Statement of intent/press release December 2009
When acts of racist hatred erupt into the consciousness of a community, people of good will often feel angry and frustrated, wondering what they can do to oppose it. Ithaca has faced its share of these situations, most recently with racist hate messages being left on the answering machine at the Greater Ithaca Activities Center (GIAC). Incidents like this happen in a quieter way more often than many people may realize.
The “United Against Hate” Campaign was started as a way for citizens to stand up and be counted in opposition to racist hate-speech and behavior. It was inspired by the events in Billings, Montana in 1994 when the KKK and other white supremacists became more active in the town. Acts of vandalism were carried out against synagogues and Jewish cemeteries. When a brick was thrown through a Jewish child’s window which displayed a menorah at Hanukah time, the entire community rallied. A paper menorah was printed in the newspaper and people of all faiths cut them out and displayed them as a symbol of solidarity and a stand against hate.
The current project distributes paper signs to display in car and home windows and buttons to wear bearing the message, “United Against Hate.” This is a way for individuals to show their opposition to the small but loud minority of those who use hate speech to try to intimidate and instill fear.
Through this action, the overwhelming majority of us who want to live in a world of respect and understanding can become more visible and show the strength of our numbers and our commitment. Racist hate speech and behavior are not acceptable. By the simple act of becoming visible, we can demonstrate that when we stand together against hate, it loses the power to terrorize.