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WWU’s Ray Wolpow Institute Joins in Signing Statement Against Rise in Intolerance and Hate Speech

Western Washington University’s Ray Wolpow Institute for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Crimes Against Humanity has signed a statement with more than 90 similar Holocaust remembrance centers and institutions decrying the recent rise in numbers of hate groups and those who promote intolerance.

Sandra Alfers, director of the Ray Wolpow Institute, said this call to action was necessary in the face of unabashed racism and hate speech, including blatant antisemitism and attacks on Hispanics, Muslims, African-Americans, women, the LGBTQ community, and other targeted groups.

“The Wolpow Institute is joining Holocaust scholars and educators from around the world in issuing an alarm on the rise of hate groups promoting intolerance and hate speech,”  she said. “Together we stand in solidarity with all vulnerable groups.”

The Association of Holocaust Organizations, of which the Wolpow Institute is a member, co-authored the statement. It was signed by institutions such as Northwestern University, Yale University, the University of South Carolina and Seton Hall University, as well as individuals such as Holocaust Studies scholar and educator Prof. Michael Berenbaum of the Sigi Ziering Institute at the American Jewish University, who spoke at Western earlier this fall.

The full statement, which is accessible online or can be accessed here, is as follows:

Recent months have seen a surge in unabashed racism and hate speech – including blatant antisemitism and attacks on Hispanics, Muslims, African-Americans, women, the LGBTQ community, as well as other targeted groups. Journalists have been threatened. Places of worship, schools and playgrounds have been defaced with Nazi symbols intended to intimidate and arouse fear. White supremacist groups have become self-congratulatory and emboldened. As Holocaust scholars, educators and institutions, we are alarmed by these trends.

History teaches us that intolerance, unchecked, leads to persecution and violence. We denounce racism and the politics of fear that fuels it. We stand in solidarity with all vulnerable groups. We take Elie Wiesel’s words to heart: “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation."

Therefore, we call upon all elected officials as well as all civic and religious leaders to forcefully and explicitly condemn the rise in hate speech and any attacks on our democratic principles. We call upon all media and social media platforms to refuse to provide a stage for hate groups and thus normalize their agenda. And we call upon all people of good conscience to be vigilant, to not be afraid, and to speak out.

For more information on the statement or Western Washington University’s Ray Wolpow Institute for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Crimes Against Humanity, contact Sandra Alfers at (360) 650-7427, or via email at Wolpow.institute@wwu.edu.

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