The Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum is devastated by the horrific targeting of a Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, the senseless murder of 10 people, and the physical and emotional wounding of so many more. This attack at a grocery store was perpetrated by an 18-year-old who reportedly started his path toward radicalization just two years ago. While it is terrifying that a young mind could be corrupted so quickly, it is sadly not surprising. Hatred is learned behavior and the detestable rhetoric of white supremacy is rampant across social media, online, and cable news.
This young shooter was influenced by similar attacks perpetrated by white supremacists, spouting “replacement theory” conspiracies and motivations, beginning with the Tree of Life Synagogue murders in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, extending to a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, and to a big box store in El Paso, Texas. This conspiracy theory marks people of color and Jews as threats to our society who must be eliminated.
The scourge of racially motivated violence knows no geographic or demographic boundaries. Here in Dallas, we are waiting to learn whether the recent shooting at a hair salon, injuring three women of Korean descent, was motivated by prejudice and hatred of Asian Americans, and linked to a series of attacks at Asian-run businesses in our city.
We must speak out against ideologies and conspiracy theories that turn us against one another. We must redouble our efforts to teach about the dangers of unchecked prejudice and hatred and to continue our work to inspire Upstander behavior. We take hope from the knowledge that because hatred is a learned behavior, it can be unlearned.
It is easy to be overwhelmed by atrocities such as these, but we must continue to stand up for what is right and work to promote civil discourse, pluralism, and respect and acceptance for all. At the Museum, our greatest hope is to reach all the youth in our community with lessons to help them understand their responsibility to stand up to racism. Let us all work to try to prevent future 18-year-olds from falling prey to the allure of demonizing the other, blaming society’s ills on a scapegoat, and finding fulfillment in groups and ideologies aligned with hatred and violence. Together, we must offer an alternate path through education and providing a supportive and welcoming community inspired by hope.
The mission of the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum is to teach the history of the Holocaust and advance human rights to combat prejudice, hatred, and indifference. To learn more, visit www.dhhrm.org.
– Mary Pat Higgins, President and CEO
– Mark Zilbermann, Board Chair