Dear Mr. Luftig: We reject hate

| 08 Mar 2021 | 11:11

    Your ad, published last week in this paper, is a gift to the causes of racial and social justice in Warwick. For anyone not yet convinced of the menace of systemic racism, your ad removes all doubt.

    Your denial of bias and racism in Warwick because you haven’t faced these barriers in your personal experience is the very essence of privilege and disqualifies your further comments from any serious consideration. For some truth about the experiences of young people of color growing up in Warwick, I recommend that you research and read the pieces published in this paper in fall of 2020, by Vidar Hageman and Sabrina Jennings.

    The parent group on behalf of whom you write, perhaps feeling some level of discomfort with the ugly content of your letter, have kept their white hoods in place, remaining nameless, removing any question as to the cowardice of bullies.

    You’ve made an ironclad case for inclusivity training in our schools. The destructive rhetoric of your letter is chillingly familiar: ignorance and hatred couched in political attacks and gaslighting, which aims to otherize, blame, delegitimize and persecute those with whom you don’t agree. History is full of notorious examples of this propaganda and its consequences, from Nazi Germany to Jim Crow, to present day.

    This cannot and will not be our future.

    As our community and our schools join the renewed national reckoning on racial and social justice, a fierce backlash of nationalist extremism has inflicted a deadly insurrection on our Capitol; threatened or committed acts of violence against political leaders and activists; and emboldened political hate speech in cities and towns nationwide.

    Your letter is consistent with these right-wing extremist responses to the forward momentum of our nation. We will not be intimidated.

    Where messages of fear and intolerance attempt to drown the voices of reason and empathy, our moral obligation is to call out such indecency and defend the safety and dignity of all people.

    Your message, couched in the self-delusion of white grievance and right-wing dog whistling, is a warning to be heeded.

    If we don’t respond immediately to reject all forms of hate speech and establish within our schools a welcoming environment free of fear, that’s physically, emotionally and intellectually nurturing to all of our children, we will by our inaction, perpetuate the hatreds which define today’s right- wing bullying and threaten our diverse democracy.

    We will not allow this.

    Not in our schools.

    Not in our community.

    Not in our nation.

    We’ll be watching and we’ll be voting to reject the fear-based intolerance of any who seek to divide us. Our children deserve an educational environment that values diversity, inclusivity, respect and empathy.

    I’m sure that the vast majority of this community will continue to support school board members who share these values.

    I’m equally sure that this community will remain vigilant to any expressions of hatred and will condemn without exception, both the message and the messengers.

    Joan Tirrell