Saturday, November 3, 2018

To fight hate, vote

  Consider the last 11 days in our country.

  First, a white gunman killed two African Americans in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, after trying to break into a black church.

  Then, a man who reportedly identified as a white supremacist was arrested for mailing pipe bombs to President Barack Obama, George Soros, Hillary Clinton and other people President Trump has criticized.

  And last Saturday morning, as worshippers gathered at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, a white gunman shouted “All Jews must die” as he opened fire, killing 11 people.

  Behind each attack was the same kind of naked hate.

  Last week’s terrorist attacks were far from the first of their kind. Three years ago, white supremacist Dylann Roof massacred nine African Americans at a church in Charleston. Three years before that, neo-Nazi Wade Michael Page killed six at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. And there have been many other far-right attacks and plots in recent years.

  “This irrational fear that ‘the other’ — minorities and people of color — will take the country away from whites is the through-line connecting a spate of violence targeted at houses of worship across different religions in just the past six years,” wrote Southern Poverty Law Center Intelligence Project Director Heidi Beirich this week.

  At a vigil in Lexington, Kentucky, this week, Rabbi David Wirtschafter asked, "If you can't go to your church or your mosque or your temple without being shot, or the fear of being shot, what kind of country are we living in?"

  In three short days, voters will have the opportunity to help determine just what kind of country we’ll be living in.

  “The midterm elections on Tuesday are not about partisan politics,” said SPLC President Richard Cohen this week. “They’re about the future of our country. Whatever your political persuasion, reject hate and vote.”

  Indeed, if anything is clear from the horrific violence of the last 11 days, it’s what’s at stake.

  Regardless of the outcome, we know there will still be an incredible amount of work to do.

  Last year the SPLC released an updated community resource guide with 10 ways that individuals can fight hate. The guide includes concrete actions, listed under umbrellas like “Create an Alternative,” “Teach Acceptance” and “Join Forces.” As we wrote last year:

  The good news is, all over the country people are fighting hate, standing up to promote tolerance and inclusion. More often than not, when hate flares up, good people rise up against it — often in greater numbers and with stronger voices.

  That’s exactly what we’ve seen since last week’s attacks.

  “I will not let this stop me. I’m here to stay because this is my country,” said Dr. Nadia Rasheed at a vigil in Kentucky this week. “The Muslims, the Jews, the Catholics, the Hispanics, the Asians, the gays, we are all American. We need to let them know us and take the hate right out of them!”

  Or as Patricia Fulce-Smith, wife of the minister of another church in Jeffersontown, told the Louisville Courier-Journal, “You’ve gotta sing through your tears some days.”

  This article was published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

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