HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Council reacts to irrational handbill

Written December 3rd, 2014 by Hasso Hering
Javier Cervantes of the Albany Human Relations Commission asks the council to pass the anti-bigotry resolution Wednesday.

Javier Cervantes of the Albany Human Relations Commission asks the council to pass the anti-bigotry resolution Wednesday.

Was the Albany City Council resolution “regarding the rights of all city of Albany residents” really necessary? Or does it give people the wrong impression? Does it make them think the city or its current residents have something for which to atone?

The city council passed the resolution Wednesday on a 4-1 vote. (Floyd Collins was not present.) Only Councilor Rich Kellum was willing to vote no and risk the opprobrium that comes from going against the politically correct grain. He said he had been the object of a slur during his campaign and wished that if the council was going to condemn bigotry it would “include the entire problem.”

The Albany Human Relations Commission, formed several years ago to help integrate Latinos in the wider community, urged the council to adopt the resolution. The text denounces as “race hate literature” a handbill someone left on some windshields of cars parked near the Nov. 11 Veterans day parade. It says the flier was not only an affront to veterans but an insult to the people of Albany “who are working to overcome an historic legacy of racial bias, discrimination and exclusion.” It asserts that “it is well known that racist messages that go unchallenged fester and multiply creating division in our community and hardships for the minority members of our community.” And it has the council committing itself to be “vigilant in defense of the rights of all people, proactive in our attempts to be a welcoming community for all peoples (sic) looking for a better life, and steadfast and vigorous in condemning all forms of hate and bigotry.”

Five speakers from the public all made the same point, that if we ignore history we may have to repeat it, and so forth. They recalled the Holocaust and Jim Crow. But that’s not exactly in line with some anonymous character putting a nonsensical message on windshields and then slinking away.

The resolution’s bit about “our attempts to be a welcoming community” troubled Mayor Sharon Konopa, who said she’s lived in Albany her entire life and it’s always been a welcoming community. She had not seen the flier which prompted all this until the council got copies Wednesday night.

“Diversity is a code word for white genocide,” the flier claims. It lists a couple of website addresses and for about eight short paragraphs rants irrationally about race in this and other countries. It also refers to “I,” and Konopa had heard reports of a similar fliers from Eugene, so it could be the work of a single person traveling from place to place looking for attention.

Attention is what he got, indirectly, in the form of action by the Albany City Council and an official resolution on the city’s books. It’s way more than this character and his views deserved. (hh)



18 responses to “Council reacts to irrational handbill”

  1. Ray Kopczynski says:

    Yes, “it could be” work of a single miscreant – or not. Regardless, it is NOT an option to simply ignore it. A philospher was quoted. Here’s another one that I should have quoted:

    “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.“
    MARTIN NIEMÖLLER

    http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007392

    • Of course. Except in this case nobody came for anybody. (hh)

      • Ray Kopczynski says:

        Neither did the perpetrators of where Martin’s commentary was aimed – at first. This is a pure no-brainer to use as a platform to espouse the exact opposite of the flier — regardless of whether or not it came from a single person or group.

  2. Bill Kapaun says:

    To be honest, how do we know the fliers weren’t planted by a promoter of the resolution?

    Remember a few years ago in Portland when one member of a bi-racial, lesbian couple was burning crosses on their own lawn while her “wife” was at work at the county jail?

  3. max stalnaker says:

    Graphiti analogy. So let me first admit I have put political material under windshield wipers. So it was a different millenia but I still got push back because it turned into a littering problem. I expect this did too. It was also sort of a cultural litter and this might be a way to look at it too.

    Maybe you would support a resolution opposing littering. The council can politely invite the fellow to testify.

    Or we could call it trolling. In my youth trolling was sort of a hit and run posting that the poster did not respond to the comments on. Maybe YOU Would Support a Resolution
    Against dead tree trolling.

  4. James Carrick says:

    Counselor Kellum said: “…..he had been the object of a slur during his campaign and wished that if the council was going to condemn bigotry it would “include the entire problem.” His response sounds a bit immature to me.

    I disagree with Counselor Kopczynski. The ideal response to such ignorant tripe is to toss it in the trash and ignore it. There are (and always will be) people out there that believe that crap, but nobody is coming for you, Ray.

    “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” – Evelyn Beatrice Hall. Seems appropriate in this case.

    From Ben Franklin: “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

    Judging from the massive response reflected in the number of letters to the editors of the valley’s two primary newspapers, there are many people that think distributing handbills with a racist message should be illegal. Franklin’s above quote speaks to this.

    Our Constitution guarantees our right to free speech. The Constitution does NOT guarantee that people must listen to that “speech,” There is no Constitutional guarantee to be heard.

    Whoever distributed those despicable flyers got what they were after………attention. Be careful what you wish for.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      “Be careful what you wish for.”

      No problem. Maybe those despicable cowards will show up in person sometime. Then you will see a serious counter demonstration!

      • James Carrick says:

        You miss my point, RAY. By acknowledging them you give them credibility. Treat them for what they are……….INCONSEQUENTIAL.

        • Ray Kopczynski says:

          In this we do disagree. I do not believe it/they are “inconsequential” to any degree — and need to be strongly stomped on at every turn. I will continue to advocate that path.

          • James Carrick says:

            I presume that the “stomping” you advocate is rhetorical?

            That’s fine Ray. You have your methods and reasons for them, as do I. Agreeing to disagree brings understanding, if nothing else.

          • Thanks, everybody, for your comments on this issue. There were a couple of additional ones that started getting nasty, which we don’t need. I’m pretty sure nothing more needs to be said on this topic unless something else happens. (hh)

  5. Rich Kellum says:

    I just do not like the idea that somehow Albany is somehow at risk because someone nobody knows put something on cars. The last time there was a hate crime that I know of here in Albany it was 3 low lives attacking one person who it was said was gay, did they get away with it. Nope, police, DA, courts, and Prison…….. WE did the right thing. So why then be worried that if we do not scream against this flyer that we could be the future Nazis………. a postage stamp on a mirror, patting ourselves on the back for what, while we do not worry about all the other hate that happens…. I am disappointed..

  6. Ray Kopczynski says:

    “So why then be worried that if we do not scream against this flyer that we could be the future Nazis……….”

    You make no distinction between this flier and the folks who go around the country exercising their free-speech rights by demonstrating against dead veterans?? I lump all of their ilk together and have no qualms whatsoever demonstrating in reverse that “they” are something to be totally despised in any way, shape, or fashion. I sleep very well at night.

    • Rich Kellum says:

      The distinction is: one is what people talk about and the other is what people do. When challenged with hate, Albany did the right thing, this reaction to what somebody said is talk only…. It would be nice if we got credit for the stuff that we did right without somebody comparing us to the possibility of being Nazi like. Talk is cheap

      • Ray Kopczynski says:

        Yes – “…talk is cheap.” But very necessary at times to be on record for our views. I think it is no different than your paraphrasing Voltaire (and very correctly). That is part of the conversation to be sure. But – as you say “talk is cheap.” We both did it. :-)

 

 
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