If You See Hate . . .
by Ron J. Suresha
Following the spraypainting on the front of a New Milford restaurant, Thompson’s, of a racial epithet and a misshapen swastika, there has been an outpouring of support from local and out-of-town folks coming forward.
Having met the owners on several visits, it is deeply shocking to imagine how I would feel had I awoken to find my business or home defaced in such a cruel and juvenile way.
I wonder how the vandal(s) who did this would feel if their home or workplace was damaged similarly. How would they feel if some inane, malicious, hateful act had been directed toward them and their family?
I suspect they are too ignorant to read the opinion page and too cowardly to face their inner demons.
Still, it is heartening to hear of the loving support the community has offered in so many ways. We know that New Milford is a great place to and that mostly good people live and work here.
But it is not enough simply to go to Thompson’s for a drink or a meal, enjoyable enough as it is in its gorgeous setting overlooking the river and bridge.
If we want to show the Thompson family that New Milford is not a place of hate, what is really helpful is for everyone in their personal, day-to-day activities and interactions to speak out each and every time they encounter hate speech.
We often know who these people are, in our families and among our classmates, coworkers, and others, because they’re too ignorant to know how to simply suppress all their bigoted ideas and violent tendencies.
So they will inevitably betray themselves and speak out, because racism, sexism, homophobia, and religious zealotry all feed on bad company.
It is helpful for families to sit down together and talk about race, gender, and class inequality and prejudice, and how these are issues in our communities. Talk to them about Nazi history and symbolism and how the Nazis exterminated between 15 and 20 million lives. Make it clear that hateful words and destructive, violent behavior are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
We can no longer say, “It can’t happen here.” It did happen here, and we are all responsible to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
So if you hear something, say something.