Letter: A response to Rep. Costello’s recent Op/Ed

To The Editor,

The following is an open letter to U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello (R-6):

Dear Representative Ryan Costello,

Thank you for making a public statement about Charlottesville (Op/ed: Hate is a dangerous thing in The Times of Chester County). We need to talk about it. Staying silent and pretending it didn’t happen is not an option. You defined hate as “a personal decision to decide to be intolerant and cruel toward another individual or group of individuals based on another’s skin color, religion, gender, ethnicity, or other similar type characteristic,” and we agree. The counter-protesters were not a “hate-group” based on your definition.

The only thing the counter-protesters opposed were those who hate. The counter-protesters didn’t care about race, religion or gender. They were there to oppose the hateful ones, again, as per your definition. There were a group of people chanting “Jews will not replace us,” which is a Neo-Nazi ideology. There were white supremacists and KKK members who want all people of color to leave the country, or worse. Those are the real hateful people. The people who opposed them were not hateful. They were heroes, they came unarmed to oppose hate. Heather Heyer, who was killed during the protest is a hero. She came unarmed, to support the people who had hate directed against them even if she wasn’t a target of their hate. She gave her life for the cause. Please use her name when you speak.

It’s not a false debate over who is to blame here. There is no organized “alt-left.” That’s a term made-up by the president to make it seem like there are equivalent hate groups on the left who are analogous to the self-described “alt-right.” Are there some people on the left whose tactics of fighting hate are distasteful? Sure, many of us agree that Antifa goes over the line sometimes. But remember, they don’t hate a person based on their physical characteristics or religion. They fight against white supremacists, the KKK and Neo-Nazis because they are hate groups.

Ignoring them only gives them more power. It gives them the impression that their views are acceptable to large numbers of Americans. This kind of hate will spread unless we call it out, specifically, by name:  white supremacists, the KKK and Neo-Nazis. Those are the hate groups. Call them out by name. The president won’t do it because he needs their support, they are part of his base. Failing to do so implies that you also want their support. Please call out the hate groups by name, it’s the American thing to do.

Additionally, we also have two simple and straightforward things that you can do to take a stand against hate. There is a resolution in the House to censure the president for his failure to call out hate groups. It’s clear that the majority of Americans agree. We ask you to support it. There is a group called “Life After Hate” founded by a former skinhead that received a federal grant through DHS for $400K to help combat far right extremism. Its funding was cut by the Trump administration. Take a stand and ask that their funding be restored. Thank you for your consideration.

Concerned Citizens Action Group PA-06

Jack Guida,

West Chester

Tammy Harkness,

Barto

Andrea Cauble,

Exton

and Claire Witzleben,

Wayne

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