Hungarian Camerawoman’s Attack on Immigrants Is a Chilling Reminder of the Dangers of Intolerance

Hungarian camerawoman Petra Laszlo’s attack of a refugee and child yesterday has brought about international condemnation of widespread indifference to the plight of refugees. Ms. Laszlo was fired from her job. Not surprisingly, Ms. Laszlo is affiliated with the Jobbik party, a Hungarian right-wing group that espouses anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic views.

We hope that if nothing else, the viral video showing Ms. Laszlo’s violent behavior leads to more soul-searching in our own country. Nativist groups in America tend to speak in code rather than use ethnic slurs. However, like the spread of anti-Semitic hatred in Nazi Germany, the hate-filled code words often serve as veneers for intolerance. These phrases are sometimes referred to as “dog-whistle” politics – euphemisms whose offensive meanings are familiar to a politician’s base but are watered down for public consumption.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has been vocal in calling right-wing groups to the carpet for using racist code words and for embracing even the most ardent anti-Semites and racists in their midst. On its website, the ADL sheds light on connections that exist between various anti-immigration lobbying groups that have regrettably acquired mainstream status in Washington DC and white supremacists. For example, according to the ADL, the “Federation for American Immigration Reform” (FAIR) manages to maintain the illusion of respectability while aligning itself with hate mongers. On its website, FAIR (which is one of several organizations that was founded by white nationalist John Tanton) promotes falsehoods that have been used to denigrate minorities from the beginning of time to wit: that immigrants are a strain on the environment, take away jobs, and rely on welfare. In fact, none of those accusations is true. America’s immigrant population has always been (and continues to be) the engine that drives our nation’s creativity, prosperity and growth. Immigrants –documented and undocumented alike – literally put food on American tables.

The attorneys at Rapaport Law Firm offer our deep support for the ADL’s efforts to stamp-out intolerance. We call upon all of our clients, colleagues, and readers of this blog to view and treat all people as human beings, and to cease using hate-filled rhetoric, such as the slurs “illegals” and “anchor babies”. As employment lawyers, we have observed that commonly-heard slurs leach into the workplace and create hostile workplaces. The New York employment lawyers at Rapaport Law Firm work in lower Manhattan, within a stone’s throw of the Statue of Liberty, with its poem New Colossus that famously bears the words:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

We urge all Americans to abide by the letter and spirit of these profound words. These are the sentiments and ideas that transformed American into the greatest nation the world has ever witnessed. America is defined by the importance that our great nation places on welcoming people (like our ancestors) who arrived on our shores in need. These principles have served America well in the past, and are crucial to our future success.

The views expressed in this posting are those of Marc A. Rapaport. Mr. Rapaport has practiced civil law for more than two decades. He is the founder and managing member of Rapaport Law Firm, PLLC.

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