Back in November, when Temple Sholom first met with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to create a community program, they had no idea just how timely it would be.
The virtual event, “The Future of Hate Online and Offline and How We Fight Back” was held on January 14, just one week after the US Capitol was stormed in Washington, DC.
Oren Segal, Vice President of ADL’s Center on Extremism, spoke about the trends of hate and extremism that have manifested deeply in this country surrounding the recent election and the global pandemic. The program was open to Temple Sholom members, in addition to other houses of worship in the Greenwich Fellowship of Clergy and ADL supporters. More than 150 people participated via zoom.
Segal began his presentation by saying, “What happened on January 6 in DC may have been the most predictable act of political violence in modern American history.”
During his talk, Segal spoke about the use of social media as a catalyzer to spread hate and misinformation. Social media has provided extremists with a narrative of a stolen election that will animate them for the next four years.
And when asked if the extremist landscape is going to get worse, Oren’s response was, “We need not panic. But, we can’t ignore the extremist threat that has staying power. We have to focus on the long game. What we saw is not going to go away anytime soon. Extremists are most dangerous when they think something is being taken away from them.”
After audience questions facilitated by Steve Ginsburg, ADL Connecticut’s Regional Director, Segal concluded the program with a summary on what can be done on an individual level. A few items include: supporting the concept of teaching critical thinking at a young age; teaching children not to be innocent bystanders; standing up and be an ally; speaking out to elected officials because our voices matter; seeing something/saying something and most importantly to not lose hope.
“These are heavy topics,” Segal sid. “Every time there is an incident, there is an opportunity for good people to reject it and stand up for something good.”