The 1995 short documentary film “The Shadow of Hate" reflects on racism. (Image courtesy of "The Shadow of Hate" / Charles Guggenheim)
Los Altos High School

Review: ‘The Shadow of Hate’ documentary warns against violence of racism

The 1995 documentary film “The Shadow of Hate” expressed the history of oppression, discrimination, violence, and hate in America.

The narrator begins with a scene in Pennsylvania on a summer day in 1925 in which 40,000 American Klansmen gather together to declare their hatred toward Catholics, Negros and Jews. This is only one of many horrific events that cast a dark shadow of hate in the nation’s history toward other religions and races and much more. The list goes on.

For America, it all started from the very beginning, when the first European settlers landed in the New World to escape religious persecution from their homeland. Later, they were found to be dealing in slavery for the next 200 years. The pain inflicted kept growing since the beginnings of America.

The Europeans in 1656 persecuted Quakers as they were also whipped, imprisoned, banished, and branded, according to “The Shadow of Hate.” Brutal actions were made toward the minorities the people hated including persons of color and those following other religions. The shadow of hate born from the beginning never disappeared.

A well-known incident in the U.S. was the murder of a young white girl, Mariette Georgia who went to an empty factory to attain her paycheck, according to the documentary. There were two civilians in the factory at the time of her murder — one was a Jew named Leo Frank.

All hands were pointed at the Jew even without any valid evidence, the documentary reflected. The population of the Americans wanted to lynch Jews. They were convinced death was the only option, according to the documentary. All Jewish people including men and women, young or old were targeted. The Americans wanted them all imprisoned, tortured, and dead.

Another prime example mentioned would be the unlawful behavior toward the Japanese immigrants in 1900. They were a key factor of transforming American agriculture in the west, according to “The Shadow of Hate.” As successful people in the area, they were denied rights to become American citizens — just because of their race. They could not be naturalized citizens. Generations after generations received the same treatment.

When war broke out between the U.S. and Japan, the U.S. shipped over 100,000 people with Japanese ancestry to the middle of the desert into internment camps (into custody). They were treated poorly — little food and water was provided in over-cramped living quarters, according to the documentary. Many of them lost everything — their freedoms, businesses and personal belongings.

Many viewers can agree, America’s history is very ironic due to the fact the first Europeans were seeking safety from unjust actions but end up hurting others. The video may be exaggerated, crazy, and scary to some. Nevertheless, this video was true. This started from the very beginning, but the fights are not over. Everyone is facing discrimination in some way or the other.

Terrible things happen but many do little about it. Some examples can be bullying at school. This may seem like nothing compared to wars and slavery. However, it is a form of hurting another. Pain is inflicted. Another example is sexual orientation and sexism.

It is among both women and men. People are always trying to find the weak spots in people to break or exploit them. People categorize others, believing one is more supreme and important compared to another. It is very embarrassing to see kids to adults to leaders of country all act in a similar way: being selfish and lacking empathy. Many are blindsided, knowing very little of another.

Mark Twain once said, “A nation is in great peril from those who actively watch evil than those who actively practice it,” according to GoodReads. Individually, someone should be taking initiative to end racism and injustices by bringing awareness.

That is the first step. Knowing the situation and surroundings wins half the battle. The next step is taking responsibility and responding to the problem. Being a bystander is worse than not being involved. Twain alludes to the fact witnesses, no matter who they are must communicate, step up and fight for what is right for everyone. The world already has enough close-minded and selfish people. The nation is in great danger is not one person opens their eyes to the truth.