Silence is Not an Option

To the editor:

Recently the Gazette reported on a dispute between neighbors in a Hardwick apartment building that ended in someone scrawling an anti-Semitic profanity — let’s call it the K-word — on the door of a Jewish family living there. The article did not include details of the arguments that led up to this written assault. We understand that in this kind of conflict, fault is rarely entirely on one side.

But we don’t need to know what happened between the tenants to make the far more important point, or to make it without reservation: We deplore and denounce this language and the bigotry behind them. They are inexcusable in our community or anywhere.

We also know that this is not an isolated event. The sentiment expressed on that door does not come from nowhere. We are living at a time when some of our political leaders not only condone but also actively promote bigotry and violence and deploy it for their own gains. Many people feel they’ve been given permission to voice – and act on – their most irrational fears and vilest feelings and beliefs.

The problem is not just about speech. Bullying, harassment, and violent hate crimes against people of color, sex and gender minorities, people with disabilities, immigrants, Muslims, Jews, and other currently despised groups are alarmingly on the rise. Racism and nativism threaten democracy and peace around the world.

We call upon community members and elected officials, including the Select Board, to speak out against this and all forms of bigotry. Silence is not an option.

Judith Levine