IT LOOKS AS IF SOMEBODY disposed of our lawn sign last weekend without our permission. It’s not the first time, but the earlier disappeared signs supported candidates for political office. This most recent sign was what you might call aspirational, affirming our beliefs in science, the power of love, that sort of thing. It was creepy to think that somebody disliked the candidates we supported so much that they stole cardboard signs with our candidates’ names. It’s worse than creepy now.
Who can tell whether a missing sign continues a nasty tradition of political vandalism. How would we know it’s not the way a poisoned mind prepares to engage in mass murder.
I have no special insight into the murders in the Buffalo suburb Saturday, May 14. I tried to sort out what I should feel given that I was hundreds of miles away and have no family or friends there. I thought of sympathy for the victims, and relief that it was not happening to my family or neighbors. It was not a reassuring assessment our safety.
That evening I received an email from Michael Richardson of Hate-Watch Report which included two homemade banners the size of small bed sheets, one of which read “STOP WHITE REPLACEMENT” with an online address of the racist/white supremacist White Lives Matter group. The second banner also cited “White Lives Matter.”
According to Michael Richardson, the source says the banners were attached above Interstate 90, one of them was in Chatham, but has now been removed.
We have taken note of White Lives Matter before in this space. The group was recruiting members with adhesive-backed fliers in Chatham and other communities. Replacement, another racist fantasy, seemed like background noise until the murders in Buffalo, where that word was cited repeatedly in a manifesto by the young man who killed 10 people. And now it’s in Chatham.
This may be the exercise of free speech but it brings with it the threat of violent assault. Do not let it pass unchallenged and unreported. While hate speech festers there is no place to hide.