Maybe I just haven’t been paying as much attention until more recently, but I feel as if we as a nation are becoming more accepting of bigotry, prejudice, and/or racism bleeding into our everyday lives.

Maybe it’s just becoming more prominent in the news now because of how much technology has progressed over the years, shining a light on the ugly reality.

I’m not naive enough to think the issue will ever go away. I’m not happy about it, but for various reasons — whether it be because of a person’s upbringing or somehow else — I know it manages to stick around. Still, we as a nation are better than that.

Take the recent occurrence with a New York police officer who was told “go back to your country” because of her religious faith in Islam. Apparently Aml Elsokary, 34, was confronted off duty by a man earlier this month who allegedly said, “ISIS (expletive), I will cut your throat, go back to your country,” and then fled the scene.

The man was later arrested and charged with menacing, a hate crime and aggravated harassment, and rightfully so. All that woman was doing was helping her 16-year-old son, who was arguing with the man for some reason. Without delving too deep into the situation, I obviously don’t know everything because I wasn’t there when it happened, but I can only imagine the man saw she was wearing a hijab and immediately thought the worst.

“I help everybody no matter what your religion is,” Elsokary said at a recent press conference. “I’m born and raised here and I am here to protect you all. The department has supported me in wearing my hijab. I want to thank my Muslim officers for standing by my side.”

Another situation happened last month when some middle-school students in the Detroit area caused a ruckus the day after the presidential election. Fox News reported of a video showing students yelling “build the wall” at Latino students.

How is behavior like that OK to some? I understand “kids will be kids,” but they typically get it from somewhere.

I’m not saying President-elect Donald Trump is the reason for any of this, because it’s gone on long before he entered into the political arena.

Trump has gone on record to disavow such behavior, most notably the “alt-right” movement. In a New York Times interview he condemned such actions.

“It’s not a group I want to energize,” he said to the newspaper. “And if they are energized, I want to look into it and find out why.”

I can only hope he pulls in the reins on this matter to show people it’s not OK to put others down to build themselves up, and that it’s not fine to judge people based on what others have done.

We as a nation are better than to let bigotry, prejudice and racism raise its ugly head. We’ve progressed far too much to have things revert back to how they were years ago.

Jeremy Nash is a reporter and staff writer for the News-Herald. Contact him at 865-986-6581 or by email at jeremy.nash@news-herald.net.