One doesn’t have to wonder very long if folks on the extreme right wrote the KKK flyers that have appeared in local neighborhoods. One merely has to go to the website listed on them to see a page with downloadable flyers, some of which have appeared locally. The United Northern and Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is an active organization. A quick Google search reveals that this group has been dropping off flyers across the country for years in the same manner that they were dropped off locally.
According to Sheriff Robert Maciol, speaking to a group of concerned citizens at Jervis Library recently, this has been happening for at least two decades. News reports have officers within this organization claiming responsibility.
With this information so easily available, it is a wonder that anyone could view what is happening as a false-flag operation. Politicians can seize the issue for their own gain, no doubt. However, politicians didn’t organize a rally in Westmoreland; the people did. Politicians didn’t organize a prayer vigil at Delta United Methodist Church; pastors did. Politicians have organized response in Rome, but they didn’t have to. People are ready to respond to let people know that we stand for love, not hate.
We could turn our backs on the noise. That is the easy route, particularly if we are unaffected by day-to-day interpersonal and systemic racism. We can stay silent when people fly Nazi flags at their homes (Cortland County, NY, and Potter County, Pa. are in the news), paint a skeleton black and put a noose around its neck (see Oriskany), or march in the streets of Charlottesville, Va., or Washington, D.C. We can stay silent about the ways racism daily affects our brothers and sisters of color. However, silence won’t make hateful people go away. Silence will merely show us to not be on the side of those targeted by hate.
We cannot be silent. As a local faith leader, I regularly speak on our responsibility to renounce sin and the evil powers of this world. This responsibility comes from our baptism. The way of Jesus isn’t to ignore evil, injustice, and oppression, but to resist and reject them. Make no mistake, racism is sin. We must resist it.
— Brian Lothridge, Rome