Elie Wiesel wisely counseled, “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” His words are true today: In times like these, institutions and leaders must take a stand and clearly state what we believe.
The display of racial hatred by white supremacists and the violence that followed in Charlottesville are in direct contradiction to our values. The Nathan Cummings Foundation stands with peaceful protesters risking their lives to fight against ideologies of hate. We will continue to support people that are directly confronting hate and working across lines of difference to build bridges, not walls. Our hearts go out to the three people who lost their lives, the injured, and their families and loved ones.
As a Foundation rooted firmly in Jewish values and committed to social justice, it does not go unnoticed that the marchers used anti-Semitic and racist language, chanting "Jews will not replace us!" and "Blood and Soil." Anti-Semitism, like racism, misogyny, homophobia and other forms of hate, are alive and well in American political discourse and are a major feature of white supremacist and neo-Nazi ideology.
Prominent Republicans, including Senator Orrin Hatch, urged us to see this for what it is and call evil by its name. The Charlottesville Mayor Signer said: “When I think of torches, I want to think of the Statue of Liberty. When I think of candlelight, I want to think of prayer vigils. Today, in 2017, we are instead seeing a cowardly parade of hatred, bigotry, racism, and intolerance march down the lawns of the architect of our Bill of Rights." Senator Hatch and Mayor Signer were joined by colleagues from across the aisle and leaders at all levels of government to support Charlottesville.
We cannot help but notice those who did not stand up and unequivocally denounce these outright acts of hate. This silence, as Elie Wiesel’s words remind us, is not about seeing both sides, it is the same as throwing in with the tormentors, emboldening them and weakening our democracy.
If we want to turn this tide of hate and put it firmly in our country’s past, we must unite across the political spectrum and across communities to ensure that hate has no home here.
Remembering our values and what we're fighting gives us strength and hope. Faith, love and understanding is the antidote to hate. We are grateful for the work of our grantees, fellows, and colleagues standing with Charlottesville. The events in Charlottesville strengthen our resolve to stand in solidarity with those working to build a more just, vibrant, sustainable and democratic future, and to counter darkness with light, and hate with love.
President & CEO
Nathan Cummings Foundation