Over the past several weeks, Bedford has been plagued by several incidents of hate speech involving swastikas, unfortunately, scrawled around Town by one of our own students. Fortunately, the diligence of the Bedford Police Department, and the cooperation of school personnel, have led to the successful identification of the student(s), which will allow for appropriate sanctions AND education to take place with regard to the behavior. The Bedford Police, in cooperation with the District Attorney’s office, will be forthcoming with information about the incidents.
The dramatic rise in unbridled anti-Semitism and racism during the past several years has been both frightening and infuriating for all of us who believe in human dignity, in the importance of kindness and decency, and in the principles of justice and equality. It is heartening that the vast majority of the Bedford community is committed to these values, but we believe strongly that our teenage perpetrators(s), however few in number, are energized by the currents of hate that are polarizing our civil society. Experience teaches that we can only counter these currents by being open and adamant, vocal and united in our refusal to accept them as the new normal.
As we believed several years ago when Bedford had to confront a rash of anti-Semitic incidents and continue to believe in the face ongoing microaggressions experienced by our students of color, communities should not be judged by these incidents of hate speech and the latent violence that lies beneath, but by the depth and extent of their response. When families and educators and the students’ peers say in one strong voice, “not in our community!”, only then do we stand a chance of mitigating the impact of such prejudice.
It is logical that the current Covid-19 crisis would exacerbate existing tendencies, with kids cooped up all day and many families in crisis. Crises can bring out the worst in us. But we are seeing amazing examples of the ways that this crisis is bringing out the best in us as well- the volunteerism, the bravery of our frontline workers, the creativity of our teachers, the cooperation between the schools and families, the collaboration between the Town and the schools, the many acts of kindness…
However misguided their young perpetrators may be, they do emotional and psychic violence to their targets, who know only too well the real violence that lurks closely behind, and they do violence to the fabric of our community. We hope that you will join us by drawing upon these recent affirmations of our common humanity to say “no” to these acts of hate.