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It is time: Strengthening a kind and respectful community

by BOUNDARY COUNTY HUMAN RIGHTS TASK FORCE
| August 4, 2022 1:00 AM

Community can be defined as a group of people with diverse interests, beliefs and characteristics linked together with common bonds. Successful communities are those where people live and work together in a civil manner and respectfully embrace differences. Through the democratic process, citizens have the opportunity to choose community leaders and make decisions for the common good.

Public schools, libraries, hospitals and places of worship are non-partisan institutions and cornerstones of a community. Non-partisan means free from any particular party affiliation or bias to ensure all people are represented, not just a particular interest group.

The Boundary County Public Library serves all county residents “regardless of age, gender, racial, religious, social, economic, or political status.” A Sept. 11, 2017, “Library Journal” article named the Boundary County Library the winner of the “2017 Best Small Library in America Award” and stated the Boundary County Library District is a model of civic engagement, more than fulfills its mission to “create a culture of opportunity,” and is a model for all of America’s libraries. “BCLD has joined with an impressive number of community agencies, businesses and institutions, including local nonprofits such as the county’s 4-H, museum, hospital, homeschool association, Fraternal Order of Eagles and the town food bank. Collaborations have been made with local schools and governmental organizations. For tech support, BCLD turns to Alpha Robotics FIRST Team 2130-FAB Lab and the Fab Foundation Global Community.” Our county library, with its clubs and activities, has been a pillar of our community for generations.

The public school system is another non-partisan institution and the backbone of a successful community. It is essential for a strong economy and ensures all students regardless of income or background have access to the same excellent educational opportunities. Created in 1947, the Boundary County School District has taught generations of students. BCSD administrators, teachers and staff serve with dedication and excellence, often compensating for inadequate funding with their own time and money. Some graduates have gone on to work for NASA, Intel and Boeing. Many stay or return home to work in our local schools and businesses and become civic leaders giving back to the community. We urge you to support the BCSD and the bond election on Aug. 30 to secure much needed funding to improve county school facilities which in turn benefits our entire community.

Boundary County has a history of being a welcoming community where residents are free to choose how to educate their children, live their lifestyles and practice their religious and personal beliefs. A welcoming community, however, is not an invitation to discriminate or erode civility.

Both the Boundary County Library and Boundary County School District have come under attack by some individuals and groups seeking to unduly influence these non-partisan institutions with their personal partisan ideologies. The use of threats and intimidation by angry protestors has become common at city, county, library and school board meetings. People often bring guns as a way to influence decisions. It is unacceptable to threaten any elected official, board volunteer or citizen, causing them to fear for their safety.

In recent years, a mixture of religious extremism and antigovernment militant views, some of which has been associated with the American Redoubt movement, has been growing in our community. Survivalist Realtors advertise Boundary County as the heart of the Redoubt, an “island of refuge” to prepare for and defend against a tyrannical government and wait out a societal collapse. Destroying public education and public libraries and overtaking local government are part of their efforts to impose their ideologies that exploit fear and anger and are often funded by dark money outside our community and state.

In 1987, a coalition of clergy, community leaders, law enforcement, civic organizations and residents united together against the threat of white nationalism and formed the Boundary County Human Rights Task Force to stand against all forms of discrimination, harassment and threats of violence. The Task Force continues to uphold its pledge to support the dignity and worth of all people and find peaceful means to eliminate acts of harassment and violence.

It is time for our community to stand together and step up once again to address this growing threat to our civil society. By rejecting hate, fear and intolerance, together we can foster and strengthen a kind and respectful community.

The Boundary County Human Rights Task Force can be found online at boundaryhumanrights.org. Contact them via email at boundaryhumanrights@gmail.com or on Facebook, and by mail at P.O. Box 615, Bonners Ferry, ID 83805. To read more, go online to libraryjournal.com/story/bestsmalllibrary2017.

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