Coronavirus Scapegoating


A 36-year-old man planned an attack in a hospital treating coronavirus cases in Missouri, died after a shootout with the FBI. Officials said the man was motivated by racist and anti-government beliefs.

He had considered a range of targets before settling on the hospital because of the current coronavirus outbreak. According to the FBI the man had previously considered attacking a school with many black students, but the school was closed due to the spread of the coronavirus. He then focused on killing Muslims or Jews but, mosques and synagogues were closed due to the spread of the coronavirus.

So, he decided that since all these obstacles were caused by COVID-19 he would punish the virus carrying people in the hospital.

This man is an example of a hate-filled person who is a scapegoater, because he has many groups that he hates, and no rational reason to hate them, except the reasons in his twisted mind.

Scapegoating refers to the human tendency to blame someone else for one's own economic, social or personal problems, a process that often comes from feelings of prejudice toward the group that one is blaming.

Scapegoating serves as an opportunity to publicly vent one’s own frustrations, rage and hate, while ignoring one’s own failures or misdeeds and maintaining one's positive self-image.

It is important for all members of minority groups to realize for themselves and teach others that the victims of hate filled scapegoaters are completely innocent of all responsibility for the problems that the scapegoater has. Do not ever let children fall for the hate virus that claims the victims somehow brought this hatred upon themselves.

School districts across America are now providing K-12 education online, and an increasing number will not resume face-to-face classes until the fall. As a result, Sameer Hinduja, a cyber bullying expert from Florida Atlantic University cautions that there will likely be an increase in personal cyber bullying as well as political religious and ethnic scapegoating among youth.

"When smartphones and social media became ubiquitous for students, cyber bullying rates went up. In the midst of major crises where everyone is already on edge, Hinduja says (scapegoating) hostility toward others tends to escalate. This may manifest even more so between students in their online interactions—their posts, comments, and videos. Some of it will be mild, and some of it will be severe.”

An example of this was the scapegoating of European Jews during the Black Death of the 14th Century which killed 100- 200 million people world-wide over a decade or two. It resulted in dozens of attacks on European Jews who were accused of working with the Devil by poisoning local community water wells. Nothing like this happened in the Muslim world.

The word scapegoat has a fascinating history. Today the word is used to refer to one who is wrongly blamed for something, but it really originated with an actual goat.

In the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, God decreed a particular day during which the entire nation of Israel would fast for 24 hours, set aside all work, and after each individual had reconciled with those people he or she had personally harmed; the priests would help the people atone ritually for the communal sins against God of the whole nation.

Among the rituals prescribed was the scapegoat: “And [Prophet] Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the Lord’s lot fell and offer this goat for a sin [atonement] offering. But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness. (Leviticus 16:8-10)

The scapegoat carried the sins that the people had already atoned for, away with it thereby symbolically cleansing the Children of  Israel for another year. The English scapegoat is a compound of the archaic English verb scape, which means "escape," and goat, ʽēz 'ōzēl , "the goat that departs." Modern English translations render scapegoat in this text as Azazel, but the King James reading endured and has entered our lexicon.

Allen S. Maller is an ordained Reform Rabbi who retired in 2006 after 39 years as the Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City, California. His web site is: www.rabbimaller.com. He blogs on the Times of Israel. Rabbi Maller has published 400+ articles in some two- dozen different Christian, Jewish, and Muslim magazines and web sites. He is the author of two recent books: "Judaism and Islam as Synergistic Monotheisms' and "Which Religion Is Right For You? A 21st Century Kuzari".


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