Reaction to JCC threats

By: Brian Nowak

This is from my friend Alyse Alteri-O’Brien: “Today the JCC where I work was added to the growing list of centers to be hit with bomb threats across the country and I am angry. I’m angry because not once in my three years at the J had I experienced any feelings of uneasiness to walk into the building until today. Tomorrow morning, because of these emboldened bigots, I’ll feel unsafe walking into work and I am not okay with that.”

Our country is violent – our last president was the first to preside over war every day he was in the White House. One of the causes of opposition to him was the color of his skin. In our country, Sikhs and Muslims have seen their places of worship shot up and burned to the ground. We allow homelessness, we allow people to work for starvation wages, we allow a healthcare system that puts the bottom line of investors before the lives of those dependent on care. Police officers are killing people without cause and being killed in retaliation for the unanswered actions of others. We have a two-tiered education system that values ideology over pragmatic solutions that work. Too many folks who grow our food do so at slave wages and without the legal rights to better their own condition. Physically violent or not, its all violence.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said yesterday that “Hatred and hate-motivated violence of any kind have no place in a country founded on the promise of individual freedom.” Clearly, the spokesman of the Trump administration, recognizes that not all violence is physical.

This is from Sean Spicer is a very rich statement coming from a man who is working for someone who spent over a year speaking violently and encouraging violent behavior – even sexual violence.

The Conservative Political Action Conference disinvited Milo Yiannopoulos from an upcoming event due to abhorrent comments he made about child sexual abuse and the child sexual abuse he suffered as a child. The comments were released Sunday. Yiannopoulous has since lost a book deal and six employees of Breitbart news are threatening to resign if he isn’t fired.

The real travesty in Milo’s situation isn’t his violent speech – it’s our cowardice and inability as a society to prioritize anti-violence as a goal of our behaviors and political actions. In addition to war, racism, and crippling poverty, we as a society have a hard time honestly address the child sexual abuse pandemic that has been around longer than the world’s oldest profession.

The Violence Against Women Act was passed in 1994 because our elected representatives viewed domestic violence as a public health and human rights concern. Recently, New York Magazine reported a Texas woman was arrested by ICE: “ Last week, an undocumented immigrant was arrested at the courthouse in El Paso, Texas, just after she was granted a protective order for domestic abuse. KVIA reported that the alleged abuser called U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to let them know his ex would be at the courthouse. “

After this woman was ready to escape the violence and abuse she was experiencing at home, she walked right into the hands of her next abuser – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. None of us think sexual violence against children is okay. None of us think violence against children is okay. Few of us sincerely wish violence on anyone.

So why is it that we continue to be a violent society?

Dr. martin Luther King had an answer: “…we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing‐oriented” society to a “person‐oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered… True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice, which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth… A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

The bomb threats are violent acts, they are also political acts – so they warrant a political response. None of us get to pretend to be apolitical when children in our community are afraid to go to daycare at the same time children in other communities are denied unquestioned access to a free meal at a school or our tax dollars are funding the killings of children in Syria or Iraq.

Think about what you can do to be less violent.



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