By Letter to the Editor on January 4, 2017.
This Christmas and holiday season, we have been quite blessed in our region. The peace we have felt here has been deep and profound. But the peace of our neighbours is in danger.
A group of hate activists are planning an armed hate march in Whitefish, Montana in early January. ABC Fox Montana interviewed the hate group organizers who said, “We are planning an armed protest in Whitefish. Montana has extremely liberal open carry laws, so my lawyer is telling me we can easily march through the center of the town carrying high-powered rifles.”
The organizers claim they will be busing in “skinheads from the Bay Area,” adding, “We are going to be able to put together about 200 people to participate in the march, which will be against Jews, Jewish businesses and everyone who supports either.”
Communities in southern Alberta and Whitefish are tied closely together. Many people from our region travel to Whitefish over the summer. There are people who own or rent property in the Whitefish area. Many of us have friends and family in Whitefish. Now the people of Whitefish need more than our thoughts and prayers. They need our love, our help, and our presence.
In the face of hatred, apathy will be interpreted as acceptance – by the perpetrators, the public, and, worse, the victims. Decent people must take actions; if we don’t, hate persists.
In response to this terrible display of hatred and racism, a group of people in Whitefish have begun organizing a community gathering against racism and oppression, Love Not Hate. This family-friendly event is being organized by the groups Love Lives Here and the Montana Human Rights Network. The event will be held Saturday, Jan. 7 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Depot Park in Whitefish. Local leaders of diverse backgrounds will speak about the importance of accepting differences and rejecting hateful rhetoric. There will also be live music. Please note that this is not the same day as the hate march.
Our communities in southern Alberta were largely founded by people fleeing persecution, and whose rights were trampled upon when they were put into nearby internment camps or shuffled off to reservations. We have strong historical, cultural, religious, and family connections to the struggle our neighbours in Whitefish are experiencing. We have an opportunity and an obligation to support them in this time of need.
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