As a response to events in Charlottesville and what it seems to be sparking nationwide, the Southern Poverty Law Center released this week a new edition of “Ten Ways to Fight Hate,” to provide “a blueprint for speaking up and organizing communities against hate while — most importantly — avoiding violent confrontations.”
The publication is available online from the SPLC, which aims to distribute it free to community groups and individuals concerned with the possibility of burgeoning civil violence. The SPLC is a nonprofit legal-advocacy organization specializing in civil rights and public-interest litigation.
The “Ten Ways” publication urges that those worried about civil violence:
1. Act. Perform “acts of goodness.” Do not allow rhetoric to divide a community.
2. Join forces with others who oppose hate. “Reach out to allies from churches, schools, clubs and other civic groups,” the publication advises. “Create a diverse coalition. Include children, police and the media.”
The Rev. Dian Jackson Davis of Mount Zion United Church of Christ, Rockingham, worries that many of Richmond County’s pastors aren’t “progressive” enough to address current events in church, as she often does.
On Sunday, she briefly touched on the “atrocity” in Charlottesville, “but I did not dwell on it.” Instead, she preached that God’s mercy would protect the righteous against “the evil that’s going on” in America and encouraged congregants to “keep doing the work of Jesus.”
Jackson Davis worries that some ministers spend too much time telling their flocks how to get to heaven than telling them how to make better the world they live in.
3. Support the victims. If you become a victim report it. If you are not one, aid those who are.
But some in government question how far such assistance should go.
For example, a committee of the UNC Board of Governors voted recently to ban the university’s Center for Civil Rights from engaging in litigation. The center has, on occasion, filed suit against state governmental bodies it thought was hindering individual rights.
The vote to prohibit the center from doing what it argues is part of its mission has alarmed advocates for civil rights and academic freedom. Critics claim that politics dictated the ban. (The N.C. Legislature also is wrestling with claims of racial politics in its quest to redistrict in a way the courts approve.)
4. Speak up in your community and to your elected representatives. Use social media, websites, church bulletins.
The next opportunity to speak to a member of Congress will come Aug. 20, when Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., holds a town hall meeting in Rockingham. It will be at 12:30 p.m., at City Hall.
On Tuesday, Pittenger released a statement critical of those in Durham.
“The anarchy displayed in Durham should be condemned by all who cherish the rule of law and the spirit of Martin Luther King,” Pittenger said. “The despicable, reprehensible hatred displayed by white supremacists in Charlottesville has no place in America, but we cannot drive out that hate with more violence.”
5. Educate yourself. Know the symbols and catch phrases of hate.
The SPLC has identified 31 “hate groups” operating in North Carolina, from the black-separatist Nation of Islam; to the white-supremacist Blood and Honour Social Club, KKK and Traditionalist Youth Network; to the anti-Muslim Soldiers of Odin. Its “maps” pages list the locations and logos of all hate groups in America, as well as each state.
6. Choose an alternative to confrontation. “Do not attend a hate rally,” the publication recommends. “As much as you might like to physically show your opposition to hate, confrontations serve only the perpetrators.” Again, choose an “act of goodness.”
The Rev. John Jackson told his congregants at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church last Sunday that the best hope to combat evil was prayer, not just individual prayer but the coming together of churches.
“Only God can fix this thing,” he said, naming those he thought responsible for the hate plaguing America. “It’s time for the churches to come together and pray for the nation.”
7. Pressure leaders in your community, from government officials to the police, whose rapid response to any violent incident must be swift.
8. Stay engaged. Change your behavior, and help others to change theirs.
9. Teach acceptance to your own family and in schools.
Leath Memorial Library can furnish collections of books for teachers discussing civil rights, bullying or other anti-violence topics, given a few weeks’ notice, librarian Deborah Knight said Tuesday. Because it takes part in a five-county network, it can borrow books from other libraries as well.
The SPLC also has a series of magazines called “Teaching Tolerance,” to help schools develop lesson plans relevant to current events.
10. Dig deeper. Do you have your own bias or stereotypes? Try to rid yourself of them.
To view the complete list — as well as suggestions to actions each individual can take — visit the SPLC website and search for “Ten Ways.”
The site also contains maps of hate groups throughout the United States, under the tab “MAPS.”
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673.