Editorial: Stamping out intolerance

As one of our letter-writers eloquently points out in this week’s issue (“Defacing sign is heartless”), another act of intolerance occurred in the last few days on the Island. Someone scribbled the word “Nazi” on the McCain/Palin sign prominently displayed on the highway. It’s the second or third time it’s been defaced — this time with one of the ugliest and most hurtful epithets that can be thrown at a person.

It comes against a backdrop that is deeply troubling on a national level. Supporters of the McCain/Palin ticket have shouted during rallies that Sen. Barack Obama is an Arab and a terrorist. In at least one instance, someone apparently yelled, “Kill him.” Even Sen. John McCain could not calm this storm of racial hatred. When he defended Obama as a decent family man, his own supporters booed him.

What does all this mean on Vashon? It means that we need to stand together in opposition to intolerance, just as many of us did when the Jewish synagogue was defaced a couple of months ago. This is an undoubtedly frightening time for people of color; the flames of racial hatred are being fanned in a way many of us have never witnessed in our lifetimes. Even here on Vashon, it has an impact. We need to do what we can, individually and collectively, to support our friends and neighbors of color.

At the same time, we need to speak out against another kind of intolerance — that which led to the recent defacement of the McCain/Palin sign on the highway. That, too, is an act born of hatred and fear — one that’s playing out right here in our community and hurting an Island family, decent people who are a part of our Island community.

We can’t stop an act of vandalism that occurs in the cover of night or alter the virulent tone that has infected this presidential contest. But we can reach across the chasms of difference that divide us right here on Vashon and take a stand: On this small Island at least, we have no tolerance for hatred.

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