Aberdeen’s xenophobes club is bringing another pair of GOP-linked anti-Muslim faqirs (feel free to imagine more descriptive mispronunciations and misspellings) to town Friday night to whip up more Klannish hysteria. The pole-dance analogy persists: the angry, frightened souls wasting a good Friday evening on an adulterer warning of threats to Christian civilization won’t see or hear anything they haven’t already gotten from the ugly stream of rage-titillators our SPLC-certified hate group has been bringing to town since last August. They certainly won’t emerge from their dank lecture hall with any plans for positive action. They’ll just stroke their fantasies for a couple hours, then eat meat packed by immigrants and drive home on roads paved by immigrants.
Strangely, the Aberdeen American News, which has made several hundred dollars already from sizable ads for the Friday Klan meeting, chooses to upbraid not these peddlers of lies and hate but the good guys, the Aberdeen Area Diversity Coalition, for not acting like the bad guys and waging a big PR campaign.
In an editorial today, the AAN says the Diversity Coalition has “failed” to counter the racists’ effort to “dominate the local discussion of refugees and immigrants and their place in our community.” The newspaper says that while the xenophobes are hosting “seemingly successful” evening programs (which a few hundred in Brown County have attended, while over 30,000 Brown Countians have not), the local Diversity Coalition seems to be hiding:
Meanwhile, the Aberdeen Area Diversity Coalition has been meeting every other Thursday at the Aberdeen Recreation and Cultural Center, at an inopportune mid-morning time. Though the meetings are open to the public, only about a dozen folks gather, mostly those who are sympathetic to their cause. The group has no web or social media presence; it has not sponsored any events on par with other groups, or hosted any speakers. Its visible outreach to the community has been minimal [Aberdeen American News, editorial, 2017.06.15].
The AAN implores the Diversity Coalition to fight fire with fire:
Today, we implore the Aberdeen Area Diversity Coalition — like the other task force, a self-appointed group, but with true nonprofit status — to go where the people are. Get a Facebook page going with links to accurate news stories, and talk about the real challenges facing Aberdeen.
The coalition should look toward local, regional and national speakers and programs who can turn the talking points away from hate, fear and mistrust and closer to understanding, working together and what it all means [AAN, 2017.06.15].
I dig where the editorial is coming from (though not their failure to more directly chastise the organizers and presenters at the hate meetings as paranoid, lying racists). But they are facilitating the false equivalence that Aberdeen’s hate group wants.
The Aberdeen Area Diversity Coalition came into being to do actual tasks, to help new Americans feel at home in Aberdeen. They are doing the right thing. The “Americans First, Task Force” didn’t form to do real tasks; they’re just flipping the bird at the Diversity Coalition’s efforts. They are doing the wrong thing.
The xenophobes bring mercenary speakers from out of state to insult local Lutherans, social workers, elected officials, Muslims, leftists, and any other bogeymen they can verbally burn in effigy. They fan their flames with incendiary and often deceptive articles on their Facebook page. They are not engaged in any real community activism. They are not reaching out to help anyone or promote civil discourse. Anyone who seeks an honest exchange of ideas or correction of simple factual error is shouted down and bullied or booted out of their forums.
The Diversity Coalition has real work to do. The time and money they would spend organizing programs anything like what the xenophobes’ club is doing are better spent on donations to Lutheran Social Services, on welcome baskets for newly arrived immigrants, on the language-learning materials they’ll be stocking in “The A Place” in our new public library, and on any number of other practical bits of social outreach.
I could be wrong. Maybe the Diversity Coalition would do well to host programs to raise the visibility of local refugees and immigrants, to help us see them (us… them… that’s a problem) as vital members of our community. But maybe all those new Americans don’t want that visibility. Maybe they find it not just unseemly but distracting to shout for our love because they’re too busy working, raising their kids, keeping in touch with loved ones still in harm’s way overseas, and writing and calling to get immigration papers through the bureaucracy so they can reunite families and friends.
And maybe we shouldn’t expect the Diversity Coalition to bring in outside speakers to tell us simple truths that we should already know: We are all immigrants. Aberdeen and America need immigrants. Helping people from other lands makes America stronger. I’d like to think truth and tolerance are easier to sustain than lies and hate.
It does not make sense to “implore” the Aberdeen Area Diversity Coalition to act like the “Americans First, Task Force,” because the Diversity Coalition and the Americans Firsters are different creatures. The Diversity Coalition is other-oriented, seeking to serve. The Americans Firsters pretend to serve but are really self-oriented, seeking to reinforce through noise and numbers their own fears, and their own selfish desire to keep the blessings and privileges of America to themselves.
Maybe the Diversity Coalition should respond to the Americans Firsters. But maybe to respond in kind is to be their kind.