In Glen Rock, neighbors help neighbors, the mail carrier offers to drop your package off on her way home, our houses of worship work and celebrate together, and the list of community bliss goes on and on. We look out for each other. But we have to be honest about something that is not going so well in Glen Rock. The recent swastikas found in the MS/HS are not isolated incidents.
They stand amongst other hate incidents that have happened at the MS/HS. Against Jews. And against people of color. And against women. And against the LGBTQ+ community. I have 2 daughters who have traveled through the Glen Rock school system; the youngest is a junior, and they have both seen anti-Semitism throughout their tenure at the high school. Holocaust jokes are being told. Yes, you read that right. Coins are being thrown to see if the "cheap Jew" will pick them up. My daughter posted a picture of herself with Jewish friends squeezed into an elevator, which she jokingly captioned, “How many Jews can you fit in an elevator?” A fellow student responded, "Throw a quarter in the elevator, then you can fit a lot." This information is direct from my children and their friends. It's not an exaggeration of the situation or an attempt by me to stir a pot. It's just the truth. And we need to talk honestly about it.
We need a candid conversation as a community about a changing climate of acceptable hate, even here in our beloved little town. It breaks my heart to hear people brush off these incidents by saying, “Kids do stupid things.” When I’m mad, I may curse or call a name, but my anger wouldn’t make me suddenly racist and use the n-word. Examples of hate such as these are an attack, and they are an attack on ALL of us. Every Glen Rocker. Because when one of us hurts, we all hurt. Please let us stand together with one, clear, loud message of NO. No we will not stand for this in our community. And perhaps a comforting “yes,” as well. Yes, I stand by my neighbor in support and friendship.
Increased incidents of hate may be the new norm, but as written in a New Yorker article from October 2017 titled, How Norms Change, “The beauty of norms is that, unlike ingrained hatreds, they are flexible. They shift quickly; with the right pressure from the right people, they can shift back.”
Thank you to all our neighbors in Glen Rock who have expressed support and outrage and who are trying to shift us back. The silver lining of hate is the opportunity it provides for people to shine light.