On May 2 IREHR Advisory Board member and researcher Chuck Tanner presented at the inaugural Natalie Mayer Holocaust and Genocide Studies Lecture at Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) in Tacoma, Washington. Natalie Mayer, whose father Kurt escaped Nazi Germany in 1940, endowed the lecture to address the recent rise in anti-Semitic incidents in the United States and to “connect the past genocides to the bigotry and hatred of today’s world.” The Mayer family has been a leader in promoting Holocaust studies at PLU. PLU offers a minor in Holocaust and Genocide Studies.’
IREHR’s Tanner was a respondent to a presentation by Dr. Lid King titled “The Language of Hate: Developing a Counter-narrative to Internet Hate Speech.” Dr. King was Director of the National Centre for Languages (CILT) in the United Kingdom from 1992-2003, National Director for Languages in England from 2003 to 2011 and the founder in 2008 of the Languages Company. Dr. King has advised the European Commission, Council of Europe and national governments on language policy and multilingualism, including Positive Messengers, a European Commission-supported consortium of 8 organizations and 7 countries that works to develop counter-narratives to online bigotry.
Tanner’s presentation discussed the importance of challenging online bigotry in a period in which social media has become a key tool of organized racists and a frequent venue of open bigotry by individuals. He stressed the importance of recognizing that the organized racist movement is ultimately driven by nationalist worldviews and a quest for political power; and, that that efforts to counter them must occur both on and offline in all arenas in which they attempt to recruit. Tanner discussed the important role of bringing academy and community together to challenge open expressions of bigotry as well as the language that white nationalist “mainstreamers” use to mask their goals. The presentation by Dr. King and Mr. Tanner sparked excellent questions from the audience and a fruitful discussion between presenters and attendees.