We Are All Oregonians

We Are All Oregonians

Greetings!

I have a sad story, and a bit of hope to share with you today.

Last month I drove down to Newport for the No Hate rally responding to national marches by the “Alt-Right” and white supremacists. As I arrived, an individual was confronting the group, shouting and cursing angrily.

He then got into his car and hit the gas, hard, screeching out of the parking lot the wrong way through the entrance just as I was pulling in. I managed to swerve out of his way, but another demonstrator or a passerby could easily have been hurt or killed. As he drove away, “gesturing” at me, I noticed children in the back seat.

This is not the most dramatic exchange our nation has witnessed in recent weeks, but it is sadly characteristic of incidents we’ve seen from Charlottesville to Seattle. Quite simply, there is a malaise adrift in our country.

It begins at the top with travel bans, border walls, and tweets denigrating transgender service members. There are threats to immigrants who were brought here as children and have made good lives in their adopted country. That culture of fear and vindictiveness filters into our communities.

Slurs are murmured at the market. Far too many kids are bullied in school because they are perceived as different. Confederate flags flying from pickup trucks have become commonplace. And then one day we wake up, as we did here in Lincoln City recently, to find swastikas painted on three small businesses. Where does this all end?

We are all Oregonians. We understand that our differences are something to be celebrated, not feared. We recognize that our diversity makes us stronger. And we know that a swastika painted on any home or building is an attack on every home and every building.

Earlier this year, three Oregonians stood up on a train in Portland to protect young women being threatened. Tragically, two of them were killed and the third seriously wounded. But their example was inspiring. I trust that each of us has the courage to stand up and help a stranger, regardless of personal risk.

Would you stand up to help someone who looks different? Who prays differently than you? Who lacks a job or housing? Who comes from another country? Who was born with a different assigned gender or sexual orientation?

Could you stand up to defend someone who votes differently than you?

We need to learn to talk with each other. Learn from each other. Respect each other. As I said before, we are all Oregonians. Our differences are something to be celebrated, not feared.

So how do we come together when it seems each day we seem more divided and more confronted?  

Below, I’ve attached a Resource Guide I recently found from the Southern Poverty Law Center. The full document can be read online here.

“Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide”

Bias is a human condition, and American history is rife with prejudice against groups and individuals because of their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or other characteristics. As a nation, we’ve made a lot of progress, but stereotyping and unequal treatment persist.

When bias motivates an unlawful act, it is considered a hate crime. Most hate crimes are inspired by race and religion, but hate today wears many faces. Bias incidents (eruptions of hate where no crime is committed) also tear communities apart and can escalate into actual crimes.

Since 2010, law enforcement agencies have reported an average of about 6,000 hate crime incidents per year to the FBI. But government studies show that the real number is far higher — an estimated 260,000 per year. Many hate crimes never get reported, in large part because the victims are reluctant to go to the police. In addition, many law enforcement agencies are not fully trained to recognize or investigate hate crimes, and many simply do not collect or report hate crime data to the FBI.

THE GOOD NEWS IS… All over the country people are fighting hate, standing up to promote tolerance and inclusion. More often than not, when hate flares up, good people rise up against it — often in greater numbers and with stronger voices.

This guide sets out 10 principles for fighting hate in your community.

1 ACT: Do something. In the face of hatred, apathy will be interpreted as acceptance by the perpetrators, the public, and — worse — the victims. Community members must take action; if we don’t, hate persists.

2 JOIN FORCES: Reach out to allies from churches, schools, clubs, and other civic groups. Create a diverse coalition. Include children, police, and the media. Gather ideas from everyone, and get everyone involved.

3 SUPPORT THE VICTIMS: Hate crime victims are especially vulnerable. If you’re a victim, report every incident — in detail — and ask for help. If you learn about a hate crime victim in your community, show support. Let victims know you care. Surround them with comfort and protection.

4 SPEAK UP: Hate must be exposed and denounced. Help news organizations achieve balance and depth. Do not debate hate group members in conflict-driven forums. Instead, speak up in ways that draw attention away from hate, toward unity.

5 EDUCATE YOURSELF: An informed campaign improves its effectiveness. Determine if a hate group is involved, and research its symbols and agenda. Understand the difference between a hate crime and a bias incident.

6 CREATE AN ALTERNATIVE: Do not attend a hate rally. Find another outlet for anger and frustration and for people’s desire to do something. Hold a unity rally or parade to draw media attention away from hate.

7 PRESSURE LEADERS: Elected officials and other community leaders can be important allies. But some must overcome reluctance — and others, their own biases — before they’re able to take a stand.

8 STAY ENGAGED: Promote acceptance and address bias before another hate crime can occur. Expand your comfort zone by reaching out to people outside your own groups.

9 TEACH ACCEPTANCE: Bias is learned early, often at home. Schools can offer lessons of tolerance and acceptance. Host a diversity and inclusion day on campus. Reach out to young people who may be susceptible to hate group propaganda and prejudice.

10 DIG DEEPER: Look inside yourself for biases and stereotypes. Commit to disrupting hate and intolerance at home, at school, in the workplace and in faith communities.

###

To that end, yesterday I joined one of several gatherings in our district supporting DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).

More than 11,000 Oregonians are affected by the Trump administration’s decision Tuesday to end this program that allows people brought to the United States as children to remain in the country under renewable two-year permits.

These are kids who know no other country as their home and were brought here through no fault of their own at a young age. These are neighbors who grew up here, obey the law, have jobs and families, and now live in limbo in their own communities. “Dreamers” are an integral part of our Oregon workforce and contribute over $6 million to our state’s economy.

Through DACA, America made a promise which Donald Trump is now reneging on. That’s not the American way. And the result will disrupt families, make our communities more fearful, less safe, and damage our economy. As we struggle to deal with difficult immigration questions, children should not be the target.

I remain grateful to be in a remarkable part of a wonderful country. We don’t all live the same, but certainly we can all live together. I’d be happy to hear your thoughts on the challenges we face.

I hope these tips inspire you to stand up, get involved, and take a stand for decency, community, and acceptance. Please feel free to share this newsletter and encourage your neighbors to act as well!

Warm regards,

Rep. David Gomberg
email: Rep.DavidGomberg@oregonlegislature.gov
phone: 503-986-1410
address: 900 Court St NE, H-371, Salem, OR, 97301
website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/gomberg