To the Editor:
Hate has once again shown that it is not some intangible, ”national” issue that only infects other parts of our country, but rather one that very much exists in and impacts our town, as well.
Just a few days ago, our community experienced an incident of hate when only a day after Greenwich celebrated Pride Month, signs with the word “groomers” were planted all around the flagpole at Greenwich Town Hall flying the Pride Flag.
As is often the case, that particular act of hate was carried out in the dark of night and under the cowardly cloak of anonymity.
Unfortunately, incidents of hate – both anonymous and those done brazenly in the light of day – have increased dramatically since 2016 and the timing of that increase is not by happenstance. 2016 is the year Donald Trump gained ascendancy to our highest elected office and brought into the mainstream a “culture war” rhetoric that previously had been relegated to the furthest corners of the extreme right.
Over the past few years, we have seen the rotting stink of this hateful, culture war rhetoric seep into Greenwich’s schools, libraries and community spaces. One need look no further than the anti-student campaign waged by the extreme right Greenwich Patriots and leaders of this town’s Republican Town Committee (RTC). Under the guise of “protecting parental rights,” they put relentless pressure on our school faculty and Board of Education to eliminate any inclusive curriculum, books or experiences that contain discussions of race, discrimination and LGBTQ identities.
Furthermore, this culture war rhetoric has also infected significant portions of our local Republican party. For a recounting of the 2022 “takeover” of the RTC by the “anti-woke” extremists, one can simply read the several articles written by Dan Quigley (the former chair of the RTC) on the topic or just peruse their social media accounts.
This past week’s act of hate against our LGBTQ brethren did not happen in a vacuum. It is yet another manifestation of a larger culture war being led by the far right that seeks to delegitimatize and disenfranchise members of our community who do not fit a very narrow and false definition of being “American” and “patriotic”.
Those pushing the hard-right agenda in our towns across the country seek to legitimize their hate by claiming they are fighting for our rights and liberties. In reality, it is oppression cloaked in the guise of freedom against those that don’t look like them, believe in their God, or love like them.
Celebrating Pride Month by empowering LGBTQ voices and supporting their rights as fellow Americans is not “grooming”. Rather, it gets us one step closer to fully realizing our country’s founding principle of equality for all, regardless of one’s color, religious affiliation, gender or sexual identity.
It is incumbent on each of us to reject the legitimization of hate by always vocally condemning acts of hate like what transpired this week at Town Hall. As we approach the July 4th holiday season, hopefully, we can all reflect on what each of us can do to create an America that truly embraces and includes all of our fellow citizens.
Pierson is writing on behalf of Indivisible Greenwich