Racism and Xenophobia
Written by Alfonso Elizondo
The current UN Secretary General, Portuguese politician António Guterres, spoke about anti-Semitism last Wednesday and said they had to fight it as well as other forms of racism and hate. He issued a challenge for tolerance and respect to be taught in the digital age. He said that according to a recent study by the University of Tel Aviv, acts of anti-Semitic violence increased by 13% in 2018 compared to the previous year, and so far in 2019 they have grown dramatically.
Guterres said that in the US, Europe and all regions of the world, attacks on synagogues, cemeteries and individuals continue to make many Jews feel insecure. He stated that in recent months alone there have been massacres in mosques and bombings in churches. Both migrants and refugees continue to face hostility. He noted that white supremacists and neo-Nazis are emboldened by polls that show how appealing their racist messages are.
According to Guterres, the origins of this phenomenon are, among other things, violence, marginalization, discrimination, exclusion, poverty, inequality, lack of basic education and the weakness of state institutions. Therefore, he would promote education as a preventive tool that can raise awareness and generate a shared feeling of common purpose to tackle the seeds of hate.
The current UN head hopes that his organization can be equipped to respond effectively to the impact of hate speech in today's society. Guterres also put forward a series of recommendations included in the initiative, such as convening a meeting of individuals and groups with opposing views, working on traditional and social media platforms, promoting and developing communication guidelines to counteract hate speech trends and campaigns.
Finally Guterres acknowledged that digital technology has created new spaces for hate speech, where it can thrive and grow even more. And conversely, digital technology can help to monitor that new activity of creating hate, as well as generate support against the terrible hate narratives that flood the world today.
Addendum: Although the UN is devoting much of its research to combating racism and interracial hatred, this social phenomenon is on the rise every day, without anyone being able to explain its true causes.