It seems like every bad economic indicator adds fuel to the fire of racism.
When the economy is booming, the perceived financial security tends to keep people from expressing the racist feelings they harbor.
But once unemployment creeps up, people express those feelings much more openly.
In his book "Whale Talk," author Chris Crutcher wrote, "Racist thought and action says far more about the person they come from than the person they are directed at."
In America, that reveals itself with complaints about affirmative action programs that benefit minorities. Hispanics also receive more than their fair share of hate because they come into the country legally or illegally and "take our jobs" - because so many Americans who got laid off from $40,000-a-year jobs are standing in line to pick lettuce or do manual labor for less than minimum wage.
But racism's ugly head has more than a white American face. The Greeks know something about bad economies and racism.
Unfortunately for one Greek athlete, the Olympic spotlight was looking for somewhere to shine while waiting for the games to begin and she stupidly stumbled into it thanks to Twitter. What is it about those 140 characters that make people grab verbal shoehorns and try to squeeze in as much ignorance and hate as possible into every tweet?
Voula Papachristou is a triple jumper who was one of the better Greek athletes. Hopefully, she is one of their worst people.
Her offending tweet went like this, "With so many Africans in Greece ... at least the West Nile mosquitos will eat homemade food!!!"
How droll. Homemade food ... hilarious!
I hope she is a better jumper than a she is a comedienne.
Papachistou's humor fell on deaf ears in her country's contingency in London. When you are asking all of Europe to prop up your failing economy, the last thing you want is a triple jumper offending about half of the planet.
This woman is not a lone wolf coming up with her own racist hate jokes. She is parroting the language pervading much of Europe. The immigration of Muslims from various north African countries and other Africans into Europe has been going on for years. However, as the economies in Europe began to stagnate and falter, hate has exploded.
Professional soccer games have been played in empty stadiums in Italy because the racist hate was so extreme that violence was not possible, it was expected.
Don't think racism has been absent from the home of this year's Olympic Games. The English Premier League featured four arrests or suspensions due to racist acts in 2012 alone. In fact, the captain of the English National team was caught on tape hurling racial epithets.
Page 2 of 2 - We won't even discuss the Germans except to criticize the creativity of their racists who make monkey faces at black players and go with n-word slams and spit on players of color.
But Americans and our European forefathers aren't the only ones who are bent toward using color, culture or class as a means of denigrating others.
Unfortunately, the response of putting people down to somehow elevate yourself seems to be instinctual if illogical.
Racism is a response to fear, ignorance and insecurity. When those stimuli overwhelm someone's ability to behave normally, a group of people who look and act different than them makes a good target for the rage inside them.
"Every miserable fool who has nothing at all of which he can be proud, adopts as a last resource pride in the nation to which he belongs; he is ready and happy to defend all its faults and follies tooth and nail, thus reimbursing himself for his own inferiority," said author Arthur Schopenhauer, in his work "Essays and Aphorisms."
Racism is an attempt to exhibit power.
It is good to see people punishing those who lash out at others based on race, culture or religion.
Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, "Ignorance and prejudice are the handmaidens of propaganda. Our mission, therefore, is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity. Racism can, will, and must be defeated."
It has taken generations and sometimes it seems like we take two steps forward and one step back. But we are making progress.