During a business flight to Nevada, the passenger in the middle seat had a thick Russian accent. My traveler’s curiosity kicked in, I asked her where she was from, her response “Kiev, Ukraine, Russia” she went on to say Russia is a big country and when she was a child, Stalin had forced her Jewish family to move around, they were never welcome in one place very long. She said, honestly since Russia is a big country she was from all of it! In her own words, “Stalin shuttled our people across the country,” this brought a noticeable sadness in her voice.
During the same flight two seats forward and across the aisle from me was a middle age man who had Nazi swastika tattoos visible on both his arms; I found it so distressful that this person would willingly place such offensive tattoos in plain sight for all to see. We as a nation place so much emphasis on hatred from citizens from other nations that we forget to look at ourselves. I understand that we have a right to freedom of speech, but what happens when the free speech and symbolism represent hatred? I wonder if freedom of speech means freedom to openly offend other people.
Perhaps the first step, to understanding why we in the United States can openly offend people under the cover of freedom of speech; maybe to simply acknowledge that it occurs and then find a way to do the complete opposite is enough!