Richard Connor: Bigotry emboldened is bigotry unleashed

On a recent Saturday morning in New York City, families gathered outside a synagogue for a bat mitzvah, the Jewish religious observance for a 13-year old girl as she enters adulthood in her faith.

It’s a joyous occasion.

Smiles and laughter rippled through the crowd, especially among the girl’s teenage friends who spent the latter hours of the day just being teenagers and having fun.

As they climbed the stairs to enter the synagogue they passed an armed policeman and once inside had to pause while purses were scanned.

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One girl turned to her father and said, “Can you believe they need a policeman with a gun here, screening people?”

It’s the age we live in, he replied sadly.

Suddenly, in an odd juxtaposition of seemingly disparate events and issues, his mind raced to the controversy in the NFL over players refusing to stand during the raising of the flag and singing of the national anthem at football games.

What’s the connection?

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It’s racism, racial profiling by police, anti-Semitism and all the ugliness that has one common theme: bigotry.

Alive and prevalent today in this country, as virulent as it has ever been, bigotry unfortunately lives.

And there are those among us who believe the current president and his bootlicking vice-president represent those groups of people in this country who are haters. What and who do these people hate? Just about everything and everybody, including, most probably, themselves. And they want to blame everyone but themselves for their lot in life, whatever it might be.

Unless you are white and Christian you should be afraid these days. That’s why policemen stand armed at the doors of synagogues. That’s why if you are the parent of a young woman entering adulthood in her faith you might worry about the discrimination or worse that she might face just for being Jewish.

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And in this atmosphere of hate for Hispanics and blacks and Jews and Muslims, among others, amid the police shootings of young black men, some pro football players have decided not to stand for the national anthem. It’s a quiet but highly visible protest – and so what? In this country, you can protest. It’s a right.

What seems odd to some folks is that kneeling is seen as respectful and devout in church but somehow disrespectful in front of the flag. But then, logic is not the stock-in-trade of bigotry.

“Bigotry seems emboldened,” former President George W. Bush said in an Oct. 19 speech in New York decrying the “casual cruelty” and blatant racism of today’s political discourse.

Noting that “bigotry and white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed,” Bush called on Americans to renew their commitment to our nation’s “civic ideals” and values.

Let’s hope the country heeds his words. And maybe children celebrating at a synagogue will no longer need armed guards to protect them.

Richard Connor is president and publisher of the Fort Worth Business Press. Contact him at