There’s a rally Sunday morning in the plaza of the Snohomish County Courthouse campus in downtown Everett.
We should go.
The 11 a.m. gathering has been called by the county chapter of the NAACP and its ALLIED campaign, Alliance of Leaders Leveraging Involvement to Eradicate Discrimination, in response to last weekend’s rallies and marches by a few hundred white supremacists, neo-Nazis and members of the Ku Klux Klan in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Ostensibly there to protest the removal of a statue to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, the gathering’s actual purpose was a coming-out party for racists — complete with tiki torches and screams of the Nazi slogan, “blood and soil” — those who think it’s now safe to bring their beliefs out into the open.
Encouraged by the dog-whistles sounded during Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, they have been further emboldened this week by President Trump’s tweets and statements following the weekend’s events.
The injuries and death of 32-year-old counter-protester Heather Heyer on Aug. 12, killed when she and others were struck by a car aimed at them, were the result of violence on “many sides, many sides,” Trump said, refusing to condemn the white supremacists responsible for the worst of Saturday’s violence or to label the attack as domestic terrorism.
By Monday, Trump read a prepared statement, calling out the “criminals and thugs, including KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups” as repugnant. But a day later, Trump was back to assigning blame to both sides in an angry exchange with reporters and specifically criticizing what he called “alt-left” groups who were “very, very violent” in confronting white supremacists and claiming those standing with supremacists included “some very fine people.”
President Trump may have believed he was being even-handed in this approach, but at a time that calls for a president to reassure and calm a nation, Trump instead took sides and earned the appreciation of white supremacists, notably that of former KKK leader David Duke.
It’s sadly necessary now to counter the impression that it is acceptable in America to discount the humanity of any among us and seek division and discrimination based on race, religion, color, culture, gender or sexual orientation or identity.
“The philosophy shared by white supremacists, racists, Nazis and the alt-right has moved into a place of legitimacy, bolstered by the non-actions and implicit support of this administration and others in positions of power,” said Janice Greene, president of the county chapter of the NAACP in a statement last week regarding Charlottesville. (Greene’s full statement is found below).
Thursday afternoon, Greene said that while prompted by the events in Charlottesville, she wants the rally to be about this community, and “what type of place we want, and how we do that together.”
In the past, Greene said, the discourse has mostly been civil, if not always in agreement. Lately, however, divisiveness has ramped up.
“You see race, gender, religion being used to divide everyone. We can’t allow ourselves to be divided,” she said.
Greene’s statement calls on her community to “stand firm against all forms of bigotry and hate” in our communities and private lives and recognizes that that opposition can take many forms.
“There are many actions that are within our expertise or sphere of influence that we can take everyday to stand against hatred,” Greene writes.
But that stand must be taken, and it must be made by those of us who might not usually attend a rally or march or are reluctant to get involved and speak up when we witness mistreatment, because the silent majority can speak with the loudest voice.
And once we’ve found our voice in opposing the most blatant forms of racism and hatred, we can then find the will and the words to confront our own prejudices and oppose the injustices we see daily in our lives.
The rally is 11 a.m. Sunday. We should go.
The NAACP’s Snohomish County chapter has scheduled a rally against hate for 11 a.m. Sunday at the Snohomish County Campus atrium, outside the county administration buildings and courthouse, 3000 Rockefeller Ave., Everett.