Letters (October 6, 2016)

Standing against

racial hate speech

We stand with our sisters and brothers in our cities, small towns and rural areas to oppose the recent actions of those who scrawled hate speech messages on the campus of Bethany College in Lindsborg.

It is disheartening that our neighbors and friends must endure threats and suffer insecurities, and wonder whether they and their children are safe in Kansas communities they call home; it is sickening that people who fear those they perceive to be different from themselves choose to use violence and threats of violence, as well as attempt to recruit others to join their program.

Tragedies of racially charged injury and death across our country have played through the media now for many months. Heal­ing will require that we acknowledge our fear and seek solutions that point to a future for our common good. We recognize that we too have failed to do all we could to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

Perhaps we can remind ourselves of the vision at the heart of our nation that, in this place, all will be welcome and accepted regardless of differences, whether religious, racial, political, or otherwise.

It is good to engage one another in constructive debate over our disagreements. But the actions that took place in Lindsborg strayed from debate into racial slur and outright threat to members of our communities. We dare not minimize the significance of such actions nor simply dismiss them as acts of free speech.

In the midst of disturbing events, there are also positive signs. President Jones of Bethany stated clearly his intent to turn his anger into love. Citizens of Lindsborg have visibly united to stand against the racism inflicted upon their community. Recently in Wichita, police officers hosted a barbecue event for those who were raising legitimate concerns about police practice in our nation.

The Bible encourages us that “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). Let us take the opportunity to reject the spiral of hate and fear by taking an alternate route that leads to a better future, to not only stand with those who are threatened but to enrich our lives by loving our neighbors and becoming their friends.

Shin-hee Chin, Lynette Cross, Christopher Dick, David Faber, Timothy Frye, Del Gray, Derek Hamm, Sara Hill, Frank Johnson, Jessica Klanderud, Laurel Koerner, Wendell Loewen, Douglas Miller, James Moore, Deborah Penner, Karrie Rathbone, Aleen Ratzlaff, Dan Sigley, Jen Stephenson