Tag Archive for bigotry

The limits of forgiveness, the power of our votes

Yesterday, the State of Alabama denied parole to the murderer of these children.

(From WikiMedia: clockwise from top left, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Carol Denise McNair)

These girls were killed for one reason: hatred of the color of their skin.

We are often called upon to forgive (and forget – now that we are post-racial!) but these four girls should never be forgotten and their murderers should never be set free.

Say their names:
– Addie Mae Collins
– Cynthia Wesley
– Carole Robertson
– Carol Denise McNair

We must never again allow racism and bigotry to be accepted as the norm. We must forcefully reject a political party, the Republican Party, where politicians who embrace the rhetoric of white supremacy can be nominated for the highest office in the land. Reject hatred, reject bigotry, reject Republicans.

The only way to end discrimination is to keep the power to make laws out of the hands of those who do not recognize the worth of every person.

Vote. And then when you finish voting, help someone else to vote.

Elie Wiesel: “We must always take sides … silence encourages the tormentor.”

Yesterday, Elie Wiesel, Nobel laureate and witness to the horrors of the Holocaust, died at the age of 87. As his words filled the news feeds, in images and text, the reminder of the horrors of state sponsored hate resonated with many who are watching the rise of Trumpism and the Republican Party’s cynical political choices that enables it.

Mr. Wiesel at his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in 1986:

Video at NobelPrize.org Acceptance Speech by Elie Wiesel (18 minutes) 10 December 1986, in the Oslo City Hall, Norway

Mr. Wiesel’s words of warning:

… if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices …

I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.

On what we owe those who are denied justice and dignity:

One person – a Raoul Wallenberg, an Albert Schweitzer, one person of integrity, can make a difference, a difference of life and death. As long as one dissident is in prison, our freedom will not be true. As long as one child is hungry, our lives will be filled with anguish and shame. What all these victims need above all is to know that they are not alone; that we are not forgetting them, that when their voices are stifled we shall lend them ours, that while their freedom depends on ours, the quality of our freedom depends on theirs. […]

Our lives no longer belong to us alone; they belong to all those who need us desperately.

In June, 2009, President Obama and Elie Wiesel visited the site of the Nazi extermination camp at Buchenwald.

President Obama, seven years ago, still true:

… to this day, there are those who perpetuate every form of intolerance — racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, xenophobia, sexism, and more — hatred that degrades its victims and diminishes us all. In this century, we’ve seen genocide. We’ve seen mass graves and the ashes of villages burned to the ground; children used as soldiers and rape used as a weapon of war. This places teaches us that we must be ever vigilant about the spread of evil in our own time, that we must reject the false comfort that others’ suffering is not our problem and commit ourselves to resisting those who would subjugate others to serve their own interests.

Full video and text of transcript below.

President Obama: “Our freedom is bound up with the freedom of others”

From the White House:

On Wednesday, the President travelled to the U.S. Capitol to deliver remarks at an event commemorating the 150th anniversary of the 13th Amendment. The President was be joined by Members of both the House and Senate, including Congressional leadership and the Congressional Black Caucus, in marking this historic event.

(President Obama delivers remarks at the U.S. Capitol to commemorate the abolition of slavery in 1865.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:

We gather here to commemorate a century and a half of freedom — not simply for former slaves, but for all of us.

Today, the issue of chattel slavery seems so simple, so obvious — it is wrong in every sense. Stealing men, women, and children from their homelands. Tearing husband from wife, parent from child; stripped and sold to the highest bidder; shackled in chains and bloodied with the whip. It’s antithetical not only to our conception of human rights and dignity, but to our conception of ourselves — a people founded on the premise that all are created equal. […]

… for decades, America wrestled with the issue of slavery in a way that we have with no other, before or since …

At its heart, the question of slavery was never simply about civil rights. It was about the meaning of America, the kind of country we wanted to be –- whether this nation might fulfill the call of its birth: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” that among those are life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The president described the long struggle to move from freedom to full citizenship, paying homage to the civil rights leaders, and ordinary men and women who pursued justice for people of color. He cited the uneven progress, the ugliness that still “bubbles up” and concluded:

our freedom is bound up with the freedom of others -– regardless of what they look like or where they come from or what their last name is or what faith they practice. (Applause.) To be honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. To nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of Earth. To nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of Earth. That is our choice. Today, we affirm hope.