I penned the following in defense of Sussex County residents before the tragic shootings in Jersey City.
The N.Y. Times in the article, New Jersey Grapples With Far-Right Extremism After Arrests, is yellow journalism and fear mongering directed at Sussex County who overwhelmingly supported President Trump’s election. The Times’ attempt to divide citizens by political affiliation is counterproductive.
Extremism is nothing new to New Jersey or our Great Nation. History attests to violence and hatred perpetuated by radicalism and racism. During my law enforcement career in January 1990, I arrested an individual believed to have been distributing anti-black and anti-Jewish literature on public property throughout the community, ending a “hate campaign”. Non-violent acts but disturbing nonetheless.
The seizure of weapons was routine during criminal investigations and possession or use was not depended on one’s political affiliation or ideology.
Attorney General Grewal states, “The numbers of reports (bias related crimes) have increased and the belief system is not isolated to Sussex.” The Attorney General’s statement does not mean there are more incidents but only reports increased. Sussex County residents do not ignore acts of bias related crimes but report such incidents to the proper authorities.
We, as a Nation must stand together by condemning and reporting bias/hate related incidents or unlawful acts committed upon a person or private property on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, or ethnicity.
Our society is not perfect but we are moving in the right direction. Progress will continue if we stand together against extremism and violence.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught us that to justify violence based upon any political viewpoint is a recipe for coming apart at the very moment we need to come together. Now as then, we must choose to overcome deep racial and political divisions with justice and forgiveness, or deepen them with hatred and violence.
The NY Times has a Constitutional Right to express their viewpoint and their Right is to be protected. The Times also has an opportunity and resources to reiterate Dr. King’s lessons.
Let’s pray they do so.
Harry J. Shortway