Human agency means that we are endowed with reason and conscience and, according to the aspirational language of Article I of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “should act toward one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
If we could only make it so.
Human nature and the politics of hate were thrown into relief Tuesday when Holly Grigsby, an Oregon white supremacist, was sentenced to life behind bars for her role in the 2011 murders of four people, including David “Red” Pedersen, and his wife, DeeDee Pedersen, both of Everett. They were the father and stepmother, respectively, of Grigsby's boyfriend and partner in hate, David “Joey” Pedersen. As The Herald's Diana Hefley reported, prosecutors allege Grigsby was responsible for tying up DeeDee Pedersen and slashing her throat inside the Everett grandmother's home.
Both Grigsby and David “Joey” Pedersen were animated by antisemitism and an appetite for revolution. As Eric Hoffer wrote in his 1951 masterpiece, “The True Believer,” “It is by its promise of a sense of power that evil often attracts the weak.”
It's a legacy with an uncomfortable heritage.
Seven years ago a tangle of events topped off at the old Everett Elks club. A self-styled Illegal Immigration Summit was a lesser angels' showcase of xenophobes, racists and conspiracy theorists — outliers who, one convulsed soul after another, gave expression to Snohomish County's dark corners.
Shawna Forde, an Everett City Council candidate at the time, warned the gathering about a rising tide of undocumented aliens. “I'm through with people who don't belong in my country and who tax my system,” she said. The current child-refugee crisis must be infuriating for Forde.
In 2009, she teamed with a Minuteman cohort, Jason “Gunny” Bush, and killed an Arizona man and his 9-year old daughter, Brisenia Flores. Forde and Bush currently sit on Arizona's death row.
Today the Snohomish County Human Rights Commission hosts its the third annual “Brisenia Flores Humanity not Hatred” event, a community ice-cream social from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at McCollum Park.
“The Human Rights Commission's hope is that by remembering Brisenia in an event designed to encourage communication and positive interaction, we can build stronger connections among diverse residents from across Snohomish County,” wrote commission chairwoman Meg Winch.
Brotherhood is elusive. That doesn't preclude trying. Brisenia Flores had a right not to be killed.
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