FOCUS: A Lesson In Tolerance – Part 1

Article first published as FOCUS: A Lesson In Tolerance: Part 1 on Technorati.

Last night, while flipping through the channels, I came across a movie called Focus starring William H Macy and Laura Dern.

I was drawn to the movie almost immediately. It takes place in a small Brooklyn neighborhood towards the end of World War II, where an ordinary man named Lawrence Newman and his wife live a good and quiet life.

Newman is an ordinary man who does not want to stand out in the crowd. Even when he witnesses violence outside of his Brooklyn window, he remains quiet, unwilling to make waves. Once he gets eyeglasses, however, his neighbors begin to perceive him differently and mistake him and his wife for Jews.

Finding themselves suddenly discriminated against by their anti-Semitic neighbors, they befriend a local Jewish immigrant and struggle for their dignity and survival.

When viciously attacked by an anti-Semitic group, the only person that comes to the rescue is Mr. Feinstein the Jewish Immigrant, and only then Newman knows that he has to do something; he goes to the Police Station to make a report about his attack, just to be met by another bigot police officer that asks so how many of “You people” live down there.

I was so angry, just to think about all the other unfairness and bigotry that some groups had to endure at that time and how some groups still endure them till this modern day. The actions of Newman in the movie reminded me of the famous quote by Martin Niemoeller a protestant leader that lived in Germany during the holocaust time and helped Jews escape the Nazis; he said:

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out–
because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out–
because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me–
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Violence can evolve out of prejudice based on ignorance, fear, and misunderstanding about minority groups and other groups who are different from us.

Such behaviors have to be condemned for being inappropriate in a modern, pluralistic society.

1. Stereotyping often results from, and leads to, personal prejudice and bigotry.
2. Unchecked prejudice and bigotry leads to discrimination, violence, and, in extreme cases, genocide.
3. Prejudice can be spread by the use of propaganda and inflamed by certain people or even by the media.
4. Slang, and name calling are often used to dehumanize members of certain groups of people, which is a precursor of discrimination, isolation, and violence

To render the minority groups powerless because of an ignorant fear of who they are, and what they can do if they became stronger; they are dehumanized by being subjected to degrading and humiliating experiences based on prejudice. They have also been/ are subject to violence, minority institutions, such as worship places as Synagogues or Mosques have been the target of vandalism, arson, and desecration; which we have witnessed lately in the news.

Diversity starts at home,

Sahar Andrade
Diversity Consultant – Social Media Strategist
Sahar Consulting, LLC.

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My Diversity Cafe Technorati blog: FOCUS: A Lesson In Tolerance – Part 1


One thought on “FOCUS: A Lesson In Tolerance – Part 1

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