During a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing today to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day and discuss ongoing efforts to combat bigotry and hate, Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) urged all Americans to stand up for one another and unite, as a community, against all forms of hate-fueled violence and discrimination.
“Clearly, there’s two very important responses that we need to have when these incidents of hate speech, anti-religious, racial incidents occur,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “One, is to show an immediate sense of solidarity in responding to it. The other is to take very practical steps to try to protect against these attacks – and I think we’re bringing important focus in the Congress to both of those things.”
Sarbanes continued: “Often, our concept of solidarity is reactive. In other words, if something occurs, then we assemble a kind of unified coalition response to condemn it, and obviously that’s an important thing to do. What that seeks to overcome is human nature, because when an incident occurs, the immediate reflexive human response is to think, ‘Am I a part of the group that was attacked or am I not a part of the group?’ And if you weren’t part of the group – the specific group that experienced the pain of the attack – your reflex is, in a sense, relief. You momentarily set yourself apart. That’s a difficult thing to overcome, but we need to get to a place where this convergence-of-interest concept is so deep and abiding that if any particular subgroup within our community and our society feels pain or is attacked, we feel it –regardless of whether we are part of that group…. So that when the attack occurs, the broad community feels it in that instant, rather than there being that kind of delayed response.”