gear, speaking to the media, and organizing a rally demonstrating that a hate group does not speak for the La Crosse community.

When hate messages are increasing, we have a choice to make: we can be bystanders, or we can raise our voices. If too many of us choose to be bystanders, the flames of hatred burn out of control. Let’s choose instead to raise our voices.

Ron Malzer, a retired psychologist, is on the Leadership Team of La Crosse chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice.

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(54) comments

Redwall

Mr. Malzer's "flames of hate" (oh my!) are self inflicted.

To call the President that just handed the Jewish State their rightful capital a "nazi" is really over the top. Such language serves no-one. Seventy years after the creation of the nation of Israel, a U.S. President has finally had the guts to deliver what Bush and Obama only promised.

Disagree with Trump on policy if you like; the name calling a la Fibune, is pathetic.

kingman10

come on redwall, answer the real questions. Why was that embassy move such a great decision? What did it accomplish? Or are you like mocha1 and the rest and just chicken poo to answer.

kingman10

for those who need a reminder. How close have we come to these 12 signs of fascism.
powerful and continued nationalism
disdain for human rights
supremacy of the Military
Rampant sexism
Controlled mass media
Obsession with national security
Identifying enemies as a unifying cause
religion and government intertwined
corporate power protected
labor rights supressed
disdain for intellectuals and the arts
obsession with crime and punishment
Rampant cronyism and corruption.
There you have it, how far have we come. Way too close for my liking.

Redwall

Thank you for presenting a suitable description of today's Progressive/fascist agenda.

From liberals, spanning Harvey Weinstein to Storzk to Schneiderman to Zuckerberg, and Waters, et al., all willing to undermine human rights, civil decency, and honor. All while satiating themselves only with their selfish pursuit of money and political control. Putting their political agenda ahead of citizens. After all, it was their ilk, and their brethren in the Republican party that enabled Trump to get elected.

As for Mr Malzer, read my post below where I handily discarded his tripe.

oldhomey

Gosh, Redwall has really nailed us liberals, exposing our venality and lust for wealth, while upholding the good man in the White House. Had I known we were such obvious hypocrites, I would have turned in my liberal credentials long ago and admitted openly that I am a racist, sexist, money-grubber who is willing to exploit anyone -- especially the poor and elderly -- to get what I want. We all should thank Allah that there are humanitarians in the world like Redwall.

kingman10

as I see it, 10 of the twelve early signs of fascism are a big part of the hard right wing tea party platform. There is no denying that. Rampant sexism can be attributed to all parties. The people mentioned by redwall are not necessarily progressive, he is just assuming they are. What human rights are you talking about when saying they are undermining them? Care to elaborate? Or are you just spewing off nonsense without thinking first.

Redwall

This is an incredulously mis-informed, mis-lead, behind the times and overall faulty composition. Why, this guy must rely on the Fibune for his news.

Lets see...

Unemployment among african-americans at an all time low.
Trump offers to triple the DACA quota, and the Dems turn him down.
Trump (often described as a Nazi by ignorant Dems) becomes the first president with the guts to acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel while moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv.
Trump advances the ball with North Korea, bringing them to the table while setting it in advance with numerous wins...release of prisoners, dismantling of nuclear test site, and more.
Trumps polls reflect improving realization by the American public that this guy is acting in their best interest.
Trump accomplishes more in one year than Obama did in eight (lets face it, Obamacare was really Pelosicare).

Trump is winning all over the place, and the fibune can only trot out the "racist" card.

How pathetic and sad.

kingman10

hey Redwall, remember when Obama got 11 prisoners released from NK and you right wing nuts held a big celebration. Yea me neither. After the 11 were released, not a peep from you tea baggers. Remember when Obama first got elected and you tea baggers called him Hitler? And answer me this REdwall or any other right wingers, so now we are moving our embassy to Jerusalem, what does that accomplish? What good does that really do? Does it bring a little more peace and prosperity to that part of the world? Does it advance the peace process? How is the world better off with that move? So far more than 50 protesters have been killed and over a thousand wounded, So tell me again why this is such a great move by Trump and why you admire him for it?

kingman10

come on redwall! All you right wingers, answer the questions put before you in my 5:05 post! What's the matter? can't think of a good answer? Since when does that ever stop you!

oldhomey

Mr. Malzer may be local to La Crosse, but he is one of the finest and most profound writers consistently to appear in the Tribune. This column is certainly evidence of that. I would simply take note of those who write in to disagree with him and wonder what message they want to deliver that could begin to reduce the hatred and sting of constant polarization we live with today.

Redwall

News flash...the Nazi (as you call him) just today helped the Jewish State of Israel gain their rightful capital of Jerusalem. Both Bush and Obama had promised the same and didnt have the guts to do what Trump did today.

oldhomey

Redwall, in principle a nation should have its capital in the city of its choice, but when it is a new nation carved out of territories of a former nation that has set an entire region of the world alight with hatred and warfare, you don't stomp through and do as you please. You work with diplomatic delicacy until a political atmosphere is created that makes such a move possible. I prefer a national leader who works within those bounds, rather than an ignoramus who does whatever he thinks will please his base to protect his vulnerable political flanks, the consequences be damned. Pathetic and sad, indeed.

PhysicsIsFun

"Instead, President Donald Trump chose to give a huge political gift to the Israelis while giving nothing to the Palestinians. He put his own campaign promises and political needs above the political needs of the parties themselves—precisely the opposite behavior of a credible mediator. It is no surprise that the Palestinians reacted to this announcement by cutting off ties with the Trump administration and have refused to meet at senior levels for the past five months. " https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/05/u-s-embassy-opens-in-jerusalem-the-end-of-americas-dominance-in-the-mideast-peace-process.html

kingman10

hey redwall how about a response to my 5:05 post. You want to praise you dear leader, tell us why.

kingman10

come on redwall, answer my 5:05 post if you dare!

Cassandra2

And did you note, Redwall, that he had a vicious anti-Semite lead the "prayer" at the dedication. Pure kkklass!

Buggs Raplin

Ron Malzer is well known for his columns on the global warming hoax. He and Hatt, and Sleznikow are regularly afforded columns on the hoax, as well as others. It's all part of Rusty Cunningham's liberal agenda. The liberals today really have no issues, so they create one in 'hate' as if it can be eradicated. It can't. It's as old as sin. And just as endemic. But it is a chimera, a liberal chimera with about as much substance as the belief that humans can affect the climate. But people like Ron Malzer and Rusty Cunningham have their agendas; the former as part of a gullible citizenship; the latter as head of the local propaganda effort for the Deep State, which desires open borders, a carbon tax, and infringements on the Constitution of the United States. So sad to see the liberals being played for fools by the Deep State. I used to be a liberal, but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now.

oldhomey

Buggs, this new-found youthfulness that you find yourself in appears to be one of the most severe cases of sophomoric thinking that I have ever encountered. You read what you want to believe and, without checking your facts, you proclaim to the world you know what is what and how the rest of us are pathetically, stupidly wrong. Apparently getting older isn't going to help you, but since you seem to be on a regressive course, perhaps the rest of us can look forward to the day that you reach an even earlier childhood stage in which you will be respectful of people who are wiser than you so that you can follow their lead on issues and behavior. It will, however, require you to give up your martinis and doobies, and to replace your handguns with Roy Rogers cap guns.

PhysicsIsFun

When you use terms such as "Deep State" you reveal the idiotic source of your confusion.

Buggs Raplin

And you're sadly deceived.

kingman10

buggs you got the conspiracies all wrong. All the wars from the civil war to vietnam and many others are all a conspiracy of the Vatican. Yes you can look it up on you tube. There are tons of videos about " Jesuit conspiracies". You can spend hours upon hours soaking up all the conspiracies you can handle from the death of JFK to the Iraq war and much more. Why its a cornucopia of all the conspiracies one lunatic mind can ever see. that should take you days to watch all those videos, so we don't expect you to post anything here for at least a week. Have Fun, and you're welcome!

Cassandra2

Chippy is clearly off his meds again. Too bad his family doesn't care enough about him to get him the mental health care he so clearly needs.

Buggs Raplin

The biggest 'hater' on these boards is Cassandra2, who spews her venom and personal attacks behind the Tribune's screen of anonymity. She is a hate-mongering coward, totally afraid to reveal her identity while attacks those who have revealed theirs; she's a confirmed liar about having a solar-powered home. Disagree with her, and you're a racist. If anyone...I mean..anyone is more representative of the bullsh*t being tossed on political dialogue, it is Cassie. If Cassie agrees with a fact, it's a fact. If Cassie disagrees with a fact, it isn't a fact. Welcome to Cassieworld, a liberal haven for idiots.-Chip DeNure aka Buggs Raplin

oldhomey

Ahem. Buggs. Please. Scroll back on your comments about Cassandra in the last two weeks, and you will find that you described Cassandra in the vilest terms you could summon. Cassandra's launguage can get pretty vituperative, too. If both of you cut back on your harshest language, perhaps you might here the other person talk. I am not without sin here, myself.

oldhomey

I have been reading new2 too long and am beginning to write like him. I meant to say that I think that Cassandra can be overly vituperative in language at times to, and if both of you both cut back on your harshest language, you might hear the other person talk. And I certainly do include myself as being one who could learn from this, too, as similar stones can be cast at me.

Cassandra2

"...confirmed liar about having a solar-powered home." Please prove otherwise, Chippy. I'm really curious about your deep and unassailable knowledge about my solar power system. Please provide your evidence. What a pathetic loser.

Cassandra2

I see all the regular Nazi sympathizers have showed up to spread their message of hate. Not surprising. I'm just waiting for the day when the Hoaxer actually publicly admits who they are so the entire community can show their disgust.

Redwall

Trump is very proud of his achievements, and especially of the record low unemployment rate including among blacks. Of course, Mr Malzer sees racism in that, as he must when looking everywhere.

I am sure he has heard of the term "confirmation bias".

crank

"When hate messages are increasing, we have a choice to make: we can be bystanders, or we can raise our voices. If too many of us choose to be bystanders, the flames of hatred burn out of control."

Another approach would be to quietly ignore the tantrum of the misguided views of an extreme group rather than an equally extreme group throwing a tantrum in opposition. The counter-protests by Malzer's group, in my opinion, do more to cause 'the flames of hatred to burn out of control' than anything.

What is 6 people showed up at the Islamic hate protest and nobody noticed or paid attention? My guess is the protest and their movement fizzles.

What if 6 of these knuckleheads show up and an equal number of people show up to counter-protest? My guess is Malzer's group will have just given these idiots a purpose and the flames of hatred on both sides rise.

Redwall

You are exactly correct. This article is about a week's old meeting that never happened.

Fanning the flames of hate are what the Left is all about these days. This and similar articles, sponsored by the Tribune, are simply part of the "resist" effort aimed at Trump and Walker, depending on the week, to try to keep the local Left base ginned up.

Sad and pathetic.

oldhomey

Sorry, crank, you are exactly incorrect. When you hear and see people calling for violence upon other people simply because of their skin color, religious beliefs or ethnicity, there should be no room in the world for that. Every good and decent person should stand up and say firmly: No. How else do you think these evils get passed on generationally?

kingman10

how can nobody notice a hate protest if its held in a public square? Of course they will get noticed, that is the whole point of doing it, to draw attention to themselves. And in this area it is certain that many more hate mongers will likely join them, so the movement grows and grows. To quietly ignore hatred and evil in your midst is one way of condoning it.

Snow Cougar Mary Burke

Ron, it is not about hatred, it’s not about racism - it’s all about self-preservation in the great melting pot that is the American republic.

Anyone who says democracy and political Islam can peacefully coexist is ill-informed. Muslims simply do not care to understand democracy. Ultimately they only care about Sharia law, which in their religion is GOD’s law, but once it is implemented in any fashion it becomes man’s law that YOU must submit to. Those that follow Islam do not believe in “the separation of mosque and state”. Wherever there is an Islamic majority, there is Dictatorship, which promotes militancy and terrorism in the name of Islam, Allah, Mohamed and Koran.

Ron, did you know that ‘The Council on American-Islamic Relations’, the Islamic Center of America refuses to engage any organization that promotes the idea of liberty and the separation on mosque and state?

Ron, did you know that ‘The Organization of the Islamic Conference Countries’ refuses to endorse the humanitarian principles embodied in the UN declaration and the Cairo declaration of human rights?

Islamists know that there is one country – the USA has the will to stand up and stop Islam from conquering the World for Allah, so they have concentrated their efforts against the USA. The progressive useful idiots hate our founding fathers - their Constitution and its Bill of Rights based upon Judeo-Christian principles, and are embracing these radical Islamist to help destroy Christianity and bring about a change in our government by ridding us of that “obsolete Constitution and Bill of Rights”, to bring birth to a new government based upon your liberal utopian ideals. The only problem Ron is the Koran orders them to “Fight the Infidels wherever they are”, especially a city like La Crosse Wisconsin that openly “embraces diversity”. They wear the banner of Islam and have no desire to coexist, especially with you.

Shalom

Cassandra2

Cougar the fake news Russian bot is back from re-programming.

Buggs Raplin

When it comes to 'hate', the liberal mantra has exceptions:
*It's OK to hate Donald Trump
*It's OK to hate climate change deniers
*It's OK to hate Confederate statues and the Confederate flag
*It's OK to hate the fossil fuels that save their lives and make life comfortable
*It's OK to hate the right-to-life movement
*It's OK to hate those wanting the wall
*It's OK to hate Alex Jones
*It's OK to hate speech they find politically incorrect
*It's OK to hate the NRA

oldhomey

As an unreconstructed 1960s traditional liberal, I would answer Bugg's smug list here with the following mantra:

*It's okay to speak up when the president of the United States lies and leads the nation down wrong pathways on the strength of his misinformation and ignorance.
*It's okay to call to the attention of all Americans that there is something weirdly wrong with conferring honor on a movement that tried to break apart the United States in order to preserve slavery.
*It is not okay to infer that people who are concerned about human-caused global warming "hate" fossil fuels. They simply want to reduce and eliminate the use of fossil fuels for energy production with use of renewable energy supplies that will not exacerbate global warming.
*It is not okay to hate the right-to-life movement, as everybody has the right to treat that issue according to their own, personal beliefs so long as they do not try to impose their beliefs on others. Women have the right to decide for themselves. Period.
*Nobody should hate anybody for their political beliefs, but they should stand up and be counted when one faction's political beliefs (i.e. building a $30 billion wall that will not by anybody's estimation stop the flow of illegal immigration) are being forced upon the nation. I don't want my tax dollars to be wasted on such a white elephant. In fact I hate the idea of tax dollars being wasted on what is essentially a cheap political campaign talking point that will become very expensive and ethically offensive.
*It certainly is okay to despise the incredibly dishonest manufacture and dissemination of the sort of hate-filled political propaganda generated by Alex Jones. I despise the man and hate his message.
*It is okay to hate hate speech, and it is entirely legitimate to argue against the issue of political incorrectness.
*It is okay to take strong issue with the tactics of the NRA, a marketing arm of the arms industry, and to hate seeing how so many people are vulnerable to its hateful messages.

Climatehoax

When do I get my column, you fool?

Half of white millennials say discrimination against whites is as big a problem as discrimination against people of color

55% of White People Think America Discriminates Against Them

ording to NPR, the responses from white people could be broken down into three categories:

those who believe there is anti-white discrimination and say they have personally experienced it
those who say there is anti-white discrimination but say they have not experienced it firsthand
those who say there is no discrimination against whites in America

oldhomey

Climate makes the perfect comment to prove Mr. Malzer's prescient column.

Buggs Raplin

With Islam, you have a religion where women are inferior to men, and gays are in peril for their lives. Just google the controversial statements in the Quran for an understanding of this religion. Europe is now paying the price for Muslim immigration with stabbings and rapes. Just today we hear of an apparent Muslim suicide attack in Indonesia killing 11 people and injuring 41. The misguided liberal approach by people like Ron Malzer is simply to embrace Islam and condemn those who are critical of this religion as 'haters.' It's a stupid approach, but typical.

kingman10

thank buggs for your "stupid" approach to a religion you know very little about, but claim to be an expert on. Googling controversial statement in the Quran does not make you an expert or qualified to draw conclusions. The misguided right wing approach by people like buggs manure is to condemn Islam because of the actions of a few extremists. Its a "stupid approach but typical of right wing nuts, info war gullible imbeciles. Its very typical for those types to embrace hate as their first response to something they don't understand and never will. Thanks buggs for providing a prime example of ignorance and hate that the columnists was writing about. Fanning the flames of hate seems to be your forte. Now let's all hold our breath as hoaxer chimes in with more of the same.

Buggs Raplin

Careful kingman. Incoherent babbler johnnybraggati got deleted yesterday after teeing off on me.

Climatehoax

The most unintelligent animals on earth have one natural drive that liberals lack, protection of their own offspring. That includes abortions at eight months of gestation, and not being wary of Islam

Cassandra2

Are the "animals" you refer to the same ones that Trump was talking about?

crank

"Fanning the flames of hate seems to be your forte"

You and Malzer seem quite good at fanning the flames of hatred as well.

It's interesting that you would expect everyone to look past and excuse the actions of a 'few' Islamic extremists. Yet, you and Malzer eagerly condemn anyone with a political point of view which is different from your own by characterizing them as "right wing nuts" , "imbeciles", "ignorant" and racist haters.

I don't suppose you consider such language and rhetoric as something which fans the flames of hatred, do you? No! Of course you wouldn't! [rolleyes]

Climatehoax

We saw CLEAR evidence that the hate in our country is on the left at Trump rallies during the campaign and the constant bashing from the liberal left wing progressive media. That half of the country has and shows many times over and over how hateful they are

kingman10

Crank and buggsy, why don't you google "controversial statements in the bible" and see how crazy those Christians are. Do the same with the Torah, its just crazy! That has been the argument of you right wing haters toward Muslims, crazy as that is. And you call me a hater. I don't condemn anyone with a different political view, I will strongly disagree with them but its not my job to condemn them. When I see hate toward another person simply because of their skin color, religion, ethnicity etc. I will speak up loudly and clearly. That is the definition of racism, and racism and bigotry stem from ignorance, pure and simple. To condemn over a billion people because of their religion is what you right wing haters are doing, not me. And you attack me for standing up against that. How far backwards we have come in this society. Malzer and I eagerly condemn evil, where ever it exists, and most of the time it exists in the hearts and minds of those who want to do harm based on their ignorance. I and Melzer are promoting tolerance and acceptance. How is that fanning the flames of hate? That is the very opposite. You can take any religion and cherry pick certain phrases that by themselves are troubling and controversial. But what good does that do? If you don't understand a religion or care to learn the real truth about it, then it is best to keep your mouth shut instead of fanning the flames of hate. You and buggs should take note of that.

kingman10

I guess crank and buggs have had enough. When confronted with the naked truth they can no longer spew their gibberish. Keep hiding boys.

kingman10

I guess crank and redwall and the rest of the right wing nuts are just chicken sh*it when confronted with the truth. challenge them and they cower into a corner until the come up with some garbage that makes no sense. Can't respond to my 5:05 or 8:02 posts. Cowards all of you!

Cassandra2

"...at Trump rallies during the campaign ..." Hoaxer, are you talking about the rallies where Trump called for his supporters to beat up anyone they disagree with and to turn their anger on the media? The rallies where he (lied) promised to pay the legal bills for anyone arrested for committing violence against their political opponents?

Snow Cougar Mary Burke

pot....meet kettle.

Cassandra2

Cougar, welcome back from your re-programming at the Russian bot farm!

kingman10

great column! The hate mongers are embolden by the Trump presidency who encourages such hate speech and bigotry. I've been saying all along how close we are to fascism in this country. White nationalism is the bedrock of these hate monger activities and it seems to be expanding. We can either speak up when we are confronted with such ignorance, or be silent. Unfortunately another option is that many are joining the chorus of haters and bigots. Just look at these posts here, a perfect example of ignorance from those who have no clue and think racism and hate is normal and good.

oldhomey

When you go to the extreme far right, as you do, Snow, or go to the extreme far left, you meet up in a situation of a strong-arm dictatorship that demands total control of everybody and everything, which, I guess, is what serves both fascism and communism.
I won't "click" any of your proffered websites, as I know you get paid by the Koch boys for number of hits you generate.

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