Like many of you, I watched in horror as members of the Alt-Right (Nazis, White Supremicists, KKK) marched in Charlottesville. I was shocked to hear that a terrorists rammed his car into a group of counter-demonstrators killing one of them and injuring numerous others. I was equally shocked to see footage of domestic terrorists beating a man simply because of his race. And I was saddened when our President finally spoke out but neglected to denounce, by name, the emboldened perpetrators of hate.
In response, TSTI member Marian Raab organized a demonstration in Maplewood last night. There was little more than a day to put the rally together yet hundreds of people turned out for it. I, along with my colleague Pastor Valencia Norman, was invited to speak. Here is what I said last night:
Ellie Wiesel, Professor, Political activist, nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor taught,
We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
We are here this evening because we will not be silent.
We are here because we have taken sides… we are on the side of goodness, of love, of open embrace.
We will not sit by silently and allow hatred to spew out in our streets without it being met by enough love to counter it.
We will not be intimidated by those whose hate drives them to bring flaming torches to a prayer vigil, or don paramilitary garb or carry weapons that are designed only to bring death and destruction.
We will not allow euphemisms to be used when domestic terrorism is emboldened enough by political rhetoric that it leads to Nazi marches in our streets.
And we will not accept excuses and false equivalencies when a self-identified extremist drives his car into a group of counter demonstrators murdering one and injuring countless others.
We are here this evening because, without apology, without hesitation but with a great deal of moral outrage, we are taking a side.
Throughout our village of South Orange and Maplewood there are signs that say, “Hate Has No Home Here.”
It is a powerful statement but perhaps the use of the word “here” is a bit too general. And, as we have seen, generalities leave open room for interpretation. So let me be specific.
When I say, “Hate has no home here,” I mean hate has no home in any of our synagogues, churches or mosques. Hate has no home in South Orange or Maplewood. Hate has no home in the United States.
And if someone is going to claim to be a leader… particularly on the national stage, it is their obligation to be specific and to be loud and to make clear- that HATE HAS NO HOME IN THE United States of America. That is especially so when that hate comes in the form of any of the euphemisms that are being used to refer to Nazis.
Freedom of speech means that those who have racist biased views… they are entitled to those views. But they do not have the right to threaten. They do not have the right to intimidate. They do not have the right to cause harm. And they need to know that They Are Wrong.
Our leaders need to speak up. Many have- but not enough. They need to be specific. Many have- but not enough. And they need to take responsibility for the seeds they have sown- whether through their silence and acquiescence or through the rhetoric they employed during their campaign.
Hate has no home here.
Oseh shalom bim romav, hu yaaseh shalom – May the one who brings peace to the highest of heavens let peace descend upon us. And may we, with every fiber of our being, do the work we need to do to bring love, peace and wholeness to our nation.
(Post Note Monday 1pm: I am gratified that a clear, specific condemnation of radical extremist hate groups was finally issued from the White House. )