Never underestimate the power of hate

Published 10:16 pm Monday, May 13, 2019

By Kenya Smith

On March 15, many of us woke up to devastating news coming from Christchurch, New Zealand. Fifty people were killed and 50 more were wounded after a gunman entered two mosques and opened fire. The gunman’s motive was revealed when investigators discovered a 74-page manifesto where the perpetrator expressed his hatred toward immigrants, the Jewish community and the Islamic community. What makes this tragedy and other tragedies even more upsetting is how some world leaders responded.

For example, Australian Sen. Fraser Anning of Queensland caused controversy after he blamed Muslim immigration and the victims for the Christchurch shootings. It’s not surprising that there are people who react as Anning did when a tragedy happens because of the victims’ ethnicity, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, etc. I am sure that in our everyday lives, many of us have encountered people who are like that. I know I have.

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The victims are not responsible for this tragedy, because they didn’t bother anyone. These victims were men, women and even children who were only attending their worship services with their families and friends. Anning’s comments were dishonorable to the memory of those who were killed and aloof to the pain of those who have survived. When I listen to the responses of people like Anning, I wonder how they would they feel if they, their loved ones or their friends were in the same situations as the victims involved in Christchurch, Charleston, Orlando or Quebec? I bet none of them would want someone to blatantly say or imply that it was their loved one’s fault or their friend’s fault. God forbid if the tables were turned. That is why we should have empathy and always treat people the way we want to be treated, because we never know if or when we would be in the same situation.

Another example is that there are people who trivialize the impact of racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia and other forms of prejudice. In response to the shooting that happened weeks ago, some people felt that white supremacy is not a huge threat because “a small group of people” is engaged in it. However, small in number doesn’t always mean small in impact. We’re seeing a rise in rallies, propaganda and even incidents that promote white supremacy. If you look on Facebook, you will witness videos of people blatantly expressing their prejudice against African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Muslims, immigrants, LGBTQ individuals, and so many others.

Many of us say that we love everybody, but love is what love does. If you’re hanging around anyone who constantly say dehumanizing things about a certain group, say something. If they refuse, they are showing you their true colors. If we truly love everyone, it will show. Words are powerful, but they can be even more powerful when they are backed by our actions.

My heart goes out to the victims and their families. I will never apologize for speaking out against hatred of any kind. We can do better than this.

Kenya Smith is a Suffolk native. Email her at