When I read that Gene Rosen had taken in six children who had escaped the slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary, I was a little worried for him. He brought the children into his home, listened to their stories, handed them stuffed animals, and tried to contact their parents. I was afraid a few misguided people would accuse him of being "inappropriate" with children. After all, aren't we always telling our kids not to enter a stranger's home? But these were extraordinary circumstances. And if my child had been in that semi-circle of children, I would have wanted an adult to shelter him just as Gene did.
It turns out there has been a backlash against Rosen. But it's far worse and far weirder than what I'd feared.
You may have heard about the cruel Sandy Hook "Truther" movement. These are people who believe in a conspiracy theory that the heartbreaking attacks did not actually happen. It's hard to believe that anyone could entertain such a sick notion. But it's a big country with a surprisingly large number of sick and gullible people.
Because Gene Rosen was willing to speak publicly about the events in Newtown, he's become a target of the "Truther's" bullying. And it's caused the retired psychologist emotional distress.
I don’t know what to do. I’m getting hang up calls, I’m getting some calls, I’m getting emails with, not direct threats, but accusations that I’m lying, that I’m a crisis actor, ‘how much am I being paid’?
A photo of Rosen's house has been posted online. There are growing numbers of videos and blog posts claiming to expose his "fraud." The harassment has gotten so bad, Rosen admits he's starting to feel emotions he'd long manged to avoid feeling -- like rage.
And I am rageful about it, both for the children and for the mother of the child who came to my house looking for her son and I wanted to look at this guy [a man at a restaurant who claimed the shooting was a hoax] and I wanted to just fucking decimate him. That’s my rage.
It's shocking to hear someone talk like this, but it also says a lot about how he must be feeling right now. As if the trauma of the event itself hasn't been difficult enough for him -- now he's being harassed? For sheltering terrorized children?!? It's just so fucking sad that there are Americans so devoted to their insane conspiracy theories and their political agenda that they totally lose all sense of compassion.
One horrifying day of violence is rippling out into countless smaller acts of cruelty. How heartbreaking to see this tragedy bringing out the worst in some of us. Fortunately, Rosen is also hearing from sane people who thank him for sheltering the children. I think in the months ahead, the rest of us just need to work harder to make sure our words and acts of compassion ring out louder.
Are you surprised that people are harassing Gene Rosen, or did you see that coming?
Image via AOL On