Are We Creating a Generation of Haters?

group of children's silhouettes
group of children's silhouettes

Two nights ago while watching the news on TV I was struck by a scene in which a little girl, no more than 10 years old, was carrying a sign at a Trump rally that read "Keep em out Keep me safe." I was horrified and wondered if, as a child, she can truly comprehend what that sign means.

As a child advocate, I am becoming increasingly concerned that with all of the recent rhetoric about Muslims - especially the hateful statements by those like Donald Trump who have the bully pulpit - there is little or no conversation about its impact on our children. And before he targeted Muslims, Mr. Trump broadly diminished and vilified Hispanics by hate mongering against them, and threatening to send 11 million people out of the country.

Children are so easily influenced by what they see and hear adults do and say, that it is frightening to me to consider the longer term impact all of the hate mongering that has recently been going on in the United States.

If we think this kind of activity is harmless, we are mistaken. We have the potential to breed a whole generation of haters whose actions later in life could become dangerous.

Here in the USA we learned a harsh lesson by the way we treated black people for generations and Japanese-Americans during WWII by interning them in camps and stripping them of their rights. Our children learned from that and it has taken generations to begin to change our pattern of behavior.

During my career I had the opportunity to travel and work extensively in Muslim-majority countries and I now live in a heavily Hispanic area. Through these experiences, I've gained a great appreciation for various cultures and I've come to understand that, just like all of us who may be Jewish, Catholic, Lutheran or any other religion, the overwhelming majority of Muslim people are driven by the same goals we all have; to live in peace, and to raise a family whose future is better than their own. They are NOT religious fanatics any more than the rest of us are. The same is true for Hispanic people. The overwhelming majority of Hispanic people in this country are hard-working people just hoping for a better life for their children. Any attempt to revile the entirety of either (or any) group of people based on the actions of a few is absurd, and dangerous.

If we give in to the kind of hate mongering broadly professed by the likes of Mr. Trump, we are setting the stage for a generation of young people who will grow up with hate and fear in the souls and this will diminish our society for generations. It will not just be Muslims or Hispanics that they hate and fear it will be anyone who is not "like them." We are at risk of creating a whole generation of new Ku Klux Klanners.

For our children's sake, and for the sake of the soul of this great nation, we must not give in to hate mongering. By appealing to the most prurient emotions of our people the Trumps of the world might gain notoriety and attention. They gain applause and headlines. However, at the same time, they are indoctrinating a whole generation of youth with a sense of fear and hatred that "anyone not like me is not good enough to be an American".

Those of us who care about our youth, who care about the future of our nation and who care about the very values that are intrinsic to our culture must take action. We must assure that our children hear the whole story, and that they learn that while there may be bad people in all social, religious and cultural groups, those bad people do not represent the entire group. The few terrorists, the few murderers, the few thieves the few rapists that exist in all groups do not define us.

The good, hard-working, caring and loving people in each group should define us and we must make sure our children grow up understanding that.