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Hateful acts don't define Oklahoma

Norman hate graffiti that was discovered Wednesday, April 3, 2019, morning, at the Cleveland County Democratic Headquarters. Photo by Kate Bierman.
Norman hate graffiti that was discovered Wednesday, April 3, 2019, morning, at the Cleveland County Democratic Headquarters. Photo by Kate Bierman.

The front page of The Oklahoman has carried troubling stories in the past 10 days about overt acts of bigotry and vandalism in Oklahoma City and Norman. They’re almost enough to make one despair, except that we know the person or persons responsible don’t reflect what Oklahomans are all about.

The first incident occurred March 28 at two sites in Oklahoma City. At a building that houses, among other things, the office of the state Democratic Party, were found spray-painted swastikas and messages such as, “White planet only. Gas the rest.”

The head of the state Democratic Party said the display was an indication of “how divided our country has become under President Trump’s leadership.” The reaction was perhaps to be expected (a note on the building door promoted Trump in 2020) but disappointing nonetheless — Trump’s rhetoric and actions have at times been reprehensible, but to blame him for the work of any buffoon is too easy.

The same day, similar hateful graffiti was found several miles away at a building that houses the local office of the Chickasaw Nation.

On Wednesday of last week, in Norman, racist graffiti was found at three buildings — an elementary school, the Firehouse Art Center and the county’s Democratic Party office. As was the case in Oklahoma City, swastikas and ethnic slurs were spray-painted on the property.

Police say the incidents are believed to be connected. Imad Enchassi, senior imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, said after witnessing the vandal’s work that he feels sure the same person is responsible. Norman police arrested a woman Thursday and booked her on complaints of making "terrorist threats."

In the meantime, let’s not forget the considerable good that’s evident in Oklahoma every day.

For every act of hatred there are countless acts of caring and love. Oklahoma is rich with nonprofit groups that help those in need. Oklahomans carry out the Golden Rule every day — whether it’s donating to, or helping to pack items for, the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, or serving meals at a homeless shelter, or churches making mission trips to impoverished parts of the world, or people delivering meals to the homebound.

Just a few months ago, Edmond North High School students collected $786,052 in their annual fundraiser, called BALTO (Bring a Light to Others). The funds — half a million dollars of which came from an anonymous donor — will go toward expansion of The CARE Center, a nonprofit organization that serves abused children.

That is typical Oklahoma. These recent hateful episodes are atypical to the extreme.

Enchassi said it well, after the first incident, as he noted the many people who had turned out to help wash away the graffiti. “(T)his is what love looks like,” he said. “Despite all the hate, love always wins.” Amen.

The Oklahoman Editorial Board

The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Kelly Dyer Fry, Publisher, Editor and Vice President of News; Owen Canfield, Opinion Editor; and Ray Carter, Chief Editorial Writer.. To submit a letter to the editor, go to this page or email... Read more ›