ORLANDO — The Great Recession brought terrible hardship to millions of people, and R.T. Robeson is no exception.
The Orlando man thought he had it all by his late 40s, but the recession took everything he had — his job, his savings, his home, car, even his cat. As he struggles to find employment, he also tries desperately to hold onto his dignity.
Things eventually turn around for Robeson: he finds a new, lower paying job, and a tiny apartment that is affordable on his new salary. But something else has changed. In a society that has seen its wealth and opportunities wiped away, there are some who look for scapegoats. In the minds of the most twisted among them, those scapegoats are easy to find.
Freeline Productions’ novel “Bloody Rabbit” explores the rise of anti-Semitism following a devastating economic crash — seen through the eyes of a man who now finds himself being targeted, and stalked, by someone who believes one specific group can be blamed for this ongoing economic misery: the Jews.
The book, which is available on Amazon.com and has also been released on Kindle, available to download in eBook form, comes out at a time when European nations like England, France and Germany are coping with a disturbing rise in anti-Semitic violence. In the past year that has included angry, menacing mobs of protestors chanting slogans like “Death to Jews” and “Slit Jews’ throats.” In just the past few months, eight synagogues in France got attacked, while in Germany, Molotov cocktails were thrown into the Bergische Synagogue in Wuppertal – and in a painfully ironic fact, that’s a building previously destroyed on Kristallnacht in the Nazi era.
Today, some of France’s half-million Jews are contemplating leaving the country following the Jan. 9 attack on a kosher market in Saint-Mande that was the final bloody stop by radical Islamist extremists who butchered 17 people, including much of the staff at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
French Jewish groups and the French government report that between January and July 2014, the number of anti-Semitic acts almost doubled compared to the same period in 2013, and half of all racist attacks in France target Jews — who number less than 1 percent of the population.
Jews were being attacked by radical Islamic activists long before the Jan. 9 kosher market murders.
For the author, this disturbing trend was reflected in a far more personal way late last year.
On Dec. 27, Freeline Media editor and “Bloody Rabbit” author Michael W. Freeman got an email at work titled “Stop The Real ISIS and Al Qaeda – the Dangerous Jews.”
The lengthy and hate-filled letter was sent to Freeman’s work email just a few weeks after Freeman had written several articles about the Holocaust Memorial Recource and Education Center in Maitland.
In addition to calling for the execution of Jews, the letter writer also connected Jews to the gay rights movement.
“The Jews have brought homosexuality out of the closet and into our faces through numerous ‘rights’ legislations,” the letter writer stated. “Sodomy is shown in their Jewish controlled media and movies as normal, healthy, enjoyable and something to celebrate openly in as brazen a fashion as possible. Six-year-old children in our Public Schools are shown videos promoting anal sex between males. The Jews have founded, funded and fronted every homosexual advocacy group in America.”
He concluded, “HITLER SAVED GERMANY. EXECUTE THESE TERRORIST PIGS!”
So who was it that said reality is stranger than fiction?
In “Bloody Rabbit,” Freeman takes a disturbing look at how one man finds himself a scapegoat as well, simply because he is mistaken by another man for being a local banker who happens to be Jewish.
As the book opens, Robeson is putting his life back together. He commits himself to the new full-time and part-time jobs that he’s taken, and lives a quiet, economical life in that small apartment.
Maybe he should have been forewarned, though, when his new landlady admits the gruesome history of that apartment, of the atrocities committed against a Jewish civil rights activist who rented it during the Jim Crow era.
Robeson is also working on fighting off feelings of being a failure, and he is increasingly drawn to faith to help him cope. He considers attending a local Synagogue and joining the Jewish faith.
This is before he starts being stalked by an ominous, intimidating man who blames Robeson for his own personal misfortune — and does not hesitate to admit his absolute hatred of the Jews. Suddenly, Robeson starts to feel dangerously, perilously vulnerable.
“Bloody Rabbit” takes an unnerving look at one man’s struggle to keep his life on track – and the strange twists that his frequent bouts of depression have on the life he’s trying so desperately to rebuild.
It also explores how small minority groups — gays and Jews among them — become convenient scapegoats for those who vent anger and hate in rough economic times. It is a book that speaks of, and about, the world we live in today.
Michael W. Freeman was born and raised in Fall River, Massachusetts. He has lived in Orlando, Florida since 2002. He received his Bachelor’s degree in writing and communications from Hampshire College and a Master’s degree in political communications from George Washington University. He has spent the past 26 years working in the field of journalism, most recently at The Orlando Sentinel as the editor of three community newspapers.
In November 2008, Freeman created Freeline Productions as a theatrical production company vehicle to stage his original play, “Hooked,” at the May 2009 Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival. He soon expanded Freeline Productions to become a full-scale writing and editing production company that includes the online magazine, Freeline Media, which went live in November 2011, and is still going strong today. In the field of literature, his favorite authors include Franz Kafka, Roland Topor and Jerzy Kosinski.
“Bloody Rabbit” can be purchased in paperback or Kindle eBook directly from Freeline Productions’ online bookstore or at Amazon.
Contact Freeline Media at Freelineorlando@gmail.com..