Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Standing up

It isn't often that I read a column -- particularly in the Oregonian -- and find myself agreeing with nearly every word. But Rick Bella hit one out of the park this week:
Confront hate in community; don't ignore it

Bella describes the recent resurgence of neo-Nazi/skinhead activity in the Portland area, and concludes thus:
Several times this year, racist fliers and CDs have been distributed in Tigard in an apparent effort to recruit young people to the cause. Other efforts have hit Tualatin, Sherwood and Beaverton.

Meanwhile, the Tualatin Valley Skins have been pumping out their local-access shows to 121,000 cable subscribers spanning Washington County, part of Clackamas County and 12 cities.

At least six times a week, "Resistance Rock Radio" airs a potentially deadly brew of high-energy heavy metal tunes and "white pride" lyrics. The effect could be intoxicating to young people desperate to belong to something and looking for convenient scapegoats.

Another six or eight times a week, "Freedom of Thought" runs on cable-access channels, serving up neo-Nazi lectures over clips of lovable puppies, kittens and zoo denizens. It would be easy for the unaware to miss the attempt to link the ugly with the beautiful in the viewers' subconscious.

Several people have contacted me to complain about the shows. But there is little that Tualatin Valley Television can do.

"Believe me, if there was a way to keep them off the air, I would," said Marci Hosier, TVTV executive director. "But what they are doing is protected under the First Amendment, and we can't censor shows. That's not what public (access) television is all about."

So let me suggest the opposite:

I think you should watch the shows so you can appreciate exactly what we're up against.

In fact, I think you should tune in with your kids and then discuss the shows with them.

I think you should go to the Tualatin Valley Skins' own Web site -- Count how many times you see Hitler's face, how many times you see minorities blamed for everything. Count how many times "white pride" is used as an excuse for resenting everyone else.

Then, I think you should take a walk in the park -- make that Cook Park at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, where police, city and school officials are holding an anti-hate rally.

I'm not sure what may turn the tide, but I know nothing will change if we pretend this isn't happening right here.

If you live in the Portland area and have the time, follow Rick's advice and show up at Cook Park tonight to make a statement.

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