To the Editor:
Just last week a number of local businesses and residences were targeted with anti-Semitic and racist vandalism, and there is reason to believe that an escalation of violence was being planned against those who speak out against such injustices. This week a number of new End White Silence signs are going up around town. I can’t speak for everyone, but here’s why I’m posting one:
We must be unequivocal in our declaration that hate-based ideologies will never again become the norm.
We cannot accept white supremacy and remain a democracy.
We cannot revert to the complacency that has led us to dismiss armed racists as “fringe” groups. They aren’t fringe anymore.
We must acknowledge that the growth of hate groups isn’t about ignorance; it’s a conscious choice. The reality is that a majority of white voters, including a sizable number of college educated whites and more than one in three New Yorkers, voted to return an incumbent President to office knowing full well that he promotes conspiracy theories, white nationalism, and a distortion of masculinity that is disconnected from any sense of honor or integrity.
Whites broke it. It’s our responsibility to fix it. If white nationalism becomes the new American identity, it won’t be because black, indigenous, or people of color voters stayed home.
There is power is numbers. Racists might be able to pick off a few targets, but they don’t yet have the capacity to attack everyone. What if we all put up signs?
My car has a bumper sticker that says “We’re all in this together.” I take that seriously. We share a planet and we share a country. That country comes closest to achieving American ideals of freedom, liberty, and equality when we understand that pluralism leads to vibrant communities and that guaranteeing the rights of people who aren’t like us is exactly what preserves our own rights.
So my sign is really a question: What can each of us with privilege – any degree of privilege – do today to speak up for dignity, reason, justice, and equity? Because democracy is messy and we have some cleaning up to do.
City of Ithaca