Students and faculty at the University of Oregon in Eugene have been up in arms since the extremist Pacifica Institute started holding meetings on their campus. Pacifica, deemed a hate group by experts, insists it is merely providing a forum for speakers with diverse views. Recent speakers at the U or Oregon have called Martin Luther King, Jr. a "communist dupe," others have denied the Holocaust and called the Russian Revolution a Jewish conspiracy. At a meeting last December, the Nazi salute was given. Students have been protesting the group, both outside buildings where they appear and during meetings, demanding that they be banned from campus. University officials say they feel torn between the need to protect free speech, and the anti-tolerance message Pacifica's speakers convey. What are the limits of free speech? Should there be different standards for schools, universities and other educational institutions? Has your school or town had to decide whether or not to host Pacifica Institute, or any similar group with extremist, hateful views?
During this holiday season, we remember another Hanukkah 20 years ago in Billings, Montana. A year of racist and anti-Semitic violence came to a head one bitterly cold night when a brick was thrown through a six-year-old Jewish boy's bedroom window, where he had placed the family's Hanukkah menorah. The town rose as one to say, Not in Our Town, and a national movement was born. That story was told in our first PBS film entitled "Not In Our Town." Hundreds of actions and campaigns followed, as our team traveled the country documenting the stories of community after community rising up against hate and prejudice with courage and persistence. Through their actions, the people of Billings, Montana have given all of us an amazing gift. Their story has inspired others around the country to create new ways to stand together when neighbors are under attack. At Not In Our Town, we want to share these stories of hope with you through this new site. Now we are asking you to share, as well. Spread the story of Not In Our Town to your community, bring people to our website and contribute your stories of action and hope so we can all learn from each other. More Not In Our Town Resources:
How One Mother Used the Attack Against her Family to Teach her Children Never to Hide from Hate Q & A with Tammy Schnitzer Editor’s Note: In the early 1990s, Tammy Schnitzer, a fourth generation Montanan, began chronicling a series of hate motivated threats and attacks against the small Jewish community in Billings, MT. A recent convert to Judaism and new congregant of Congregation Beth Aaron, Schnitzer was troubled to see how engrained the threat of hate had become in her new house of worship. She wanted to do something about it, but suddenly found her own home and family a direct target of hate. NIOT.org spoke with Schnitzer, whose story was featured in the original Not In Our Town documentary, about her experience and the impact of the community support her family received. Photo: Tammy Schnitzer looks out the shattered window of her son's bedroom. Courtesy The Billings Gazette. NIOT.org: What was your goal in chronicling incidents of hate against Congregation Beth Aaron?
A Rabbi Reflects on the Power of Faith Communities in the Fight Against Hate