An open letter to fellow Americans

| January 14, 2021 1:00 AM

Open letter to fellow Americans

The Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations has spent the past 40 years promoting civil and human rights as enshrined in the ideals of democracy that encompasses promoting freedom, equality, equity and justice for each individual.

Over the past 250 years, the United States has made progress toward the goal of fulfilling democracy’s great benefits for all people. As that work continues, we face a growing serious threat from domestic terrorists to that evolving democracy.

Over the past 25 years in the United States, we have witnessed an increase in domestic terrorism with deadly consequences. The purpose of this open letter is to discuss four of these anti-democratic domestic terrorists’ acts including the occupation of our National Capitol on January 6 and suggest future ways to combat such threats.

On April 19, 1995 anti-government white supremacist Timothy McVeigh placed a truck loaded with explosives in front of a Federal building in Oklahoma City killing 168 innocent victims, including children, and wounding 680 people.

On August 12, 2017, an angry mob of anti-government white nationalists, neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klansmen, and other terrorists under the banner of “Unite the Right,” marched through Charlottesville, Virginia. They displayed swastika flags, Confederate flags, the Nazi slogan “blood and soil”(Jews will not replace us), and carried torches symbolizing the marches that took place during Hitler’s Third Reich. The tragic result was the death of a peaceful counter demonstrator and two Virginia state police officers in a crash of their helicopter. Thirty other individuals were injured.

On February 5, 2020, FBI Director Christopher Wray during testimony before the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House stated that 2019 was the deadliest year for domestic terrorism since the Oklahoma City truck bombing in 1995. The year 2019 saw 29 Americans killed in five separate terrorists’ attacks, including the deadliest attack on Latinos in American history when a 21-year-old white supremacist killed 22 and injured 24 other Latinos in El Paso, Texas.

Americans across the nation were horrified and shocked on January 6, 2021 when a violent mob attempted an insurrection by an assault on our democracy as they desecrated the national Capitol building, the citadel of our democracy and home of the legislative branch of our democratic republic. There are indications that part of the plan was to kidnap Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and kill them. Also pipe bombs were placed in front of the national headquarters of the Republican and Democratic parties.

The attack on our national capitol resulted in the direct deaths of five individuals.

Our national capitol had not experienced an attack overrunning and occupying the capitol by an invading force since the War of 1812 when the British army did so.

The aftermath of the January 6 assault has seen members of Congress harassed and verbally threatened in public.

This attack on our national capitol reminds us of an excerpt from Yale University Professor Timothy Snyder’s book “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century” when Snyder describes the burning of the German parliament, the Reichstag, on February 27, 1933, thus destroying the last democratic institution in Germany as Hitler said: “This fire is just the beginning.”

We should take the good advice of former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley from a speech she gave on January 7, 2021, when she said: “But we must stop turning American people against each other.”

We call on our fellow citizens of good will in communities across America to unite in a bipartisan coalition to confront and combat terrorism in all its manifestations by supporting: strict federal, state and local anti-terrorism laws; aggressive police investigations and prosecutions of all perpetrators; assist the victims of these heinous crimes; and hold elected officials responsible for developing, adopting and enforcing public policies that protect the civil and human rights for each individual.

We close this letter by reminding each of you with the wisdom shared by Edmund Burke in a letter addressed to Thomas Mercer when he wrote: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

KOOTENAI COUNTY TASK FORCE

ON HUMAN RELATIONS

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

JOINED BY GONZAGA UNIVERSITY PROVOST

ASSOCIATE PROVOST AND THE

GU INSTITUTE FOR HATE STUDIES

BONNER COUNTY HUMAN RIGHTS TASK FORCE

BOUNDARY COUNTY HUMAN RIGHTS TASK FORCE

SPOKANE COUNTY HUMAN RIGHTS TASK FORCE