Our View: ‘The wolves of hate’
More than 150 Steamboat Springs community members, from various faith backgrounds, gathered in solidarity Friday night to honor the 11 people who were gunned down at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Oct. 27. The special service was hosted by Har Mishpacha, the local Jewish congregation, and held at the Heart of Steamboat United Methodist Church.
Friday night’s gathering drew from the Jewish tradition of praying and reflecting on how healing can begin, and it’s our hope that it marks a moment in Steamboat’s history where we say “no more hate, no more division” and seek ways to come together in peace and goodwill, especially in light of the bitter divisiveness that seems to be tearing apart the very fabric of our great nation.
The Tree of Life shooting elicited righteous anger in Rabbi Mark Goodman, who served as the traveling rabbi for Steamboat’s Jewish congregation for several years before moving to Pittsburgh in August. Rabbi Goodman was at his own synagogue six blocks away from Tree of Life when the murders occurred, and in the days following the shooting, Goodman was one of the rabbis who helped minister to the grieving community.
At issue: A Jewish synagogue was the target of a mass shooting on Oct. 27 that left 11 people dead.
Our View: As a community, we must choose love and actively fight against all forms of hate and intolerance.
• Logan Molen, publisher
• Lisa Schlichtman, editor
• Mike Burns, community representative
• Melissa Hampton, community representative
Contact the Editorial Board at 970-871-4221 or lschlichtman
“Hate speech and political rhetoric demonizing the other is becoming toxic for our society,” Goodman said in an interview last week with Steamboat Pilot & Today reporter Eleanor Hasenbeck. “Don’t sit idly by and do nothing and wait for the next mass shooting. Talk to leaders in our country about sensible approaches to stemming this tide of nonstop violence in our society.”
It’s fitting this editorial will publish alongside mid-term election results, marking an end to a flurry of polarizing political ads and stump speeches that magnified all that is wrong with our country today — isolationism, intolerance toward those who are different than us and false rhetoric that reinforces people’s fears and emboldens violence.
Living in Steamboat Springs, it would be easy to believe we’re immune from this type of discord and division, but we’re not. Violence can happen anywhere at any time, and hatred can exist even in the most beautiful places.
If you doubt that, remember the swastikas that appeared on the Steamboat Springs High School campus last winter. Those symbols of hatred targeted Jewish students, and school administrators eventually used the incidents as the basis for a week-long series of events focused on inclusiveness among students.
Intolerance can also be seen in online comments and social media posts as well as “invitation-only” social media groups that all too often become echo chambers, reinforcing singular viewpoints and shutting out all objectivity.
The Tree of Life shooting reveals to us that anti-Semitism remains an issue in America, and the current political climate seems to be fanning the flames of that deep-seated hate.
Sixty years ago, a Jewish synagogue in Atlanta was bombed by white supremacists — racial terrorists — and within 20 minutes, Atlanta Constitution Editor Ralph McGill had written a powerful editorial that would earn him a Pulitzer Prize.
McGill’s column was written at the height of the Civil Rights movement, but sadly, his words ring true today.
“You do not preach and encourage hatred for the Negro and hope to restrict it to that field. It is an old, old story. It is one repeated over and over again in history. When the wolves of hate are loosed on one people, then no one is safe.”
McGill concluded, “For a long time now, it has been needful for all Americans to stand up and be counted on the side of law and the due process of law even when to do so goes against personal beliefs and emotions. It is late. But there is yet time.”
And that time is now. We must put aside our differences and seek common ground, and we must reject hatred and prejudice in all its forms.
The service that took place at a downtown church in Steamboat Springs on Friday night offers us reason to hope and to heal, and now it is up to us, as individual citizens, to spread that spirit of love and acceptance within our homes and throughout our workplaces, our clubs, our churches and our communities.
As anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela said, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
Choose love, reject hate and keep the “wolves of hate” at bay.
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Sherry Burlingame never imagined herself as a chief of police.