For immediate release
During the past 24 hours, we have watched with horror and disgust the events transpiring in Charlottesville. We condemn in the strongest terms the disgraceful and pathetic displays of hatred and bigotry. What has transpired in Virginia is reprehensive and deserving of the utmost condemnation. Violence, of any kind, has no place in our society and the violence perpetrated by members of the so-called “alt-right” is nothing but Nazism by a different name.
Advocates for survivors of sexual violence know all too well that sexual violence stems from the same hatred being spouted in Charlottesville. Sexual violence is fundamentally a crime of power and control. By dehumanizing others and sowing division, this movement of hate seeks to create opportunities for the perpetration of violence against others. While disgusting, this tactic is used all too often against people of color and other marginalized people.
From the founding of our country, we have aspired to create a more perfect union through the idea that all men and women are created equal. What has transpired in Charlottesville is nothing more than an attack on the sacred principles that are the moral pillars of our country.
Leadership matters. We call on all Utahns, all elected leaders at every level of office, and the broader community of non-profits to condemn hatred and bigotry. We will follow the example of the brave students at the University of Virginia, citizens of Virginia, and clergy of Charlottesville who stood up to hatred. These brave Americans held their ground, defended our values, and honored our country. We will not be bowed by cowards who seek to make a mockery of the values that we hold dear.
The staff, board, and membership of the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault are committed to the elimination of racism, hatred, and bigotry because for far too long they have been used to justify sexual violence and coddle violent offenders. We commit, in no uncertain terms, to the betterment of our society, to the expungement of this type of hatred, and we see this petulant extremism for what it is – a precursor to sexual violence.
In closing, we would like to share the poignant words of our Board Chair, Laurie Hofmann.
“As the proud daughter of a German immigrant, I am dismayed that this could possibly be happening in my country. My father was born in Heidelberg, Germany. He grew up during the dark days of Nazism. In Germany during the rise of Nazism, German residents, including my father’s family were forced to prove that they were not Jewish. Families were made to produce baptismal records going back generations to show that they did not practice Judaism. Friends, acquaintances, and neighbors were made to give statements attesting to what had been provided as proof. My family was made to produce documents going back to 1697 to avoid a fate that befell many of our neighbors and friends. I have kept those documents, bearing Nazi seals, to always remember the power that hate had in Nazi Germany.
As I watch hate mongers marching through the streets of Charlottesville and on the campus of the University of Virginia with torches, brass knuckles, and sticks I am reminded of the stories that my father told me as a child. These stories were about what it was like to watch Germany descend into Nazism. I can recall every story, passed down through friends, loved ones, and others that told of the deep wounds of shame and sorrow created at the hands of the Nazis. I was told of the deep division caused by Nazism that turned friends and neighbors against one another, these divisions sought to create an opportunity to steal a great country away from its people.
Over the last 24 hours, we have seen the same tactics on the streets of America. Fear ruled in Nazi Germany and that fear led to unspeakable atrocities. We have built our modern world on the vision that we will never again return to that shameful time. We will never again abide by the hatred and mercilessness that led to the deaths of millions.
We cannot allow this ugliness and hatred to rise in America. We must provide a united front and a loud voice that proclaims that this is intolerable. We as a country must be better than this because we as a people are far better than this.”