Speaking to a packed room, the 2018 Feinberg Lecturer Joanna Mendelson captivated the audience with her topic, The Normalization of Hatred and Bigotry – The State of Hate in California.
Mendelson is the senior investigative researcher and director of special projects for the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Center on Extremism. In her role, she provides expertise, analysis, and training that enable law enforcement, public officials, and community leaders to identify and counter emerging extremist threats.
Her timely topic engaged students in conversation and provided insight on issues that are currently highlighted in the media and throughout our communities. She explained that hate groups are now feeling empowered and “boldly speaking out about their views.”
Mendelson ended her remarks speaking directly to the students. “It is up to you guys, as future leaders, to make sure the hatred does not go unanswered,” she said.
“I thought she was really able to put us in the mindset of these criminals and explore the philosophy behind their beliefs,” said philosophy major Cameron Tracey ’20. “This helps us further understand the issue of hate and will make it easier to combat against it.”
The students had insightful questions and wanted to learn more about what they can do to help stop hate. They continued to raise their hands and several of them stayed after the lecture had finished to speak with Mendelson, who stayed until every last student left.
The Feinberg Lecture Series is made possible through an endowment established by the late Sheldon Feinberg, a former trustee of Whittier College, and his wife, Betty, in order to invite major scholars to the College to discuss broad historic, religious, and political issues encompassed by Judaism and its role in a changing world. Previous Feinberg Lecturers include author, speaker, and foreign affairs analyst Professor Kenneth W. Stein, journalist and author Robin Wright, Holocaust historian Deborah E. Lipstadt, former Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell, U.S. Ambassador to Israel and Egypt Daniel C. Kurtzer, Dr. Judea Pearl, and Justice Richard Goldstone, among other notable individuals.