• by

Greenblatt champions the ADL’s work and causes in a “handbook against hate” that often reads like a promotional vehicle for the civil rights organization. In addition to adapting previously published ADL materials, he writes, “I’ve also borrowed text freely from ADL without attribution.” This approach works well when he is describing unique tools or resources developed by the ADL, such as its “Pyramid of Hate,” which posits that bigotry occurs in five progressively worse stages that can overlap: “biased attitudes,” “acts of bias,” “systemic discrimination,” “bias-motivated violence,” and “genocide.” But Greenblatt’s free hand with warmed-over text and ideas can lead to mind-numbing clichés and corporate jargon in chapters intended to offer practical tips on promoting tolerance or overcoming hate in a range of everyday situations: at work, at home, on social media, in communities or religious groups, and elsewhere. For example, the author writes that companies seeking to respond responsibly to hate “would do well to implement initiatives consistent with their core competencies and operational design.” Such tedious passages clash with Greenblatt’s biting comments on topics such as the Palestinian cause or the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement’s “anti-normalization” stance, which “essentially criminalizes Zionism.” The author’s discussions of the discrimination faced by Jews and others such as Black or transgender people can also elide differences in their lived experiences. More persuasive and enlightening accounts of the spread of hate—and worthy responses to it—have recently appeared in Géraldine Schwarz’s Those Who Forget and Mark Oppenheimer’s Squirrel Hill. Either book would make a better introduction to the alarming resurgence of antisemitism and other forms of bigotry in the U.S. and elsewhere. Readers could also return to Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *