March 19, 2021
Of the eight people murdered in Atlanta on March 18, six were women of Asian descent. Whatever the motive of the young White man who is accused of this horrific crime, the most shocking aspect is the result. It represents a grisly addition to the growing trend and spread of hateful rhetoric and violent attacks in the United States against people of Asian descent. It must command the condemnation of all levels of government and of civil society. We join the related statements issued by the Anti-Defemination League and the Metropolitan Interfaith Council of Washington.
But condemnations accompanied by vigorous enforcement of laws against hate crimes and discrimination will not be enough. They need to be accompanied by all communities reaching out with understanding and reconciliation. In a word, a proactive nonviolent approach is needed. The models are to be found in leaders around the world who emerged from nonviolent traditions, among them John Lewis, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela. While President Biden’s efforts to address racially motivated attacks are to be applauded and supported, a respected, forceful leader who practices the power of nonviolence needs to be identified and put in charge of a task force to marshal the forces of government in countering racial hatred and prejudice directed toward minority ethnic groups, particularly African Americans and people of Asian descent. The task force, informed by the rich life experiences and insights of its members and guided by the wisdom of its chairman (or leader), would work to define the steps necessary in the road ahead to replace the torrent of hate speech and denigration with nonviolent dialogue, understanding and reconciliation.
*This statement is by Global Peace Services USA, a nonprofit organization devoted to supporting awareness, education, and research on nonviolent approaches to the prevention and resolution of violent conflict domestically and internationally.