Letter: City must remain vigilant in keeping hatred out

From: Richard Gold


“No refugees welcome” was the headline following a gathering of white supremacists several months ago to whom the statement was attributed. This is an inaccurate depiction of Columbus.

We work diligently to remain a welcoming community to people of all colors, ethnicities, religions and beliefs in pursuit of greater cultural diversity, learning and economic progress.

The headline thankfully is a reminder that we must always remain vigilant against those who spew venom, hate and seed division among us. This hate group’s message is that Jews are responsible for the world’s ailments, and white people need a racially pure country to call their own. This is the platform on which genocide is launched and the human species extinguishes itself.

Many believe the harsh, divisive language of the current administration, and actions to slow visas, enact travel bans and build a wall have emboldened hate groups. Very likely. But there are two larger lessons here.

The first is that this hate, racial and ethnic venom is latent in some of the population always. Whether emboldened or not, it is here already. It is not illegal until followed by action, but it is toxic. It feeds on fear, misinformation, ignorance, entitlement and silent opposition.

We must not forget this, nor history. The rest of us need to forcefully reject this platform of hate whenever possible.

When our former governor sought to deny basic human rights to gays, we said, “No.” When our local Statehouse representative votes against hate crime legislation, we say, “Unacceptable.”

When illegal travel bans are implemented, we voice disapproval and count on the constitutional role of the judiciary to maintain balance of power. When we feel deporting Dreamers is a mistake, we write elected representatives.

When our city visibly embraces human rights for all, we applaud.

When the suggestion is made that we spend billions on an ineffective border wall, we implore Congress to work together to build a meaningful immigration policy to guide us. Bricks and mortar won’t.

Lest we forget, we are a nation of immigrants whose rallying cry is “Bring us your poor, your huddled masses.” There are few Native Americans among us and clearly they didn’t have an effective immigration policy either.

The first point is constant vigilance. A hate watch.

The second is that a strength of our country rests with the wisdom of our forefathers. To quote our most recent Laws speaker: “The Libertarian foundation of our Constitution and Bill of Rights is deceptively simple: We get to do our own thing until and unless we harm the person or property of someone else, and so long as we are willing to accord an equal liberty to others.”

When the first amendment no longer allows any one of us to believe what we will assemble, worship, protect a free press, then it’s just when you or I are next. So neo-Nazis can assemble and spew their hate.

Our obligation: vigilance and to support Not In Columbus — not only next Saturday, but every day.