Silence Is Complicity

Central MN, we need your help. #unitecloud has been fighting against racial, religious, and cultural tension for over 3 years now and we have seen thousands of people across our state join us in loving their neighbors – ALL their neighbors. Yet, in those same 3 years, we have seen hateful instances against our Jewish community becoming commonplace. A swastika painted on a middle school in St. Cloud. Anti-semitic jokes told on radio stations and in small group settings. These blatant acts of anti-semitism have further marginalized our small, beautiful Jewish community it St. Cloud.

The truth of the attack that happened in a Pittsburgh synagogue last year is that an anti-semitic terrorist, who was radicalized by white nationalist safe spaces on the internet, acted in a rational matter, based on the information he was given in his echo chamber. He was told that Jews in America were going to help the migrant caravan at our southern border – but, he wasn’t told in those words. Instead he heard over and over again that Jews in America are working with the “invaders” at our southern border to commit white genocide. This dehumanizing, war-like language made his next steps simple – he tweeted “I can’t watch sit by and watch my people get slaughtered”, and then bombarded a Jewish faith center, and murdered 11 of our neighbors.

Why am I having us relive this horrid moment? Because we need to understand what caused it. Truth be told, the very language used to radicalize Robert Bowers is commonplace on radio stations in St. Cloud, statements made at political meetings in our area, and even among folks running for local offices here in Central MN.

The bottom line is this: if you are silent, you are complicit. If you continue to listen to a radio station because “it’s funny” even though anti-semitism is part of their humor, you are complicit. If you hear an anti-semitic remark from your parents or grandparents and say nothing – you are complicit. If you see your friend post a dehumanizing anti-semitic comment on social media and you say nothing, you are complicit.

Rise up, Central MN. Put on the language of love and the shoes of peace – but, once you put them on, don’t just sit there. Speak up. Stand up. Say something. Do something. Move out of your indifference and into action. Lives are literally on the line.

“We need to remind the peers of the bully that they benefit from bullying even if they are not themselves the transgressors. Indeed, they benefit from it, but they are tarnished by it. To chip away at the humanity of select groups is to chip away at humanity itself.”Deray McKesson, a current American Civil Rights Activist
About the Author

Natalie Ringsmuth

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Natalie grew up in Central Minnesota and received her Music Education degree from Concordia College in Moorhead. She taught middle school choir in Georgia and worked in the church sector for over a decade. She now works as Executive Director of #unitecloud, a non-profit working to reduce racial, religious, and cultural tensions in Central MN and is a trainer with the CARE (Community Anti-Racism Education) Team at SCSU (St Cloud State University). She is a member of multiple boards, including the St Cloud School District 742 board, the United Way Community Impact Team, and the United Way's education initiative, Partner for Student Success. In her spare time (haha) she loves to spend time with her husband and 3 children, making music and playing games.