We have witnessed the rise of hate throughout the nation that has led to violence and acts of inhumanity.

Editorial is the opinion of Morgan Hill Life

Congregation Emeth in Morgan Hill was vandalized by two swastikas painted on basement door.
Photo courtesy Congregation Emeth.

Sometime late Jan. 15 or early in the morning Jan. 16 some individual or individuals painted two swastikas on the basement door of the Congregation Emeth Jewish temple in Morgan Hill. The graffiti was reported to the police Jan. 16.

The police are investigating this act of vandalism as a hate crime. The swastika is a symbol of antisemitism for its historic connection to Nazi Germany and the murder of as many as 17 million people, including six million Jews, in the Holocaust in Europe during World War II.

The swastika symbol painted on a Jewish place of faith for South Valley residents by the unknown vandal(s) must serve as an alarm for all of us that hate does indeed exist in our corner of the county. That’s a danger.

In the past several years, we have witnessed the rise of hate throughout the nation that has led to violence and acts of inhumanity. The FBI tracks this trend and reports in 2019 it received 7,314 events for hate crimes across America. In 2013, 5,479 hate crimes were reported to federal authorities. These criminal offenses are motivated in whole or in part by the offender’s bias against people of a certain race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.

The world last week welcomed a new American President ready to repair a broken nation. Joe Biden has hard work ahead to heal a nation deeply divided by the polarization of our politics. At the end of his inaugural ceremony, a 22-year-old Black poet named Amanda Gorman shared her thoughts in verse in a poem titled: “The Hill We Climb.”

“We are striving to forge our union with purpose.

To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters, and conditions of man.

And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.

We close the divide because we know, to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.

We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.

We seek harm to none and harmony for all.”

The hateful acts of vandalism or bullying insults on social media are the seeds that can grow into weeds of dangerous actions. We as a South Valley region felt the community pain of a disturbed mind filled with hatred at the Gilroy Garlic Festival mass shooting in July 2019 when a Gilroy resident brought an assault-style rifle onto the grounds and used it to indiscriminately shoot at visitors and vendors, killing three people and wounding many others. The FBI treated the gunman’s action as an act of domestic terrorism in their investigation. It found in his digital media a list of targets that included religious organizations and government buildings, such as courthouses.

We have seen the recent rise of hatred among many of our fellow American citizens. We witnessed on news media the horror of a rally of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 11 and 12, 2017. Protesters included neo-Confederates, neo-fascists, white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and Klansmen who joined in marches and chanted racist and antisemitic slogans. Many carried weapons and displayed Nazi and neo-Nazi symbols.

In Washington, D.C., Jan. 6, most Americans were horrified to see on the news media the storming of the U.S. Capitol Building by a mob of men and women who falsely believed the 2020 election of Joe Biden as president was fraudulent. They threatened to take the lives of many members of Congress and Vice-President Mike Pence. Many of them wore attire with hate messages and symbols on them. One male rioter wore a sweatshirt with a skull and bones image over which were two words: “CAMP AUSCHWITZ.”  A Proud Boy wore a shirt with the initialism “6MWE” combined with a fascist symbol. The initials stand for “Six Million Wasn’t Enough.”

We must learn from history that the cancer of hate if left to grow throughout our society will soon destroy America. We must also learn from history that the cure to that cancer is for the people of a society to stand up in the light and do what is right — defend humanity.

Jan. 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. That date was chosen because it was the day in 1945 when Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration and death camp, was liberated by the Soviet Union’s Red Army.

Let us make sure the deaths of 17 million men, women and children murdered by those who felt hatred toward them during those dark days of the 20th century serve to prevent a similar or worse atrocity in the 21st century. Let us learn the lesson of the insidious evil of that time and take wise actions to make sure that the light of love drives out the darkness of hate. The survival of democracy depends on all of us following the path of agape.

Robert Airoldi