Playful taunts amongst fans and students quickly turned into anti-semitic chants during a basketball game between Catholic Memorial High School and Newton North High School on Friday.
Catholic Memorial students chanted, “You killed Jesus,” to the Newton North players. This is the most recent anti-semitic incident in Newton. Since October, there have been multiple reports of hateful graffiti at Day Middle school and Newton North. Reverends Emmett Price and Irene Monroe joined Boston Public Radio to discuss the episode on another edition of All Revved Up.
“This was tragic. I was so dismayed to hear this, but I have to say this, we are in a climate of just incivility. Where public politeness is no longer considered appropriate behavior,” Irene Monroe said. “There is always a level of taunting when you’re playing a competitive game, but then there is a point where you cross a boundary, and then you’re poking fun at someone for who they are.”
Monroe blames the hateful rhetoric and racism coming from Trump and his supporters for inciting a resurgence of unfiltered intolerance. “This climate of Trump has a lot to do with it. It is not like these kids are in a vacuum and don’t see that. A lot of people see Trump as cool.”
Price agrees with Monroe. “This political season that we are in has seen other incidents of this, so we are heightened by that. You have this scenario where Pandora’s box was wide opened.” Monroe was quick to condemn the student’s actions, but praised the quick response from parents and the Church, apologizing for the students.
Regardless of the current visible increase in racism, anti-semitism may be more of a systemic issue than the Church is willing to admit. Monroe and Price both referred to John 20:19, a passage about the resurrection that says, “So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘ Peace be with you.’”
Some priests have replaced the world “Jews” with “crowd” to avoid being anti-semitic. Monroe says this is not enough though. A real change will not take place until the Church recognizes its racist origins. “We either try to clean it up or we make it inclusive and not deal with the reality of what it is,” Monroe said.