Yesterday, in a horrible hate crime, a man yelled “Heil Hitler” at the Jewish Community Center in Kansas City and then murdered three innocent people because he saw them as “the other”. My prayers are with the victims and their families.
Hitler didn’t “just” kill Jews — he was a mass murderer who also killed people with disabilities and others right along side Jews. It was Hitler’s way of creating a master Aryan race. So when someone yells “Heil Hitler” and then kills innocent people – the hater has embraced a philosophy that sees Jews, people with disabilities and others as worthy of elimination.
Fortunately, in America today people don’t go hunting people with disabilities dead like what happened in KC. But according to the FBI, last year the number of hate crimes reported against people with disabilities doubled.
I am Jewish and have a disability. Just last week I brought my children to our local Jewish Community Center to make sandwiches for homeless people. So I know that my children could have been victims of this horrific event just as easily. Indeed, at our former home a man from the same wrong-headed thinking as the KC murder put anti-Semitic leaflets on our doorstep. That hater then killed an innocent man at the Holocaust museum. So this attack hits home in many ways.
My father is visiting us now for Passover. In 1939 Europe, my father’s family didn’t have such freedom as we are blessed to have in America today. Most of my his family was killed by Hitler for being Jewish — for being DIFFERENT. Thank goodness he was able to escape to America. Tonight Jews around the world will celebrate freedom at our Seders. Soon Christians will celebrate Easter. All of us are enjoying Spring.
Hate crimes against any of us are hate crimes against all of us.
Haters place blame and false images on people they don’t know. They live in a world of negative stereotypes. They make bad and dangerous decisions based on these horrible stereotypes.
Frankly, that is why the work of RespectAbility is SO important. Yes, we spend much of our time focused on jobs for people with disabilities. But the fact is that people often don’t hire people with disabilities because they don’t see people with disabilities as having the same VALUE. The lack of jobs is a symptom of a larger disease — the RESPECT for other human beings is not there.
At RespectAbility we are working to change that. Our underlying mission is to shape hearts and minds in order to enable people to respect EVERYONE.
Ending hate, ending stereotypes, replacing them with hope, that’s the important work we do we do at RespectAbility. Thank you for joining in that work. I wish you and yours many blessings at this time and always.
Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi President