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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Bethlehem Response To Charlottesville? Holding Hands, Prayer

Over the weekend, as the 34th Musikfest came to an end, Bethlehem Police Chief Mark DiLuzio had just one word to describe it - "Great!" Over the 10-day festival, over 1.2 million people visited the Christmas City. Only 36 people were arrested, mostly for public drunkenness. But 309 miles away in Charlottesville, Va., a  "Unite the Right"  rally ended in tragedy. Three people are dead. Dozens more are injured. A President first said "both sides" are to blame, then blamed white supremacists and the KKK, and finally returned to saying that "both sides" are responsible.

How did Bethlehem respond?

By holding hands. By praying.

That's what happened Tuesday afternoon at a 5 pm rally called by civil rights champion Esther Lee, who is also President of Bethlehem's NAACP. Nearly 60 people attended. They included clergymen, Bethlehem City officials and the Sierra Club's Don Miles.

"We here in Bethlehem condemn acts of hatred and are deeply saddened by the loss of life," said Mayor Bob Donchez. "We need to show those who divide us that we will not be divided. ... Tonight we are one with Charlottesville and its citizens."

Police Chief Mark DiLuzio stated we have devolved into a nation of "name callers." He said his father is probably "rolling over in his grave at the sight of American citizens giving a Nazi salute."n His father a WWII vet,is one of the 43,000 allied soldiers who landed on Omaha Beach because he did not want Nazism to come to the United States. "Well, Dad, it isn't coming here," asserted Chief DiLuzio. He said people throughout the nation are rising up to say, "We will not stand for or agree with your hatred and prejudice."

Speaking for the Sierra Club, Don Miles read a statement stating that the white supremacists are not patriots, but "vile and unacceptable racists preaching hatred and division that stands in opposition to the values of equality and justice." He added that "those who spew white supremacy feel empowered now when they see allies in the corridors of power."

Rev. Anthony Pompa, Dean and Rector of Cathedral Church of the Nativity,  said that, in the end, "it's all about love. If it's not about love, it's not about God."

Cordelia Miller, Bethlehem NAACP Vice President, said her family came to this country in the bottom of slave ships,"chained together like animals. Someone wants to tell me to go back to the good old days. What good old days?" Holding the American flag in her hand, she said, "This flags stands for something, or it should."

Esther Lee noted that Trump is the people's representative, and was puzzled that he did not immediately condemn the racism."I am very concerned about what he has not said," she observed.

Text of Mayor Donchez' remarks:

Our nation has had a long and difficult history dealing with white supremacy, racism, bigotry, and intolerance. Our founding fathers declared “that all men are created equal,” and it took much conflict and bloodshed over almost 250 years to live up to that. And yet, have we? Once again, we are gathered together to condemn the shocking violence in Charlottesville and the vile ideology behind it.

This kind of thinking and behavior have no place in America or anywhere in the world. We in Bethlehem condemn acts of hatred, and are deeply saddened by the loss of life and injuries suffered in Charlottesville. We stand with Mayor Signer and everyone in his city with hope and prayers for a return to a more peaceful time. We also stand together here in Bethlehem, supporting all our brothers and sisters in this show of unity and strength as a community.

We need to show those who would divide us that we will not be divided, we will stand here together as a sign of unity not division. The hatred that comes with racism, bigotry, anti-Semitism, and intolerance, will not be condoned or supported here in Bethlehem or anywhere else for that matter. We are one. Our anger and abhorrence against those who would hate us, must be converted to something more positive – to hope, to faith and to love. To quote Martin Luther King, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

Tonight, we show solidarity, not only for Charlottesville victims, but also for Bethlehem and for the Lehigh Valley. Tonight, we are one with Charlottesville and its citizens. Tonight, we need to lock arms across the many lines and boundaries of difference and commit ourselves to unity. Tonight, we must be tolerant of all that makes up our city, our region and our country – Black and White, Latino and Asian, rural and urban, poor and rich, gay and straight, male, female and transgender. Tonight, across the entire spectrum of all that is America we need to achieve social and economic justice and equality for all.

The politics of division and hate must end and they must end now.

To quote John F. Kennedy, “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crisis, maintain their, neutrality.” This is indeed, a time of great moral crisis, and we can no longer say, it doesn’t affect me - because it does. Thank you.

Portions of Esther Lee's remarks:

I was appalled as the President of these United States Donald Trump had great difficulty in condemning the acts of the KKK and white supremacists. I watched as he skirted the issue.

It is so hard to believe that the  President of these United States had to be shamed into delivering his condemnation ... .


We know that hate is alive in this area as there are signs daily in individuals who enjoy sharing their racist views by carrying the Confederate flag or wearing the sign of hate.".

(Blogger's Note: This story was delayed a day so it could appear in The Bethlehem Press first.)


Ovem Lupo Commitere said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

God Bless these folks. We must all stand up against this extremist right wing fanaticism in the form of the KKK and the Nazis.

Anonymous said...

More Trump Derangement Syndrome. Blaming President Trump for the actions of others.

Anonymous said...

Hand holding and wearing ribbons usually work. Kicking statues is even better. It's like a healing booster shot.

Ovem Lupo Commitere said...

To those who can somehow justify symbols such as Nazi and Confederate battle flags after over a million Americans perished between the Civil War and WWII is despicable. Did they die vain to have in this 2017 United States of America a parade reminiscent of the 1933 Berlin Nazi torchlight parade? Any American who can somehow justify this is spitting on the graves of those dead.

"We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." A. Lincoln

Anonymous said...

"The past was erased. The erasure was forgotten. The lie became the truth."

George Orwell, 1984

george schaller said...

Thank God there are still some sane humans amongst us her in the valley!