Good Law | Bad Law #93 - Charlottesville One Year later: A reflection w/ Nancy Baron-Baer

Aaron Freiwald: Welcome back to good law bad law. My guest on today's episode is Nancy Baron-Bear she's an attorney and the regional director of the Anti Defamation League in the Philadelphia region which also includes New Jersey and some of the counties surrounding Philadelphia. We're reflecting back on Charlottesville one year later. What we've learned about extremism hate speech hate violence since the terrible demonstrations and violence that occurred in Charlottesville. And what can we do both in law and in our basic interactions with one another to combat these terrible trends. What can we learn from one another. How can we speak with one another. And what can we all do to help reduce these terrible incidents of violence and hateful behavior. It's a fascinating episode with someone who's really on the frontlines of anti extremism. You won't want to miss this episode. Stay tuned.

 

Aaron Freiwald: My guest today on Good Law Bad Law is Nancy Baron-Bear she is the regional director of the Philadelphia region of the Anti Defamation League and we're talking about Charlottesville one year later. So first of all Nancy thank you so much for being on the program.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: Thrilled to be here.

 

Aaron Freiwald: We are joining a conversation really because many people are taking this opportunity to look back on the terrible demonstrations riots that took place in Charlottesville in August of last year. And to assess why that happened with the benefit of hindsight and what lessons we might have learned since then and where we're going from here. I want to do that with the benefit of your experience and to to do that. I hope you'll give us a little background on yourself first and tell us about the ADL and the work that you do.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: Certainly. So as you heard my name is Nancy Baron-Bear. I am an attorney by trade. Spent a number of years in private law firms in Philadelphia and ended up managing being the managing partner at a firm called Eckert Seamans which was formed from a firm called Connolly Epstein and that is my background before ADL. But I think I never really believed that I would practice law for my whole life in a law firm although it certainly was a good experience. And when the opportunity arose to work at the Anti Defamation League I jumped at it. Some people say well why. Why ADL.

 

Aaron Freiwald: That's a good question.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: And the answer is its mission and ADL has been around for 105 years and its mission has never changed. It was founded by a number of elderly white guys in Chicago 105 years ago. But they obviously were very bright because they said at a time of great anti-Semitism we need to make sure we can protect the Jewish people. But if any minority if any group of people is threatened if any group of people is challenged then no group of people will be safe and therefore the mission includes securing justice and fair treatment for all. And so for me that was really important.

 

Aaron Freiwald: Personally I know your background was in corporate law when you were a lawyer. How did this attract you. Was there something personal from your experience or from work you had done while you were practicing as a lawyer that drew you to the work of the ADL.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: Well I certainly did a lot of work with other nonprofits while I was practicing law. And I think my parents use to say I was always standing up for the other guy and always arguing and so the idea of being able to stand up for others being able to help people when they were discriminated against or take stands with public officials was very very appealing as well as the fact that ADL works with all and across all communities. So I still work with friends in the legal community in the corporate community but also in many other places and with many other people that I would never have had the opportunity to know and to grow from.

 

Aaron Freiwald: Well and give us a little summary of the ADL. I know you told us a little bit about its origins over 100 years ago today. What are some of the issues that ADL is actively involved in.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: So with the mission as broad as securing justice and fair treatment for all the work we do is also broad. For instance we are big advocates. We advocate for laws and we advocate against laws or policies as the case may be in Washington. Today we are working very hard on immigration on voting rights on school to prison pipeline issues. Those are mostly from our national office. So we do a lot of that kind of advocacy. We write amicus briefs on different cases we hear in this region just recently submitted with help of a law firm a brief to the on the case of in Boyertown of the transgender student and the rights to use the bathroom. And so we entered our appearance in that case in addition to advocacy we do a lot of research. We find that the best way to overcome and get past those that hate and hate speech is to expose people to also engage in a lot of good speech. So we have researchers that engage in everything from right wing extremism like Charlottesville to left wing extremism and everything in the middle. We do a lot of work on the Internet and cyber hate. We work with Google and Facebook and Twitter and all of those entities in Silicon Valley to try to look at issues around where does free speech start. Where does free speech stop. Does it stop at all. And so we do a lot of work on that cutting edge kind of issue it's more and more in the forefront of our news today. We work with schools. We are probably the largest anti-bias educator. We work in K through 12. We work on college campuses. We work with teachers with administrators on anti bullying anti bias. And we do a program called No Place For Hate. You may have heard of it some of the listeners you've seen the signs in schools we're in 225 schools and community groups. Today in Pennsylvania. So those are just a very few. One of the other things and we can talk about more later involves our work with law enforcement. We are the largest non-governmental trainer of law enforcement in the United States. That's a fact that not very many people know and we believe that by training law enforcement to better understand these different extremists or terrorists whether it's Islamic whether it's white supremacists whether it's Islamophobia. if we can train them if we can have them better understand backgrounds and they can come to us if they need assistance then we are helping to make our society better. In addition we do a lot of training on hate crimes. How do you recognize one. What do you do about it. How do you approach it. And again we may talk about that later too.

 

Aaron Freiwald: For sure and I think that's that's exactly where I want us to go over the course of our conversation. What are some of the things that your group is doing what are some of the things that are happening in the legislature and what are some things that we can all do. And I think that there are things to do on each of those levels also suggest the complexity of this problem. And you know in my own view. It is too easy to oversimplify the problem that we're talking about which is a hate violence from hate extremism. And so we have to we have to talk about Charlottesville, Charlottesville has been described as the epicenter of hate what happened a year ago and for those who may not remember well enough or if for no other reason just to set the context for us. Let let's look back at what happened and you know what what what do you think we have learned a year later as we've had now time to digest what happened to study what happened. There's been many reports that have come out to understand just where things broke down and how this all could have occurred the way it did resulting in a young woman being killed during those demonstrations and many other people being hurt. How do you as the head of this regional office of ADL how do you reflect back on Charlottesville now a year later.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: It's very interesting because we at ADL have said for a long time that we were not surprised by Charlottesville. The actions of individuals at Charlottesville occurred for many many years before and to be honest they're occurring today. The difference was that there were five to six hundred individuals that gathered in one spot.

 

Aaron Freiwald: In the open.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: In the open. It's often in the open but it's usually two dozen or three dozen. But when you have five to six hundred people who then used certain symbols from the Nazi era from the rallies and use phrases like Jews will not replace us. And they use torches and they marched at night. They did that purposely to hearken back to a time that might bring fear to the minds of many many individuals. So I think the numbers were for America probably what was most astounding but the fact that groups of people with thoughts like that get together and want to have a rally is not at all and was not a surprise.

 

Aaron Freiwald: Well and because the roots of that unite the right rally as they called it also had something to do with the legacy of the civil war. You know one of the at least claim bases for the protests in the first place was talk of dismantling some confederate era statues in and around Charlottesville. And so when you say that some of the imagery that these demonstrators were very deliberately trying to evoke harken us back to the you know the time of the brownshirts in Nazi Germany. They also harken us back to the Ku Klux Klan in our own country and those hate marches and the violence against blacks in this country.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: Absolutely. Absolutely. This was one of the first times if not the first time that so many different white supremacist groups and the alt right agreed to come together. They stopped the infighting and they merged. And that's how we got the five to six hundred people.

 

Aaron Freiwald: Right.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: But there is no question that the Confederate monuments were one of the reasons that they sought to gather together on that day. But again that's not new. And unfortunately since then we have episodes at schools here in our region whether it's a school in Bucks County where a teacher displayed a Confederate flag over her desk whether it's at a local college in the suburbs where students drew a Mason-Dixon line and said people couldn't cross it and hung a Confederate flag out the window. This is not something that is either old or new so to speak. It's done years ago and it's been done in the last year since.

 

Aaron Freiwald: Well right. And you know as I do and I can't help myself. I did some reading to prepare for you coming in today and for this conversation. And it's too easy to find Data and horrible examples to support exactly what you're saying and and prominently against Jews you know and acts of anti-Semitism defacing of graves gravestones at cemeteries. There was a you know a devastating example of that in the Philadelphia area last year but also against Muslims you know spray painting anti Muslim language on mosques against Sikhs against gays against.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: Yes.

 

Aaron Freiwald:  You know other other religious minorities in our country. So and I know ADL tracks that data and you can tell us and I know you will how what trends we're seeing in terms of hate crimes before and since Charlottesville. But I think what your saying what I'm hearing is that there was something different about Charlottesville in that there were elements from all of these different hating people and hate groups that came together in one place and one time. That's not something we've seen very often in this country.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: No. And I think people have spent the whole year talking about so why why did it happen. What what are the reasons. And there are a number. First of all our society is at this point in time so divided that it's hard for us to agree on almost anything. And when there is such divisiveness it's easier for people to rise up. In addition there's no question that the white supremacists have felt more emboldened since the election in 2016. There was and not only the white supremacists. Because if you look at incidents that occurred the day after the election in 2016 they skyrocketed. They skyrocketed across the country I mean we have many examples here in our region but there is no question that the numbers were high all over. But in addition I think we're seeing a rise in either incidence or the reporting of incidents because I think people are also more concerned they're more aware since Charlottesville and hopefully more concerned and feel the need to come forward and they feel the need to seek out help when an incident occurs or at least make people aware. So that also will indicate a rise. We can also look at the fact that people like to copycat you know when they see something that commands a lot of attention maybe I want to do the same thing. And perhaps one of the most important reasons of all is social media the internet the fact that you know years ago when you said something bad about someone or you did something it could take days until the post office delivered the letter or you said it in the schoolyard and one person heard you. Today whatever you say whatever you do by pressing a couple of buttons can reach thousands if not millions of people in an extraordinarily short period of time.

 

Aaron Freiwald: Right. Now we have to talk about social media and we talk about social media in our house all the time when it comes to this and so many other ways that social media is influencing the way we relate to one another. But you know. One of the things that I think is is too easy is and I'm not defending the president when I say this by any means but we had hate we had expressions of racism. We had expressions of intolerance and hatred towards gays and lesbians in our country. Before anyone ever thought about Trump being president there you know President Obama the first African-American president was the target of a lot of racist cartoons and people sending e-mails and demonstrating and I remember an incident outside the Capitol where they were spitting on people as they were going into the Congress. And you know a woman running for president would also. It could and did incite not incite but be it a focal point for those who want to express hatred hatred because of because of a woman you know daring to run for president. So it seems like there's something about our time and I'm not saying the president is helping matters with tweeting and some of the things he says at his rallies. But there's something about our time that would bring these people together in one place in Charlottesville.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: And I would go back maybe to that emboldenment. When even though prejudice and racism and anti-Semitism etcetera or Islamophobia existed for years and years and years they were always called out at the highest levels of society. The president the Congress when they heard something they would say something. And when you have a president who uses negative terms in his tweeting or in his speeches against women against immigrants against you know others Muslims that enables individuals who held the beliefs that they held for years and years to feel like he can say it. I can say it publicly. The differences that they were coming out of the shadows not that they're holding different beliefs. It's what they're doing with their beliefs and they're translating it into words and into action. And when a president after Charlottesville said there are good people on both sides and the head of Homeland Security makes a comment about let's not talk about you know the good and bad on both sides kind of thing and references it again. It makes people feel that hey we can be out there. We don't have to stay in the shadows.

 

Aaron Freiwald: Well which I think is going to force us to really focus on the way the media has changed since the way social media has changed too. Because I mean let's face it we might have known it but we we certainly didn't know it in quite the detail that we know it with the benefit of history. But Richard Nixon was an antisemite. Richard Nixon took many steps to take advantage of people who were afraid of changes in our society. You know the civil rights movement the women's movement others to express himself just as you said it was done in private. He didn't go out in front of large groups of people and and say hateful things about Jews. But he said them in private. Many people you know expressed anti Catholic sentiment when JFK ran for president. So we.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: No question.

 

Aaron Freiwald: As you've said there's no doubt there's nothing new about these currents in our society and maybe more so than ever because of the changes. And you know we know that the population of our country in a matter of months if not a couple of years is no longer going to be majority white because of changes that have come about through immigration and so on.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: And some of those things in fact the change in population is part of what has put the fear in the white supremacists back in the old in the good old days and in their book. The reason it's called white supremacy is because they they were supreme in their minds. It was a question of being dominant and being in control and that's a feeling that they had. But as our society becomes more and more diverse that means that the White aspect of this society is not as prominent. And so today the White Supremacists are fighting really for their in their opinion albeit not the right opinion. For just preservation there is a big difference between domination and preservation. And so for them when they see that the society in the next couple months or years is going to become a majority non-white. There's fear and that means they must act. That's a reason. When there is more and more Muslims in America and they view that as a threat they must act when they hear a Jew doing something or saying something they have to act because again Jews aren't considered white either. So they're in that population white supremacist are pretty equal haters. We we just in fact put out a large report on white supremacy and misogyny and how the treatment of women in their society. Or the bad treatment of women occurs.

 

Aaron Freiwald: So how do we understand this then because you know the Charlottesville demonstrations and violence that followed start as legal case the right to speech and we we've talked about that on this podcast and I promised you we're not going to turn this into a dissertation on the constitutional law in the first amendment but but it does start as a as a free speech issue and to some extent we harken back to Nazis demonstrating in the very prominently Jewish neighborhood of Chicago in Skokie Illinois in the 1970s. And so where does ADL stand on on that. And then I think we have to differentiate between speech and what is really not speech but is violence.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: Correct. Correct. Well what I didn't mention in the beginning is the work that ADL does to preserve the First Amendment and every piece of the First Amendment. We are tremendous advocates of freedom of religion freedom of speech freedom of assembly which is all those things that occurred in Charlottesville. But we are working very hard because I think especially when it comes to technology the question of what speech should be free and what speech should be termed hateful and perhaps not permitted by the technology companies is an issue that's being grappled with on many different levels. We just this year created a center on technology and society. And so that's part of the work that we're doing. We just did a project with Berkeley on how you can use artificial intelligence to perhaps recognize hate speech to help some of these platforms then decide how they might deal with it. I mean this is just a project in process. But there's all kinds of fascinating work being done.

 

Aaron Freiwald: Right and that just seems like a whole other hornet's nest you know we're really talking about the power that individuals have that they never had before because they can access Twitter they can access Facebook or what have you. Social media gives them a platform but then you have the platforms themselves. And what are their responsibilities. And might they overreach in those responsibilities in editing what speech is allowed on Facebook or what speech is allowed. You know we're talking about Alex Jones and Info Wars now being booted from twitter and booted from Facebook and so on is. But in some ways it seems like what happened in Charlottesville is  more conventional in some ways because these are people as long as they are not violent. We'd have to say have a right to.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: Assemble of course.

 

Aaron Freiwald: Assemble and hold signs and even shout very ugly and hateful things.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: No question.

 

Aaron Freiwald: That's not the that's not really the point at all here.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: No. And we know that in Charlottesville unlike for instance what happened in D.C. on the anniversary of Charlottesville albeit a much much smaller crowd the law enforcement in Charlottesville was perhaps not prepared in the sense of the importance to keep the Antifa the protesters against the white supremacists separate from the white supremacist and that's something we always always advise. You know.

 

Aaron Freiwald: You're referring to Antifa the anti fascist counter demonstrators.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: Yes. Yes.

 

Aaron Freiwald: OK.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: Or any other kind of counter protesters can happen when you've got the Westboro Baptist Church which is a notorious hate group in the United States and people who want to protest them. We often suggest to people that you don't give the attention to those that are protesting what might have happened if people had gathered in a separate place and held their own rally with their own speakers and their own messaging. Certainly media would have been had to divide themselves. Divide and conquer. But it takes away from the power of those white supremacists let's say or the Westboro Baptist Church that may come because they really want the attention.

 

Aaron Freiwald: Right. So all that energy would have just been kept separate.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: It would have been somewhat dissipated.

 

Aaron Freiwald: Or not clash to the extent that it that it did. So that's really police law enforcement criticism is that.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: Suggestion.

 

Aaron Freiwald: Is that part of when you work with law enforcement groups is that part of.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: A suggestion we would make. Yes I mean we certainly have backgrounders let's say on groups like Westboro Baptist Church which the listeners may or may not know who they are. It's a it's a small hate group mostly comprised of family members started by a lawyer who is very good in fact with the first amendment because he knows exactly exactly what the law is. And when other people overstep he then can bring a suit make enough money to go fly into another protest somewhere else. But they employ their young children. They can be as young as four five six with signs that say and they're very religious. God hates Jews God Hates Fags God hates the military they'll protest at military funerals and come up with some reason why they protested it. Vice President Biden's son's.

 

Aaron Freiwald: I remember that.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: Funeral so that's much of their claim to fame. But in our backgrounder we talk about what you can do if they come to your place so to speak. I mean they've been here many times. And that includes we say not to give them the attention. That's all they want not to hold something right with them. Do your own thing. We often say you can make lemonade from lemons you know you can hold a fundraiser somewhere else and save for every minute those guys are out on the street corner. I'm going to collect money and it's going to go to X or Y the kinds of things that they're there to oppose. So maybe it's LGBTQ rights organization or a Jewish organization or an African-American organization etc.. And there are things that people can do that help them feel more empowered.

 

Aaron Freiwald: Well that's sort of in the same vein as the way to defeat hate speech or speech that you don't even just speech you don't agree with.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: More good speech.

 

Aaron Freiwald: Is more just good speech bad speech with good speech. But then of course we know Charlottesville wasn't just about people exercising the right even to voice hateful thoughts or abhorrent thoughts and ideas. But but it did turn violent. And so. So what do we understand because it seems like after Charlottesville the focus is that much more intense. I mean I know ADL as been focused on this for many years but as a country we're now talking about this in a different way since Charlottesville perhaps with a greater focus and maybe that's a very good thing. But what do you see going on in terms of hate crimes the violence that can accompany hateful speech. What are the trends we're seeing.

 

Aaron Freiwald: And just before I get to that you know there have been changes since Charlottesville as far as the white supremacist movement. You know when all their faces were exposed down there there were individuals who were arrested for outstanding warrants afterwards. There were individuals who were fired from their jobs because they were not found to possess whatever it was wherever they worked. That was necessary. There's been a lot of infighting. You know they came together for a day but a lot of infighting which is why in Washington D.C. a week ago we couldn't they couldn't amass any kind of protest that was even remotely close to what it was media social media sites as you said have been dropping people. They've been doxd and people aren't sure what Doxing is

 

Aaron Freiwald: No idea.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: Oh ok. Doxing is where your information about you. Your personal information is shared online. So when people recognized individuals at that march at that rally some people took to the social media to expose them through giving away their personal information and giving them in some ways a taste of their own medicine because that's often what they do. Yes it is like outing you know. But when we get to hate crimes and hate incidents there certainly has been an increase over the last couple of years. No question but I think we should maybe talk about the difference between a hate incident and a hate crime.

 

Aaron Freiwald: Ok. What is that difference.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: So a hate incident is something that we consider free speech if we're back to the Free Speech category. It is biased and bigoted and prejudiced but it's not threatening. It could be someone just walks by and says I hate gays I hate blacks. You know you're the scum of the earth whatever some statement like that but not threatening in the sense of not saying I want to kill all or I want to harm all. That's a hate incident and that's considered free speech hanging something up at your house. The Confederate flag a swastika or a Nazi flag that's hateful and it's a hate incident. But you have the right to do that.

 

Aaron Freiwald: Just as someone wants to put a no hate here sign on their lawn.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: Absolutely.

 

Aaron Freiwald: Right.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: Or politician signs on their lawn. It's free speech.

 

Aaron Freiwald: Right. So where does that how do we know when it crosses over then into something that is considered at least something potentially that could be prosecuted under the law as a hate crime.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: So forty five states and the District of Columbia have hate crime laws. Pennsylvania is one of them. We can get to where the good and the bad are of Pennsylvania's in a bit but the difference is that a hate crime is an action that's motivated by prejudice and bigotry. It's not just the hanging of a sign on your house or something like that. You have to have a malicious intention against a certain covert group of people race religion national origin. And it might be harassment. It might be assault. It could be murder. It could be rape. And what that means is that you need to have an underlying crime. You are not punished because of the beliefs in your head. You can hate anyone you want have your own personal conversations about it but if you take that conversation and you take to the streets and you do something about it. Then it's a crime. Probably the most famous case was Wisconsin v. Mitchell. It was a Supreme Court case years ago and the the facts were very interesting. There were a number of black teenagers who had just seen the movie Mississippi Burning which is a terrible movie and it talks about prejudice against blacks and they were angry and they were riled up and they said something to the effect let's find us a white guy. You know that's not the direct quote. And they found someone and they beat him. And I believe he went into a coma and may have been brain dead. And then when arrested and charged with a hate crime. The one teenager who is I guess the most responsible said this is I was just exercising freedom of speech you can't you can't convict me on this. And Rehnquist was the person who wrote the opinion and made it very clear that we are not punishing your thoughts we're punishing your behavior. And that was the landmark case.

 

Aaron Freiwald: So that. So in other words if they had just assaulted somebody for any old reason. That happens every day. That would have been.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: An assault.

 

Aaron Freiwald: An ordinary assault case. But the fact that they did it with the motivation they had. Now it gets characterized as a hate crime.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: Correct.

 

Aaron Freiwald: If somebody were to if somebody were to steal something from a synagogue or a mosque that might just be ordinary theft. But if it's if you steal a Torah scroll or write and leave behind you know an anti-semitic you know image or words on them on the wall of the synagogue that it will become something different or you know when the police investigate if they go to your home and they find a ton of material books and tattoos and this and that and that could could help indicate a bias on intent that might have occurred you know in Chicago there was a terrible crime against an individual who had a disability. They group of teens took this young man and they tied him to a radiator and they made him drink toilet water and they did all kinds of things to him and left him there. And it was because he had a disability. That was the motivation and that was found through investigation. Here in Pennsylvania that could not be brought under our hate crime statute.

 

Aaron Freiwald: Because it doesn't cover crimes where the motivation is to target someone with disabilities.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: Correct.

 

Aaron Freiwald: OK.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: In Pennsylvania we have a statute we're one of the 45 we're not one of the five. But at this point in time and we have a storied history because for a few years there it did cover everything but we're missing gender gender identity sexual orientation disability. None of those things are covered here in Pennsylvania. And we have been trying for 10 years.

 

Aaron Freiwald: Why is that important. In other words if somebody were to assault a gay or lesbian person in Pennsylvania they could be convicted of assault. But you're saying it couldn't be. Also that person couldn't also be charged with a hate crime if it meant otherwise the elements of a crime. Why is it important that that be something additionally that that person in that situation would be charged with. Why should hate crimes include. Why should I guess is really I Guess that's really I have to back up to that question. Why should there be hate crimes at all or what's the good that can come from that.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: Well we believe that hate crimes are a very unusual kind of crime when I'm assaulted on the street. My wallets taken and it's just because I was walking on Market Street at the wrong time in the wrong place. I'm going to feel terrible. But it's not because it was not done because I'm me. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. A hate crime specificly targets an individual because of who they are because of things that they can't change. I can't change my color. If I'm disabled my religion etc. It's something that's just me and it doesn't just affect the individual in fact because what happens when there's a hate crime is that other people in the community feel afraid. So if I'm pick pocketed on Market Street. All women or all Jewish women or all lawyers are not going to be afraid but when there's an action where people are targeted because of who they are that we have found there is no question that there is worry and anxiety in the community.

 

Aaron Freiwald: What I want to try to turn our conversation to what can be done. I know one thing that you would like to see done is to expand hate crimes in Pennsylvania but that's it's not going to happen anytime soon in this.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: Not not in our state.

 

Aaron Freiwald: So I was on the Web site on the ADL website and there's that there's an article there that says the headline 10 things you can do to combat hate and of course one of them is go to ADL and learn more about what the work that you're doing. I know that's.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: www.ADL.org.

 

Aaron Freiwald: There you go. But I was really intrigued by the fourth item on the list which is engage in respectful dialogue to build understanding among people with different views. And again this is something we talk about in our house all the time. And to some extent maybe it may seem naive to say well let's be let's all be respectful when you're talking about people who are waving swastika banners and and spewing hatred but they're it does seem to me and I want to I want to know what you think about this. In a world where we have such open access to social media and it's so easy from the shelter of your bedroom where you're typing onto your computer onto your phone and hitting send and you don't have to even confront the person directly. How easy it is to say unkind things and even hateful things. And for that to become part of our culture the intolerance that we see today on all sides on both extremes. I mean if you know if I start to hear in conversation or on facebook or wherever somebody espousing extreme views and I have heard those extreme views on both sides you know our president is a lightning rod for this. You know you love him you hate him but there's no real conversation that you can have when you're talking to an extremist or someone who is committed to extreme views. So how do we see this as not naive but that is something that really is crucial to dealing with the kind of hate that that we see not only from extremist groups like white supremacists and neo nazis but from anybody who's intolerant of other people. How how do we actually put that into daily life.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: I'm glad you asked that question because that brings us to the education component of what ADL does and we believe that nobody is born hating. That's not how we're born. Hate is learned. And therefore if we start with our youngest children and in fact we have facilitators and trainers today doing an early childhood anti bias education program for a school district right here. So we start at two or three years old and all the way up and if we can have those conversations with our children if we can have both in our homes. But if not in our homes because perhaps the parents aren't as open as the children might be than in our schools or as grownups in our workplaces. You know there are a lot of diversity initiatives in workplaces and it's a good idea not to silo them. So yes you have a women's group but the women's group it might be very beneficial for that women's group to interact with the LGBTQ Group and the black group and the whatever other group that's there the Muslim group. But we do all kinds of both curriculum and conversational pieces and tabletop exercises including one sadly which goes to where we are in today's day and age called How to Talk to your children in the aftermath of hate. So by going to that Web site there are actually free curriculum for teachers on everything from the march to Selma to current events that have just occurred in the news. Perhaps about a Muslim hate crime or perhaps about. I remember we actually did one on women after the young woman here in Philadelphia became part of the boys little league team. So we take good news as well as obviously the bad news and convert it to places that people can learn from. And so if we do that with our youth that's really our hope. I believe.

 

Aaron Freiwald: You know Philadelphia is not exactly what you would consider pro Trump country. I mean this is you know Philadelphia is heavily Democratic you know voted overwhelmingly in the last election for Clinton over Trump we're.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: In Philadelphia.

 

Aaron Freiwald: That's what I'm getting to where you know when you get out to Montgomery County Chester You know the counties around Philadelphia. This is true of urban centers around the country. You know Chicago is you know votes very Democratic but around Chicago are counties in Illinois that vote very differently. This was true in Ohio in the recent election. So you look around the country and that's true. I'm wondering you know the the outreach that you're talking about the education the getting people together have conversation and try to have a better understanding because ignorance I think is a big contributor to hatred. You know I worry about intolerance that would lead someone also to say for example all Trump voters are racists or stupid or you know in other words lumping this huge and diverse group of people who may have voted for President Trump for a whole variety of reasons. You know putting them in us in a silo as you said. You know Brene Brown you know sociologist talks about sorting. You know you look at somebody and you sort them into a box and you just associate all these characteristics with that person. But you're not really knowing that person and therefore you can't really have real conversation. You know how do you reach out to you know across the lines. I don't know that you're ever going to have a real conversation of meaning with the folks that carry torches in Charlottesville a year ago. Maybe if they come to see the light and recant and you know.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: And there are those that have.

 

Aaron Freiwald: And there are in there and they can be very influential but you know there's this huge middle between the extremes in our society. How do you reach across those lines to have these types of conversations to have this type of building of respect and understanding among people.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: So communities can certainly through libraries through a mayor's office through a city council begin to hold gatherings and facilitated discussions with people with ground rules with an understanding of where the conversation what the conversation is about. I know at ADL after many years we recently started a black Jewish Alliance of ADL and we started a program in that group that is going out to churches and synagogues and mosques and it's entitled sharing our story sharing ourselves because we believe deeply that it's really hard to hate someone you learn about. To hate someone you know. So when you hear a story from the African-American individual sitting across from you just a foot or two away where they tell you a story about one time in their life where there was a terrible incident that happened to them because of who they were and one where they are proud of their background and their identity. And then the Jewish person does that you have a whole new understanding for the other and you begin a relationship. And that's really where it has to start at the very ground level. You can't start a conversation about why we should have X politician or Y politician. You have to start at the ground level you have to start with a conversation really about who we are inside or things that have affected us in our life. Before you get to the controversial topics.

 

Aaron Freiwald: Nancy thank you so much. I mean I promised you we wouldn't go past an hour and we're getting up on an hour or so and I could I could talk for another hour about this. There's so much to cover but I hope that people listening will will go to ADL's website. There's a lot information. I was there this morning and we'll put a link to that in the description so they can get background information on you and the things that ADL is doing here and across the country. And I know if I can put in my own personal plug I hope people will really think hard about Item 4 on the list of 10 things to do because I agree we have to we have to figure out how to talk to each other. And and as long as we're staking out these extreme positions and I can't even listen to you and I can't even hear you then there is no common ground. And it becomes an environment where it's too easy to hit the send button on your phone or your computer and say something unkind or worse. And so I think it's important for people to pay attention to that. And I thank you very much for helping us reflect on Charlottesville. And looking ahead to what can be done going forward.

 

Nancy Baron-Baer: Thank you.

 

Aaron Freiwald: Thanks very much.