As a board member of Congregation Beth El, I view with alarm the reported creation of a militaristic camp led by individuals clearly espousing neo-Nazi extremist views in northern Penobscot County.
History has clearly shown that extremist misogynistic rhetoric typically precedes violent acts directed against marginalized groups. Because Bangor is the nearest population center to the camp reportedly being created, I fear we are the closest and likeliest target of individuals who wish to impose their hateful political and ethnocentric beliefs on our country.
Our religious communities, nowadays, are struggling to meet the financial burden that their security requires. It is regrettable that our financial resources are being directed to our congregants’ physical safety at the expense of other faith-based pursuits, including the moral education of our children and active contributions to the betterment of the greater Bangor community.
We do not want to be another example of a community victimized by violence like Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue or Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas. We do not want to be the latest reason for the U.S. flag being flown at half-staff or subjects of the “thoughts and prayers” of our fellow citizens. We do not wish to experience the anguish involved in mourning murdered and wounded friends and family who have been sacrificed by hateful, gun-carrying “patriots” who wish to impose their distorted views of freedom on our society.
I urge our political representatives and leaders, as well as all people of good faith, to condemn this neo-Nazi group and do whatever is legally permissible to prevent the creation of a permanent radical militaristic establishment in proximity to our homes and neighborhoods. I hope that our state motto, “Dirigo” will serve as a guide regarding this important issue.
Edward M. Harrow