The Nazis are marching in my hometown

A message to the people of Newnan, Georgia:

Although I live in Seattle, I still have a home in Newnan, Georgia.

Sadly, on April 21st, Newnan is scheduled to be visited by a very unwelcome presence, white nationalists, Nazis.  It is tragic that the Nazis have selected Newnan to bring their message of hatred and bigotry.  The people of Newnan pride themselves on being a friendly, diverse, multi-racial and multi-ethnic place to live.  Perhaps that is why the Nazis have targeted Newnan.

We will not allow the bigotry and racism of the Nazis to divide us.  Rather, we have to come together to reject hateful speech and promote interfaith cooperation.

The presence of the Nazis has compelled us to redouble our efforts to combat racist and antisemitic groups and stop them from recruiting our young people into their world of hatred and violence.  Intolerance and hatred based on race, culture or religion is evil and destructive and must not go unanswered, ignored or unopposed.

We must insist that our city be known as a place where bigotry and prejudice are not tolerated.  We must demand that our politicians, public officials, business leaders, law enforcement officers, newspaper editors and teachers denounce in the strongest terms all forms of discrimination and speak out forcefully against hate groups. Racial slurs and use of ethnic stereotypes should not be tolerated.  Schools must use available resources to teach tolerance and mutual respect. Private businesses that promote bigotry must be boycotted.  Most importantly, each of us—as individuals and as members of our larger communities—must take greater responsibility for combating prejudice into our own lives.

Any racial or religious attack on one community is an attack on all of us.  Vicious, untrue and inflammatory attacks on any group are a smear on all groups, an assault on American principles.  When hatred strikes, we all feel the blow.   As Dr. King reminded us, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Rabbi Rick Harkavy, a proud resident of Newnan, Georgia


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