Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress via AP
Charlottesville, Virginia is the width of a continent away us, but as Long Beach Peninsula resident Susie Goldsmith pointed out Sunday on Facebook, “Lest we forget, we have strong ties to Charlottesville, VA and Albermarle County, VA. Long Beach and Pacific County, WA were officially Sister City and Sister County for the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial in 2004. We hosted their officials and volunteers and they hosted us twice.”
In addition to a shared connection with President Thomas Jefferson, at whose behest our remote western shore was explored in 1805, it’s worth noting that we, too, struggle against racism. Living descendants of the Chinook Tribe — which helped Lewis and Clark survive — tell of disgraceful bigotry in our past. More subtle prejudice continues … even as local native people play essential roles in coastal society.
More recently, while diligently working some of the toughest jobs around, Hispanic immigrants have to wish for basic respect. Our ongoing “Stories from the heart” series tells of some of our Hispanic neighbors hiding at home in fear — sometimes from immigration enforcement officers, but too often from cruel verbal barbs thrown their way by louts in stores and classrooms.
Immigration is intellectually and emotionally complex. A person can believe in tight borders for good reasons having nothing to do with racism. But if our kids had empty bellies and we couldn’t find a job good enough to fill them, what parent wouldn’t cross any border necessary in search of a better future? We have neighbors who acted with such courage. Speak up with a kind word if you witness them being verbally abused. Advocate for more constructive answers than tearing families apart.
“We send our love and prayers to the good people and my family in Charlottesville, VA and condemn this violence. [But that’s] just not enough,” Goldsmith said.
We don’t have white supremacists marching in our streets. Not now, anyway — the KKK was once a powerful force in the Pacific Northwest. We must never stomach their return. As U.S. Sen. Orin Hatch, R-Utah, said Saturday, “My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.” Every one of us should proudly endorse this view. We must reject the toxic lies of racism.
We must stand up for that most American (and Jeffersonian) of beliefs: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.