Rarely does a TNT editorial
provoke a social media storm like the one we posted online late last
week and printed in Friday's paper.
The editorial was intended to reiterate our unequivocal stance against hate speech and intolerance in all forms.
It also was intended to appreciate and support the efforts of the local
activist group TAN, also known as Tacoma Against Nazis.
Finally, it offered a few thoughts about how the group might expand its influence beyond street protests.
But the piece upset some people who fight hard for justice in Tacoma -- people we respect.
Here at the TNT, Editorial Board members talked at length Monday and
agreed the editorial wasn't as clear as it should have been.
editorial was partly derived from suggestions developed by the highly
respected Southern Poverty Law Center on how to fight white supremacists
and their ilk. We should have made the SPLC contributions clearer.
A central point made by the SPLC is to avoid repeatedly sharing forums
with hate groups, because it implies an equivalence between their
positions and those of their opponents.
In the editorial, we
wondered whether TAN’s repeated protests, held outside a suspected white
nationalist tattoo shop, are beginning to give “oxygen to the
hatemongers.” (People at the tattoo parlor say business is up since the
protests began; we hope that doesn’t also apply to the cause of white
We should have noted that SPLC suggests holding
alternate events some distance away from points of conflict because
“confrontations serve only the perpetrators.”
We also suggested
that TAN take its message -- both warning of white supremacists and
Nazis in our midst, and of how to combat same -- out to local schools,
universities, churches and other civic groups.
We think presentations will deepen public understanding of the threat and how to fight it.
Reading some of the critique of our editorial, we believe some readers
thought we were suggesting panel discussions that give equal time to
white supremacists. Our intent was to encourage what SPLC suggests: To
form a diverse coalition and “gather ideas from everyone, get everyone
involved” in the stand against hate.
After our editorial
appeared, we observed the TAN Facebook page now mentions upcoming
programs with two Tacoma Rotary clubs. That’s great, and we look forward
to more of the same.
No single group has all the answers: Not
TAN, not SPLC, certainly not this Editorial Board. But one year after
Charlottesville, joining forces to fight race-based fanaticism in
America is as important as ever. The news media, including us, have a
responsibility to help deliver that message clearly.
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