Let the Light of Justice Drive Out the Shadow of Hatred

-By Rabbi Barry Diamond

As you may have heard, a number of weeks ago a small group of neo-Nazis stood on the Borchard Road overpass in Newbury Park, unfurled a hate-filled banner, and recorded the incident, presumably for purposes of recruitment. Following this incident, Councilmember Claudia Bill-de la Peña reached out to the NAACP and several other civic and religious leaders, including me, to draft and support a resolution condemning white supremacy and racism of any kind and affirming the desire to create a community free of hatred. I was asked to be one of the speakers at last night’s city council meeting. Below are my edited comments.

I’m Barry Diamond, Rabbi at Temple Adat Elohim and an active member of the Conejo Valley Interfaith Association. I appreciate the proposal being considered. We all know of the ongoing challenges presented by racism, antisemitism, and the hatred of individuals intent on lifting themselves up by treading on the souls of their neighbors. The recent handful of white supremacists on that Borchard Road overpass is a small and concerning reminder of hatred’s persistence. There are thoughtful people urging the council to take greater action and others urging them to ignore this incident because it draws more attention to this small group, giving them the exposure they want.

Beyond the condemnation of these merchants of fear and hate, this resolution affirms our desire to create a community that encourages each of its citizens to swim in a pool of safety and justice. When we see those vulgar acts on the Borchard overpass, when we see people hoping to fuel our fears, our mouths run dry. It is at these times when we must dip our cups in the well-water of our shared values and offer a drink to those who are frightened. When you, our city leaders, actively reaffirm the shared principles that allow us to thrive as a community, then we, as citizens, will actively work with you to strengthen our city of light and drive out the dark shadows that occasionally pass through our streets.