Incite that violence! Spread that hate! Wait. Who? Me? Well that’s a first

If you work in journalism long enough, you’re going to be called just about everything by just about everybody. It comes with the territory, and if you don’t start out with a thick skin, you’ll soon develop one. Most of the time, you ignore it. But in this environment supercharged with a nastiness many of us have never seen before, sometimes you get shocked. Like when the nastiness comes from people you’ve known most of your life. People who were not just friends, but close friends. It happened to me today, when I was accused on social media by a high school pal of both spreading hatred and inciting violence.

And what exactly did I do? Well, I produced a slide show. I had a rare Friday off, and used it to make my own statement about what might lie ahead following the election. And I did so through use of the most powerful communication tool in the history of mankind – the still photograph. I no longer work in daily newspaper journalism. I’m a college instructor nowadays. I teach on two campuses; California State University, Bakersfield, where I’m a lecturer in communication studies and media arts. And Bakersfield Community College, where my courses are photojournalism, multimedia reporting and media and society.

Both campuses are heavily Latino. The Latino student makeup of CSU Bakersfield is 49 percent, and the Latino student makeup of Bakersfield College is 62 percent. So with certainty, a  percentage of those students are DREAMers, and are among the 800,000 young men, women and children who have known the United States as their home for most or almost all of their lives, yet are subject to deportation under President-elect Donald Trump’s deportation plan, which he has doubled and tripled and quadrupled down on during his campaign. Some of these DREAMers are known to me, many others are not. And I’m worried sick about them. Could something this cold, this callous, this utterly without compassion actually happen to these kids and young adults?

So I spent the day culling historic images from The Library of Congress, purchased a piece of music and produced a video showing what it looked like the last time the United States rounded up and relocated human beings in a “humane” manner. You know, back in 1942. My intent, of course, was to show through history what we as a nation are on the precipice of repeating. I see it as a cautionary tale. Spreading hatred? Inciting violence? Well, check it out and by all means, you tell me.

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6 thoughts on “Incite that violence! Spread that hate! Wait. Who? Me? Well that’s a first

  1. Sharing history is not inciting violence. I’m in shock at how many Americans remain unaware of what happened to Japanese Americans. That history needs to be shared; people need to be aware that dangerous speech can lead to dangerous actions.

  2. Thank you for writing John and for reminding us of the power of media and journalism. My husband and I have been sickened by the slanted media all through this recent season. Although I could have found things to disagree with from either political representative I do not believe they were the monsters that media painted them to be. All the violence and over reaction is in fact the result of slanted news coverage. Many of us are working productively and praying but we are not getting any news highlighting. Curious!

  3. Thank you for creating, and thank you for sharing. The people who argue that this is “spreading hatred and inciting violence” are part of the problem. We must know our nation’s history, the good and the bad, and pretending the bad doesn’t exist paves the way for things like this to occur again.

  4. This is America’s shame. American citizens rounded up, losing homes, businesses, their professions and were tried, found guilty, and imprisoned for the crime of being of Japanese descent. Any American who thinks this couldn’t possibly happen to anyone these days, much less themselves, had better think again. Read the article in The Washington Post by Paul Waksman about the so called “anti establishment” people Trump is surrounding himself with, being considered for various cabinet positions and those who will benefit from the “tax revisions” he has vowed to implement. Corporate lobbyists from Coca Cola, Pfizer, General Electric to name a few and Wall Street is jumping for joy, as are the big banks. Those who drank the Kool Aid Trump offered and asked for more, please, are going to be find it bitter rather than refreshing, and soon after he takes the oath of office. So John, take heart: you have done nothing to incite violence or spread hate. You have simply told the truth that many refuse to accept either out of ignorance or shame. If that costs a friendship, as hurtful as that may feel, then so be it. We all have a responsibility and are afforded the right to the right to speak our opinions and the truth of the mistakes made throughout history by the First Amendment. You have done that in a sobering, thoughtful way. Bravo!

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