Tulsa Hate Crime

Imagine taking a quiet walk through your neighborhood only to have someone run you down in his car and leave you for dead in your neighbor’s yard. That happened to my friend’s mother who lives in south Tulsa.

You can go here for a picture of the guy and the immediate facts.

What the story doesn’t say is what my friend told me. This man is a neighbor of her parents, and just hours before he plowed into her mom with his car, he called her “filthy Lebanese.”

My friend said that her mom has broken bones, but will recover from her physical injuries after several weeks. I wonder if she will ever recover from the hate?

It’s so easy to label people, and even easier to find Internet rants and misinformation, radio shows that whip up anger toward certain people or populations, and TV “news” that supports any stereotype that we may hold.

I don’t even know what to say about this horrific thing that happened to my friend’s mother. It’s hard to believe. She’s a hard-working south Tulsa grandma! How could anyone want to hurt her? Hurt her! He easily could have killed her, which was probably his goal.

Why do we put up with this? Hate speech too often leads to harmful actions.

I’m all about free speech, so what can we do?

We can call it out when we see it, for one thing. In our personal lives, one-on-one, if we hear someone say something offensive, we can point out that we don’t like it. On a larger scale, we can protest it, not read it or watch it and call it out publicly. Just this morning, Donald Trump was in New Hampshire and a man was slamming Muslims, saying that President Obama is a Muslim born in another country. Trump didn’t correct him. Nor did anyone else in the audience. When people on the public stage, especially those running for arguably the highest office in not just the nation, but the world, refuse to speak up in the face of such angry, false rhetoric, then what does that say about us as a nation? Is that really okay?

I get it. Hate sells. Anger fuels passion. You need look no further than a football game – our side against theirs. Angry passion moves people to act, which is exactly the problem. Hate speech matters because it spurs action.

One thing we can do as parents is teach our children through word and action that this kind of hate and prejudice in simply unacceptable. Children look to their parents as role models. Be a good one. Show them what it means to be reasonable and to have a civil exchange with someone, even someone you disagree with.

With so much information available at swipe or a click, it’s more important than ever to teach children at home and at school about the difference between fact and opinion. It’s crucial that children know the difference between accurate sources and those that are not credible. Help them understand faulty logic. Teach them to listen to both sides of an issue and to question assertions, especially those made in anger.

Conspiracy theories, Machiavellian techniques, angry tirades, “us against them,” salacious stories — they all draw us in. Human beings love drama. But the drama of hateful rhetoric leads to real consequences. Consequences like a south Tulsa grandma being run down while taking a walk in her own neighborhood.

Categories: Editor’s Blog