On Recent Incidents of Hate Speech

On behalf of the Ventures in Community Steering Committee,

Ventures in Community, an organization centered in the Route 1 community that represents more than two dozen houses of worship and non-profit organizations, calls for accountability and restorative justice for the people who painted graffiti with homophobic and antisemitic messages on the “spirit rock” outside West Potomac High School after it had been decorated for June as Pride and AAPI month.

According to a message from the principal, the graffiti were discovered the morning of June 7, before the community gathered at the school for this year’s graduation ceremony. The rock was immediately repainted by custodians, according to Mount Vernon School Board Member Karen Corbett Sanders, who said police are still searching for the culprits. A further instance of cruel rhetoric took place June 6 at Falls Church High School when a student video recorded the burning of a stolen pride flag while another young person used hate-filled language.

Ventures in Community envisions a diverse and welcoming community. Our various scriptures are clear on how we should treat one another, for the golden rule is enshrined in every major faith. To treat people of backgrounds different from our own with prejudice, disdain, hatred, or cruelty is contrary both to the spiritual commandments and to basic human decency. We were created different so that we may know and learn from one another. 

The VIC steering committee states that those involved, as well as those who encourage cruelty and prejudice, should be held accountable. A just accounting should be restorative to repair wrongs and to heal darkened hearts.

The breeding-ground of tragedies is prejudice of race and nation, of religion, of political opinion. We can do better and our young citizens can learn to accept and even embrace diversity of background, experience, and opinion without succumbing to base instincts. We all can show forbearance, benevolence and love.