Hate message never had a chance
Wellsville Daily Reporter
When the results of the 2016 presidential election were finalized, some of the hate that was shown at rallies, on social media and even at the kitchen table reared its ugly head.
Images of vandalism, racist and anti-Semitic acts and signs were popping up in the media and the Internet.
The largest and simplest image was in Wellsville. A large softball dugout with a large swastika and the words, in all caps, Make America White Again.
Two things could have happened in this rural community.
More division or a bond to stop this kind of hate, no matter who you voted for.
The latter happened.
This newspaper was questioned right off the bat on why we would publish such an image after it was reported to us. Some readers made an excellent point — this could trigger copycats.
To us, the answer was simple — it was news.
We do not publish suicides, we do not put bomb threats on the front page. We do publish someone getting arrested for a bomb threat.
This was a public display of hate.
But it also unintentionally served another purpose. Children, our family our neighbors and friends started talking. They talked about how this kind of hate is not tolerated. Hate toward all races.
Parents who have never or never intended to have a talk with their kids about why a swastika is offensive, or why certain words or graffiti or vandalism is wrong are having that talk at the dinner table.
Hopefully it’s happening nationwide.
As an elementary student, I had no idea why people would doodle a swastika on a desk or textbooks. On the way to school one day, my dad noticed a swastika drawn in black marker on one of my school-issued textbooks.
He pulled the car over, pulled out a pocket knife and cut into the hard cover, a perfect square. The swastika was gone.
During his time on earth, my father never discussed his time in the Army. Suddenly, he said, “I spent four years in Germany in the Army and that symbol stood for hate and I never want to see it again.”
His words and his actions when it came to treating all people equal resonated with me.
Whoever defaced that dugout didn’t hear those words.
The police were contacted. Chief Tim O’Grady, who has an open door with the press, made a statement explaining simple police policy and how they could handle
Even those comments were met with hate from Internet commentators.
Meanwhile, in a matter of an hour, a complaint was made from the Softball Association, the public was calling and coming into the police station trying to help with leads and the paint to fix the wrong was donated. Volunteers drove over and started painting.
They didn’t want credit, they just wanted this painted over.
The same people locally and around the country who shared the original photo did something else.
They shared the healing.
There were over 900 likes and 559 shares of the new dugout, painted over.
The person who is responsible for this may not have family or friends letting them know it was wrong today.
But the community let them know. The photo of hate from Wellsville is being replaced with a photo of healing across the nation.
And somewhere, my father is smiling.
(John Anderson is the regional editor. He can be reached at email@example.com.)