Anxiety and Scapegoating Pre January 6 Rioting

A mob fight with members of law enforcement at a door they broke open as they storm the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2021 (photo: REUTERS/Leah Millis).

Jacob Chansley, the spear-carrying January 6 rioter whose horned fur hat, bare chest and face paint made him the most recognizable figure in the assault on the Capitol, was sentenced Wednesday to 41 months in prison. Chansley was among the first of the 675+ rioters to enter the Capitol building.

If you think discontent, anxiety and the scapegoating of immigrants, gays, Muslims and Jews just arose during the Trump presidency look at this November 2015 poll which found that the majority of Americans (56 percent, including majorities in all the major Christian traditions) say the values of Islam are at odds with American values. That’s a significant rise of nine points, since 2011 when Americans were split, with 47 percent saying Islamic values were incompatible while 48 percent disagreed.

This includes: 73 of white evangelical Protestants (up 14 points from 59 percent in 2011) 63 percent of white mainline Protestants (up 16 points from 47 percent) and 61 percent of Catholics (up 20 points from 41 percent)

Only three groups did not reflect significant rise in Islamophobia: 55 percent of black Protestants said Islamic values were incompatible (up only 4 points from 51 percent) and 41 percent of “nones,” people who claim no religious label, and Jews (42 percent).

Since Jews are non-Christians, and 95 percent of “nones” are ex-Christians; both groups are usually closer to each other than either is to traditional Christian political values.

These figures come from the Public Religion Research Institute’s annual American Values Survey (of 2,695 U.S. adults), released on November 17. 2015.

These figures are the result of widespread doubt about America’s future. For the first time in six years of the survey, Americans are split — 49 percent to 49 percent — on whether “America’s best days are ahead of us or behind us.”

The slow recovery from the Great Rescission, legal gay marriage and ongoing terrorism in the Middle East make millions of American’s doubt America’s future. Some of these fearful people will fall for lies of demagogues who will try to scapegoat Muslims, Jews immigrants and Gays.

When you add the advent of Covid-19 and the rapid spread of internet fake news you can understand the world-wide spread of disgusting hate group scapegoating. Online hate speech in the UK and US rose by 20% since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new report by youth charity Ditch the Label which analyzed 263 million conversations in the UK and US, between 2019 and mid-2021.

Scapegoating refers to the human tendency to blame someone else for one's own economic, social or personal problems, a process that traditionally resulted in men blaming women for failing to have male children. Yet a study of hundreds of years of family trees indicates that men inherit a tendency to have more sons or more daughters from their parents. This means that a man with many brothers is more likely to have sons, while a man with many sisters is more likely to have daughters.

Yet this anecdotal evidence was ignored for dozens of centuries while husbands blamed their wives for failing to produce sons.

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.

The Coronavirus pandemic may be novel, but Jews have had a long and tragic history of being accused of spreading deadly viruses. During the Black Death which started in 1348, hundreds of Jewish communities in Western Europe were attacked, despite the intervention of Pope Clement VI, who pointed out that Jews were dying from the plague just like everyone else. Needless to say, all that Jewish blood did nothing to stop the plague

As the plague swept across Europe, killing one third to one half the population, people had no  scientific understanding of the disease and were looking for an explanation. Jews were often taken as scapegoats and accusations spread that Jews, in league with the Devil, had caused the disease by deliberately poisoning wells.

Nothing like this happened in the Arab or Muslim world although the bubonic plague swept through it as well.

But Muslims in India have been scapegoated for over a year and a half for spreading COVID-19.

Two weeks before the first Indian lockdown began, between 8 March and 10 March 2020, members of the Muslim missionary organization Tablighi Jamaat gathered from across India and Southeast Asia in Delhi for a long-scheduled meeting. Hundreds of these missionaries, then left Delhi to visit villages and towns around India to preach, mostly to Muslims, and some of them unknowing carried the coronavirus with them.

Now a slew of fake videos are being shared showing Muslims plotting to spread the coronavirus, including one video allegedly capturing Muslim men intentionally sneezing on others to infect them, and sadly some Hindu nationalist politicians are beginning the public scapegoating Muslim plot process. And things are getting worse. The media must expose all scapegoating where ever it occurs.

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: He blogs on the Times of Israel. Rabbi Maller has published 600+ 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".

  Category: Featured, Highlights, World Affairs
  Topics: Interfaith, Islamophobia, Racism, Social Justice
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