The hatred and bigotry that was expressed this week in Charlottesville, Virginia was a shocking reminder that anti-Semitism and racism are thriving in this country. And we are dismayed that our President has failed to provide the moral or political leadership called for in these times. The picture of young white men marching with torches and weapons and shouting racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic slogans was terrifying and runs counter to all the values the Walter & Elise Haas Fund holds dear. We mourn the death of a young woman, Heather Heyer, who was committed to equality and justice, and who was exercising her human right to protest unadulterated evil. We hope for the full and rapid recovery of the 19 people who were injured in the same hateful act.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, 917 hate groups now exist in the U.S. — 79 in California alone. Many of our grantees serve some of the most vulnerable in our community: immigrants, those with low incomes, Jews, Muslims, and LGBTQ people. We are proud to support the work of these grantees, particularly during these hard times. And we are very proud to lift up the voices of the leaders of organizations within our Jewish Life program that have long fought intolerance.
Here are some of their thoughtful and powerful words following Charlottesville:
“The hateful demonstration in Charlottesville, VA by those peddling anti-Semitism, white supremacy, and racism, has left so many in our nation and in our Jewish community reeling… History has taught us that where there are strains in the democratic fabric, anti-Semitism flourishes and discrimination and marginalization of all ethnic and racial minorities rises. We are heartened by the words of congressional members from both sides of the aisle who immediately called out by name this evil and who made a clarion call for unity in the face of hate.”
“Charlottesville should be a clarifying moment for all Americans. No longer can there be any excuses for this president, any attempts to parse his words or reinterpret or explain them away. Far from binding our wounds this president sows division, spreads falsehoods, and encourages hatred.”
“In the last few days, faith leaders and people of moral courage have been rising up to condemn the horrific display of white supremacy we saw in Charlottesville. Auburn stands with all those who sang, marched, prayed, and continue to work toward the vision of America where justice prevails.” (An Auburn Senior Fellow was in Charlottesville and shares his account.)
As we write this, plans are underway for right-wing rallies in San Francisco and Berkeley by a group calling itself “Patriot Prayer.” In response, grantee San Francisco Interfaith Council says, “We stand united to denounce those who use words such as “prayer,” “unity,” and “peace” to mask any agenda of hate, intolerance, and bigotry. In the days ahead, we will use the voices of faith communities — through prayer, the pulpit, and our communications network — to educate and inform and to fight racism, hatred, and bigotry.”
Faith communities are on the front lines of those calling out the hatred being espoused by many, offering an alternative vision. As Glide Foundation shared: “We are a place where we believe in the very best that people are capable of. While we know that the fight for equality is far from over, we also know that an alternative future is within reach.”
The Fund is proud to support organizations that uphold the values of acceptance and inclusion and to help galvanize resistance to hate and bigotry. These voices are needed now more than ever.
For those who want to know what they can do, we offer the following resources:
- Southern Poverty Law Center’s 10 Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide
- Anti-Defamation League’s Best practices for responding to cyber hate and anti-bias resources