In the wake of a murder last weekend at a Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Va., there has been a flood of statements from leaders in government, business and the media condemning hate.
Let us add our voice to the rising chorus: There is no place in America for discrimination, hate or a belief in racial or cultural superiority. This is not a political issue; it’s an American one. Our nation believes all people are created equal. Period.
Further, there is no moral equivalency between people who support hate and those who oppose it.
Not so long ago, these principles were tested here in Twin Falls, when debate over refugee resettlement – a legitimate political issue worthy of discussion and with valid viewpoints on both sides – grew like a cancer into a forum that enabled racists and those claiming that the only legitimate cultures were those borne through causation genetics.
At the time, Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs strongly condemned “attempts to try and stir up hatred and bigotry” here in the Magic Valley. We did, too, over and over on these pages. And so did scores of others, who spoke at public meetings and held signs in the streets. Still, armed groups with ties to white supremacists marched in Twin Falls waving Confederate flags. Speakers at City Council meetings espoused hate and superiority over newcomers in Twin Falls from other cultures and races.
They weren’t wearing Klan robes or Nazi uniforms, but their sentiments were clear: Non-Christians and non-whites weren’t welcome in Twin Falls.
While the political debate about refugee resettlement will probably never be over, the fight over whether hatred has a place in Twin Falls has been won by the better angels of our nature. Racists aren’t showing up to many public meetings these days. The outsiders who came to town to rile up hate have moved on to other issues in other communities.
The victory here is mostly thanks to folks who spoke up at the time, to directly challenge hate. They share a lot in common with those who also stood up to hate last weekend in Charlottesville.
And perhaps the city’s resolution to be a “welcoming city” that drew so much controversy holds even more significance now. The City Council made clear that hatemongering wasn’t going to be part of our present or future.
Racism hasn’t been purged totally purged from the Magic Valley, not by any stretch of the imagination. But those very public displays of it have been.
We must stay vigilant and continue to condemn hate when we see it. Not just in the newspaper or at City Council meetings, but also in our everyday lives. Non-violent confrontation and condemnation of hate and racism is the antidote to those wrongheaded philosophies.
There were a lot of torches lit and carried by racists last week in Charlottesville. But the light from many more candles lit by mourners and protesters later in the week far outshone the light from those torches.