The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

April 19, 2014

From The Back Porch: It’s difficult to blindly hate people you know


Columnist

— Here are two items from the Rodney King “can’t we all get along” file.

First, a Palestinian university professor dares to take his students to a Nazi concentration camp to see what some Jews experienced in World War II.

Professor Mohammed S. Dajani took 27 of his students to the Auschwitz camp in Poland to teach them empathy and tolerance, The Washington Post reported. Upon their return a few weeks ago, the university disavowed the trip, his countrymen accused him of being a traitor and his friends advised him to get out of town.

Apparently any effort to depict Jews as fellow human beings is traitorous among dedicated Palestinians. To be fair, many Israelis feel the same way about Palestinians.

Dajani said, “I thought there would

be some complaints; then

it would be

forgotten.”

Not by a long shot.

The trip was paid for by the German Research Foundation, The Post reported. The goal is to study the reactions of students. In a second part of the study, Jewish Israelis visited Bethlehem to hear Palestinian refugees tell their stories.

This is a new kind of radicalism — peaceful listening, learning and engagement. Would to God it would catch on.

One of the students on the trip said: “You feel the humanity. You feel the sympathy of so many people killed in this place because of their race or religion.”

He added, “Most people said we shouldn’t go.”

That’s the danger of allowing humans to connect as humans; they lose their hatred. People who want to maintain control need to feed that ignorant hatred.

Switch the dateline to America, the Heart of Dixie and that most American of pastimes — baseball.

Hall of Famer Hank Aaron stomped all over Southern etiquette when he dared to propose that racism in America isn’t dead.

Sherman burned Atlanta for a reason, and a good reason for doing it again is the plethora of meanness pouring forth from ignorant racists. The Atlanta Braves office has been flooded with messages from people calling Aaron names, threatening to boycott games and questioning whether he should remain senior vice president of the team.

The brouhaha came after an Aaron interview with USA Today sports in which he acknowledged that racism still exists.

Aaron said: “A lot of things have happened in this country, but we have so far to go. There’s not a whole lot that has changed.”

He noted President Obama is black and is being held back by Republicans. “The bigger difference is back then they had hoods,” Aaron said, referring to the Ku Klux Klan. “Now they have neckties and starched shirts.”

No doubt some of President Obama’s difficulties and some of the criticism he faces is related to his skin color. He is being universally hated by some as much as his predecessors Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter were. And the Democrats showed the same hatred for Bush I and Bush II.

However, Aaron is right that today’s racism is much more subtle and better dressed than the frustrated white people of the Jim Crow era. Those who think America is living in a post-racial age are deluding themselves.

Hammerin’ Hank hit a homerun in this writer’s eyes. For that reason, he better keep a bat handy.

For all the so-called

education reform of the past 12 years, it’s clear that America can’t educate the ignorance out of people who refuse to let it happen.

— Young is a Register-Herald columnist.

E-mail: ynerissa@frontier.com.

© 2014 by Nerissa Young