TAKOMA PARK — The hatred that fuels the anti-Semitic attacks also powers hatred for lots of other groups.
“The people who hate us, hate lots of other people,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, speaking before a rally against anti-Semitism.
The rally drew hundreds, who braved the cold evening to hear speakers and sing songs. Huddling in front of the town’s gazebo, the crowd spilled out into Carroll Avenue. The rally was organized in the wake of recent attacks against Jews in New York and New Jersey.
“To accept one bigoted attack on our immigrant residents, or our LGBTQ+ community, means to accept all bigotry,” Councilmember Will Jawando said.
The Takoma Park event drew Rep. Jamie Raskin, who said the crowd must not only stand up for Maryland Jews or the Jews under attack in New York and New Jersey, but also for the victims of other hate-fueled killings. He cited the African-American Christians who were shot in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, the LGBT community that was attacked in 2016 at the Pulse Nightclub Orlando, Florida, and the shooting of Hispanics in August in El Paso.
“We must stand up for everyone who is under attack by this new wave of anti-Semitism, racism, Islamophobia and hatred for minorities,” Raskin said.
He rattled off authoritarian despots around the world.
“Anti-Semitism and racism are on the march. My friends, we are here tonight not just to stand up for freedom, pluralism, toleration and democracy, in America. We are standing up for those things all over the world,” he said.
In his remarks, Elrich recalled his own difficulties growing up in Montgomery County, but how it seemed things were changing for the better with the passage of the DREAM Act, which gave immigrants a chance at college, or same-sex marriage. But since then, the world seemed to have taken steps backward.
“We are not only where we were,” he said. “We are where we were on really bad steroids.”
Jawando blamed President Donald Trump for the rise in violence.
“I wish we could be more surprised with the ugliness of the last few months, but ever since the election of Donald Trump, rhetoric and violence has provided our nation an even greater waste, targeting anybody who is different,” Jawando said. “He relishes the angry mobs who stand up for him, and he winks at white supremacy.”
During an interview before the event, Meredith Mirman Weisel of the Anti-Defamation League said the event was meant to raise awareness and to encourage people to speak out.
“Anytime you see something, you need to be speaking out,” Weisel said. “No matter who you are, no matter where it’s coming from.”