The Chinook Observer of May 19 had a front page full of exciting local news. Some of it came as a surprise.

The legacy that rode high at the top of the page would help to give all a boost. Such generous gifts to the community - a pool would be most welcome! The article at the bottom of the page left many feeling down. For whom were the four Lomg Beach councilmen speaking when they voted to support the ill-conceived law in Arizona that sets one community against another?

We don't live in Long Beach city. We can't vote for those who sit on the council, but we are affected by those who do. We all live "in" Long Beach to the extent that we all live on the Long Beach Peninsula. There are few outsiders who would know the difference between incorporated and unincorporated Long Beach, or for that matter, the difference between Seaside and Surfside. We are, for good or ill, all Long Beach.

For the most part, that serves us well. We like being part of our extended community. We recognize that most people here on the 'Pen' know that we are all in this together, sink or swim, and try to help one another out.

The vote to support the spirit at least of the Arizona immigration law, therefore, came as a surprise. The law seemed to be an obvious attempt to demonize a group as "other," to make an "us versus them" situation out of what is really just "us and us."

We work together, we live here together, we know each other, and we are all residents of Long Beach. If we stand together, we are strong. If we allow people to erect false walls and separate us, we are weakened.

Pastor Martin Neumoeller wrote a short poem after World War II warning of the perils of political apathy:

THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,

and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,

and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,

and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

THEN THEY CAME for me

and by that time no one was left to speak up.

The law against one group, however that group is defined, is the first step in the dangerous direction of laws against other groups. How long will we allow a few to lead us along this road before "our" group is listed? At what point will we say, "This is enough!"? When will we recognize that it is we ourselves, as well as our brothers and sisters who are in peril?

Please, withdraw this evidently last minute and little considered ("... spontaneously ended its meeting") vote to support a law that is most probably unconstitutional, and is by any measure unconscionable.

We should remember Edmund Burke's famous quotation, "All that is necessary for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing." Let us as a community stand together against the evil of separation, or to use the now more familiar word for it, apartheid.

Debby Moggio, Clyde Zaidins, Nicole Hart-Watson, Irma Moreno, Sondra Eaton and Judy Night

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