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Stepping out of silence to stand in solidarity crucial to countering hate

What do we do when hate rears its ugly head and we see graffiti spray painted on a synagogue or Martin Luther King Jr. Center, or anti-refugee posters plastered on the Community Building with the intent of stirring fear?

The Spokane County Human Rights Task Force is now in place to join with the NAACP, along with faith, peace, justice, civic and business communities to say, “No!” to hate and “Yes!” to building alliances and solidarity to raise challenges.

The faith community gains resilience through its regular gatherings that remind us we are to love our neighbors and enemies, and we are to work for justice, equality, human rights and respect.

For the second year, the Interfaith Council continues “Meet the Neighbors,” opportunities to learn about faiths by meeting with people in their settings, sharing food and making new friends.

The Spokane City Council recently enacted a Title 18 ordinance to bring together human rights protections scattered in the municipal code as a reaffirmation of the city’s commitment to protect human rights for people in Spokane. It names discrimination based on race, religion, creed, color, sex, age, disability, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity; marital, familial, domestic violence, refugee, military or veteran status; or the receipt of housing choice or other subsidies for rent.

The ordinance says the city values “the dignity and worth of all human beings and is committed to promoting justice, equity and an inclusive environment for all.”  It affirms “equal opportunity” to participate in employment, housing and public accommodations and ensures the city “is a workplace free from bias and discrimination.”  It outlines means of enforcement related to complaints, appeals and review.          

The Spokane Valley City Council also adopted an anti-discrimination resolution. 

People from a coalition of organizations testified to promote those resolutions.

Some responses have become institutions, like the Observance of the Holocaust.

Women religious, like the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, Dominican Sisters and Sisters of Providence, recently issued statements joining with other faith groups to voice support for the humane treatment of refugees fleeing from violence, said Judith Desmarais, provincial superior for the Sisters of Providence.  “We cannot stand in silence when government policies violate our beliefs about the dignity and rights of each human person.

Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia said the recent “anti-immigrant and anti-refugee executive orders are inhumane and do not respect the rights and dignity of those coming to our borders seeking asylum or who have lived here as aspiring citizens, contributing to our society in many ways.

They acknowledge that fear and suspicion are common in dealing with the unknown, but “desiring to be a compassionate people, we try to place ourselves in the shoes of migrants” and then act to walk in solidarity.

Challenging hate means acting on words.

Mary Stamp – Editor

Copyright © April 2017 - The Fig Tree