On the front lines in fight against hate
It's unfortunate that an election in America can trigger ugly racial incidents, but there was a certain inevitability this year. Happily, Massachusetts and Vermont have found appropriate responses.
In Massachusetts, Attorney General Maura Healey has established a hot line (1-800-994-3228) in response to reports of harassment and intimidation of racial, ethnic and religious minorities since the presidential election. A video taken in front of an ethnic restaurant in the Boston area in which the owners were taunted about their pending deportation attracted considerable notice as did threatening letters in Natick. "In Massachusetts, we will protect people's rights, fight discrimination and keep people safe," declared Ms. Healey, the state's top prosecutor.
In a powerful joint statement, Democratic Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin and Republican Governor-elect Phil Scott responded to concerns raised by refugee and immigrant rights groups by deploring racial intimidation and urging Vermonters to set an example to help guide the nation. Police are investigating the emergence of swastikas on a Trump campaign sign at the University of Vermont and on a Jewish community center in Middlebury.
Vermont has set an example in the past, as the governor and governor-elect noted in their statement. Vermont was the first state to outlaw slavery and President Calvin Coolidge, a Vermont native son, spoke of the "spirit of liberty" that distinguished "this brave little state of Vermont."
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has also established a hot line (1-888-392-3644) in response to crimes of bias reported in that bordering state. Time Magazine has reported increased incidents "of racist anti-Semitic vandalism and violence," across the nation, "many of which have drawn directly on the rhetoric and proposals of President-elect Donald Trump."
Asked about these incidents on CBS' "60 Minutes," the president-elect replied, "I am so saddened to hear that. And I say, 'Stop it.' If it helps. I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: Stop it." We urge the supporters of Mr. Trump to heed that admonition.
Incidents of overt racism and ethnic hatred have risen and fallen over the decades in America, but they have always lurked below the surface like a cancer even when progress was being made. This must be fought at all times, but now in particular, and it is good to see Massachusetts and Vermont, given their histories of tolerance and equality, at the front lines once again.
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