Hate is unwelcome on Mercer Island | Editorial

  • Tuesday, September 19, 2017 9:30am
  • Opinion

Earlier this month, the Mercer Island City Council voted to send a letter to the community speaking out against hate groups and defending fundamental rights.

The letter was inspired by recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia last month, when a white nationalist rally took place, resulting in the death of a woman and more than 30 people injured in the ensuing clashes.

This event compelled our city leaders to call out and denounce hate speech.

“We have watched with dismay and disbelief as national leaders, and in particular the President, have made statements over the last few weeks that are not only factually incorrect but morally reprehensible,” according to the letter. “They have served to further divide the country and communities rather than unify. These words and these behaviors stand in direct contradiction to our core values.”

We stand behind these sentiments.

Mercer Island is not immune from similar instances — our own Jewish Community Center was the target of threats in March.

With a growing diverse population on this Island, we support diversity and inclusion, as opposed to hatred and racism. We support our city leaders in remaining vigilant in the defense of every person’s fundamental rights to live “without fear of retribution or discrimination because of their race, religion, sex, national origin, color, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

We oppose hate groups and their actions. And we encourage Island residents to speak out against hate groups and hate speech in a civil manner, and show people with such blatant attitudes that their actions are unwelcome on our Island — and elsewhere.

Civil discourse should not divide community

Islanders recently received an anonymous letter regarding residential codes.

The letter, from “Concerned Citizens of MI,” did not identify its proponents by name and clearly contained misleading information and vague assertions.

The false information, inflammatory language and anonymity in the letter not only is an affront to the intelligence of our Island residents, it encourages exactly the kind of misbehavior displayed at the national level that most of us have sought to avoid.

In addition, the letter reinforces the angry displays that are unfortunately the norm on such social media platforms as Next Door.

We once again call for civil, honest and informed debate.

While we value community discourse reflecting varying positions on local issues, we discourage uncivil discourse. Islanders who engage in such dialogue should be transparent, respect differing views and express themselves in a way that encourages healthy discussions and moves the conversation forward.

Contact the Mercer Island Reporter Editorial Board at editorialboard@mi-reporter.com.

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