EDITORIAL: 'Love lives here,' in Colorado Springs
Love lives here.
That is why more than 300 people showed up for a multicultural, multifaith showing of support Sunday for a Colorado Springs synagogue vandalized with a swastika and other anti-Semitic graffiti two days prior.
We do not, should not and will not tolerate bigotry, prejudice or other forms of hatred in Colorado Springs. Anyone wanting to live peacefully with others should feel safe, free and at home here in the Springs.
Sunday's gathering should establish a tradition in our community. If and when we see hatred, overshadow it with organized demonstrations of love and support. Show the haters they are outnumbered and unwelcome. Love conquers hate, so confront acts of hatred with loving mobs.
The Rev. Ahriana Platten of Unity Center in the Rockies said "love lives here" before explaining the image created for Colorado Springs by media hype.
"Colorado Springs is often perceived as a city of hate," Platten told The Gazette during Sunday's rally of support for the synagogue Temple Beit Torah, 522 E. Madison St.
Key word: "perceived."
The "city of hate" image has never been more than a fabrication by a handful of political activists and a few media allies. Facts do not support the charge.
If Colorado Springs were a city of hate, it would not have tolerated homeless people camping in public spaces years after Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins and nearly every other Front Range city forbade public camping. Our city leaders struggled with the issue, citing compassion for the homeless and poor.
A city of hate is not known for dozens of soup kitchens and food pantries that feed and shelter strangers, mostly with no questions asked.
If this were a city of hate, we wonder why the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials gave the Springs one of only four City Cultural Diversity Awards in 2010.
Voters in a city of hate would not have overwhelmingly supported a black candidate for the U.S. Senate, as they did in 2016.
A city of hate would not welcome the annual PrideFest, celebrating diverse sexual orientation, which has gone mostly unchallenged downtown and in city parks for 27 years.
Nearly 13 percent of Colorado's 5.5 million residents live in metropolitan Colorado Springs. If this were a city of hate, it would be the likely headquarters for a disproportionate number of hate groups.
The largely discredited Southern Poverty Law Center, which stretches the definition of hate groups to include religious organizations opposed to same-sex marriage, identifies 16 "hate groups" throughout Colorado. Only two are in greater Colorado Springs: 1. The Family Research Institute; and 2. The Pray in Jesus Name Project.
The Family Research Institute is a tiny, low-budget organization with a mission statement that says "to generate empirical research on issues that threaten the traditional family, particularly homosexuality, AIDS, sexual social policy, and drug abuse." Most in Colorado Springs never hear from this group.
The Pray in Jesus Name Project is one man: Gordon Klingenschmitt, a former Navy chaplain who made headlines for politically incorrect statements during one term in the Colorado House of Representatives. If he belongs on a scary hate list with skinheads and racists, so do a scores of other traditional preachers and churches throughout Colorado and the rest of the country.
Some of the country's largest 100 cities endured hate crimes surges in 2016. Colorado Springs, the country's 39th largest city, did not make the list. Research at California State University found the most disturbing hate-crime trends in: Seattle, 6 percent rise; Columbus, Ohio, 9.8 percent rise; Chicago, 20 percent rise; New York, 24 percent rise; Cincinnati, 38.5 percent rise; Philadelphia, 50 percent rise; and Washington, 62 percent rise.
Haters reside in the Springs, as in all cities and towns. This place isn't perfect. It is above average, as shown with the large and immediate outpouring of support in response to last week's act by hate vandals.
Love lives here. We should build on that, for all the world to see.