Matt deGrood

One of my most vivid childhood memories is of my mother sitting me down to tell me how much she hated raising children in a world with prejudice.

As someone who grew up in the 1960s South, during the height of the Civil Rights movement, the issue weighed particularly heavy in her mind. She’d tell us stories about what life was like in those days, I think in hopes of making sure we never forgot how ugly the world could be.

The world has changed a lot since those days. So much so, that I think for those who haven’t dealt with prejudice personally, it’s sometimes easy to forget how recent those days were.

As much as we might like to think we live in a kinder, gentler world than the one our parents lived through as children, events such as what occurred in Missouri City earlier this month serve as a stark reminder that sometimes people can be filled with just as much hate and malice as they ever have been.

And it’s our task to speak out forcefully against such behavior whenever it rears its ugly head.

Earlier this month, police investigators in Missouri City received a call about a series of anti-Semitic flyers that residents, out for their morning run, discovered strewn in driveways across the neighborhood.

All told, investigators recovered about 84 of them, according to Lt. Russell Terry, spokesman for the Missouri City Police Department.

It’s not yet clear who threw out the flyers or what their purpose was for doing so. But they made reference to an ongoing coronavirus agenda that they blamed on Jewish people. Still other flyers made offensive statements about the Jewish faith.

In the days after police first received the call about the flyers, elected leaders in both Fort Bend County and elsewhere have rightly condemned the move in resounding terms.

“Discrimination and harassment of individuals or groups based on race, religion, ancestry, place of origin, ethnic origin, citizenship or any other identity are intolerable,” Fort Bend County Judge KP George wrote. “As county judge of one of the most ethnically diverse counties in the country, I want to make clear that we all stand together and condemn racism, antisemitism and discrimination in all forms.”

The coronavirus pandemic and growing partisanship in politics have given rise to a meaner, uglier way of talking to each other. But what’s notable about these flyers is how much they rely on discrimination that goes back centuries.

No less than Adolf Hitler built popularity for the Nazi party by advancing a conspiracy theory that Jews, acting as one unit together, sought to destroy Germany and that the Nazis were only acting in self-defense.

While it might be tempting to dismiss the Missouri City flyers as mere words or the isolated actions of a lunatic fringe, we’ve already seen the first-hand effects that concentrated efforts to libel and defame entire peoples without evidence can have.

Members of the Anti-Defamation League praised George and other residents for speaking out so forcefully against the flyers.

And George and others should rightly be praised for taking action early.

Thus far, investigators haven’t yet been able to identify a person of interest in the case, Terry said. But they’re still searching for security video and evidence, Terry said.

The Missouri City Police Department is working with both the Anti-Defamation League and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office to track down whoever might be responsible for the flyers, Terry said. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a similar incident in their jurisdiction, Terry said.

“The one thing we want everyone in Fort Bend County to know is that this is an extremely diverse community,” Terry said. “We want everyone to feel safe and welcome here.”

If there’s one thing we should take away from something like this, it’s the important reminder that hate isn’t dead, and might never be. But the only thing that will allow hate to prosper is for good people to do nothing.

Someone out there - perhaps someone reading this editorial - knows something about who might be responsible for those flyers. If you read this, and know something, or know someone who might, I beseech you – please reach out to the Missouri City Police Department.

Give Terry a call at 281-403-8737.

Together, we can fight hate wherever it lives.

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