Longtime Westport activist Darcy Hicks writes:
Tonight at 5 p.m., on Jesup Green, we will come together to define who we are as a community, in a struggling country.
Anti-Semitic incidents have been increasing in America at an alarming rate. The Anti-Defamation League says that in 2017, anti-Semitic incidents jumped 57% over the previous year, and 2018 showed the third-highest rate of incidents on record. This year is faring no better.
Westport — as we know from last week — is not immune.
The discovery of a swastika, carved into a bathroom wall, has challenged our community. The question is how we deal with that challenge.
We need to focus not on “who?” but “how?” How did the plague of hatred in this struggling nation manage to puncture our town? Whether the perpetrator was a white nationalist (unlikely), or looking for attention (more likely), the ball is in our court.
And all Westporters are on that court, whether we want to be there or not. Our response matters.
According to Steve Ginsburg, director of ADL Connecticut — and a Westport resident — “The measure of that school, or that community, is not what happened there, but how they respond to it, and what they did to try to prepare people and prevent it from happening.”
True to that statement, Westport schools have handled the incident swiftly and expertly, with the collaboration of the Westport Police, the ADL, and the support of our elected officials.
Education is always the key. But education should not be limited to school grounds and school hours.
How much do you know about your child’s understanding of the symbol of a swastika? How do they feel when they see one? Afraid? Numb? And are there other forms of intolerance — to race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity — occurring in our kids’ lives? How can we help?
Tonight at 5 on Jesup Green, we come together as a community to learn from those who know how to begin answering these questions.
By this effort — not the hate crime — we will be measured.
(Speakers include Ginsburg; Lauren Francese, K-6 social coordinator, Westport Public Schools; Rev. John Morehouse, Unitarian Church of Westport, and Conor Pfeifer, Triangle Community Center. For more information, click here.)