BYSTANDERS TO HATE

Einstein said,”The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” I’ve watched a few clips of what goes on frequently at Trump rallies.  In Janesville, Wisconsin a teenager was called a “bitch and a n****r lover.” In Tucson, Arizona a man hit and kicked a protester. In Cleveland, a man shouted at a black person,”Go back to Africa.” Also in Cleveland a Nazi supporter yelled, “Go to Auschwitz.”

What’s as alarming as the actual displays of verbal or physical violence is the presence of on-lookers who do nothing. In one video, people are checking their cell phones, giggling or talking amongst themselves, seemingly unconcerned that unbridled racism and hatred are being played out right in front of them. This is how societies unravel — not by the actions of aggressors but by the silent crowds who watch and don’t care.

On March 13, 1964, in the dead of night, a 28 year old woman named Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death in Kew Gardens, a supposedly safe neighborhood in Queens. 38 people heard her screams and did nothing. A few opened their windows and turned on their lights, scaring off the attacker. But no one called the police, and no one came to help as she screamed, “He stabbed me! Please help me!” The night turned quiet again as Kitty Genovese tried to make her way around the side of the building. Her attacker returned and stabbed her again. Again she screamed. Lights blinked on a second time, and the attacker left, this time driving off in his car. But he came back, found her slumped at the foot of the stairs and stabbed her a third time, this time fatally.

Only then did a neighbor call the police. They were there in 2 minutes. When asked why he didn’t call before, when she could have been saved, he said, “I didn’t want to get involved.” Other neighbors, who only emerged after her body was taken away, said they were afraid to call the police, but none could identify exactly what they were afraid of — safe in their own apartments, behind locked doors, a few feet from the phone that could have saved a woman’s life. One man said he was tired and had gone back to bed.

I was 12 years old when this happened. My parents told me the story, sparing no detail. They wanted me to understand that this is not how human beings should behave. You don’t turn away from violence toward others; you don’t shut your window, or your eyes, or your heart when another person is being hurt. The story lodged in my soul. I don’t understand bystanders who do nothing when a person is being attacked, and I don’t want to understand them.

But it would be a good idea for all of us to understand how dangerous this pattern is. No one has yet been mortally wounded at a Trump rally — ‘yet’ being the operative word —  but there is no indication that anything would be different if things escalated to that degree. Would anyone help or intervene? It seems doubtful.

I am sickened by the stories of what’s going on at rallies for a man who wants to be President of the United States. I’m sickened that in Las Vegas a black man was taunted with chants of  “Sieg Heil” followed by “Light the mother-fucker on fire.” I’m sickened that a black woman in Birmingham, Alabama was beaten and choked at a Trump rally, and that a black man in North Carolina was punched in the face. But the fact that thousands of people watched these things happen without doing anything scares the hell out of me.

 

8 Responses to BYSTANDERS TO HATE

  1. Rodney Wilson says:

    Thank you for speaking out on this important issue and for raising awareness. Donald Trump is frightening.

    • Keith Spain says:

      It’s not Donald Trump I find frightening….it is a few of the people who support him who think Trump is going to be the dictator they have always dreamed of. Trump isn’t that guy and they’re in for a huge disappointment. He is an arrogant and boastful fool, but not the new leader of the nazi-like few.

  2. Elizabeth Saenz says:

    THANK YOU. We talk about how much one individual’s vote counts. I believe that it is possible for one individual, by refusing to accept bad behavior and by calling it what it is and standing up to it, can inspire, or perhaps just shame, others to do the same. Let us name hate for what it is and refuse to be silent in its presence.

  3. David Marks says:

    Your parents were right, Patti, and human nature hasn’t evolved much. The psychology of the Kitty Genovese bystander syndrome, remains much the same today, yet their silence required no pulse of incitement, no inspiration; just the complacency of human nature. Trump plays to that very cowardice inherent in us all, as if self preservation depends on cloaking ourselves behind its veil. It is the purest evil there is, because it is the cruelness of the mob mentality, where fears are validated, and violence is the only result.
    As always, Patti, I love the way you write!

  4. David Deutsch says:

    You articulate with pointed insight and observation what first appeared to be an aberrant political sideshow and has unraveled into a larger, predictable and alarming phenomenon. Your parents gave you great advice. About the same time, my father gave me the same advice when he stood up for a young black couple who were refused admission to a movie theater in my Missouri hometown. My father Jules came of age in Germany as Hitler began attracting his rowdy, hateful crowds. Dad told me that no one took Hitler seriously at the time because he seemed such an absurd buffoon – much like Trump appears to many people today. So we must take Trump and these incidents of hatred seriously. We can’t stand by silently and ignore this dangerous rhetoric and the hate and violence it elicits.

  5. Kathlean Gahagan says:

    Chills..reminds me of Nazi Part hate mongering. Am I correct in that the village idiot has no voting record?

  6. SteveC says:

    I came here looking for your letter to the Obama daughters and browsed further. You have acquired a new fan, and I’m a liberal Democrat. Affiliations aside, the truth is the truth – please continue to speak out and speak up.

  7. Philip Cochran says:

    Patti, Trump scares the hell out of me. I’m a Reagan Republican and havent been satisfied qirh the Republican party since tour Dad left office. Your Dad was a good, decent, honest, man who loved his country and its people. I dont think we will ever again have a Preaidwnt who loved America and Americans like President Reagan.
    Hope your soing well and that your finsing peace and comfort since your mother’s death. I know it muat be haed to have loat your last parent.

    Philip Cochran
    Atlanta, GA

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