Hatred, hate groups have no place in our community

Published 9:05 am Wednesday, September 26, 2018

We have a pretty good feeling that the Elizabethton community is breathing a sigh of relief over a decision by a neo-Confederate group to cancel its planned protest at Sycamore Shoals State Park.
The protest by the League of the South had been planned for next Saturday, and the park had anticipated closing for the event.
Concerns had been voiced about the planned protest by the League, which has been deemed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The group has participated in several different well-documented protests including Charlottesville, Va., which turned deadly. The League most recently served as an anti-protest group to the Knoxville Pride Rally and was in attendance at the Tri-Pride Festival held a couple of weeks ago in Johnson City.
Being the community that we are, our beliefs are sure to differ. Just as we have Anglo-Saxon whites, Latinos, Blacks and other nationalities living in our community, we also have different religious and political views. However, we can be a community of different color and viewpoints without hating.
We support the right to free speech, but we do not support hate and intolerance.
Sadly, in our country many are still fighting the Civil War. Prejudice and discrimination remains. In our churches we preach morals and values, and yet there are some who are hostile toward those with different beliefs and fail to accept those who look differently and speak differently. Those types of prejudices breed hate groups.
The very notion of a hate group inspires fear. The images they provoke are lynchings, mobs, cross-burnings, and discrimination.
The Lord created people of color, and they are to be loved, whether they be red, yellow, black or white. Regardless of our color, our blood runs red, and from dust we were made, and to dust we will return. We must in our churches and schools establish a foundation of respect, tolerance, dignity and acceptance and see every person as a person of worth. We must not let hate take root in our community or no other community.
It is sad that from our White House, the very seat of our government, so many words of hate spew forth every day. We cannot allow these words to break us. Instead, we must be challenged to lift each other up.
Words of hate and the actions of hate groups are designed to divide America, and they are coming at a time when we need to pull together more than ever.
However, we must face up to the fact that there is a lot of hate and prejudice in America. We can argue about why it is happening, but the realism is that hate and prejudice are real. There are protests every day somewhere in this country. They are real and they’re happening more often, and it could have happened in Elizabethton this upcoming weekend.
We must not let hate define who we are as individuals or as a community. All of us must open our eyes to the growing presence of these extreme views, and counter them with love.
The November election is an important one, and we must elect leaders who will work to bring our country together, to value all life, and who will speak out against racism and ugly prejudice in all its forms.
Love conquers all, but hatred destroys.

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