NIOT: How Communities Rally Against Hate

Photo Courtesy of Not In Our Town

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Last week, I wrote about a strange nonviolent technique used by Gunn High School and its community to deflect Westboro Baptist Church’s intrusive hate-speech. It turns out that Gunn’s creative reaction to adversity is not an isolated incident, but part of a national Not In Our Town (NIOT)-dubbed movement now stationed on a website which just launched Tuesday.

The interactive site is on a mission to connect “people who are responding to hate and working to build more inclusive communities” by documenting their hostility-defusing tactics on film and sharing them with the public, which was the case with Gunn. There’s a video that shows the time when 10,000 residents in Billings, Montana—the town that inspired the NIOT movement—hung paper menorah’s outside their windows after a rock was thrown through the bedroom window of a six-year-old boy who had placed a menorah there for Hannukah. The boy’s mother says, “I would like to have thought that if this [hate crime] had happened to my Native American community that they [my neighbors] would have put a Native American symbol in their window, or if it happened to the gay or lesbian community that they would have put a pink triangle in their window.”

Racism, sexism, and overall hate are coolly countered by these neighborhood groups (there’s also Not In Our School contingents), which a US map on the site’s homepage shows have sprung up across the nation in response to the thousands of hate crimes that happen yearly. A video shows Fremont, California where residents wore turbans and hijabs for a day to stand in solidarity with a local woman who was shot to death for wearing the Muslim garb. “That’s what we see shining through on NIOT.org—hope and action in the face of hatred and fear,” NIOT filmmaker, Patrice O’Neill told MoJo. “Now we have a place to share these ideas and actions. You have the power to change the atmosphere, not just in our town, but in our country, in our world.”

You can read more about the creation of NIOT.org at its website.

Follow Titania Kumeh on Twitter.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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