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SEEKONK, MASSACHUSETTS, United States

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

About Pittsburgh (All we have is each other). CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE JESSE COLVIN.

We were on a campaign trail stop yesterday morning at Waugh Chapel United Methodist Church in Cambridge, Dorchester County. It was our second visit there.
Reverend Whitaker knows that my family and I are Jewish, and he asked if I would say a couple words in the aftermath of the Pittsburgh shooting and the Kruger shooting in Louisville.
I didn’t know what to say.
I also realized in that moment that for a 4th-generation Jewish Marylander, I’ve found myself off the beaten path and in some interesting situations in my adult life.

In college, my Arabic professor was a Palestinian from the Gaza Strip. I sat in a history classroom at the American University in Cairo and watched the professor draw map after map of the Middle East in which the word Israel never appeared. I taught English to Iraqi refugees in Syria in 2006 after college. My students were overwhelmingly Muslim. Soon after I arrived in Damascus, the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah kicked off.
In the Army, I found myself in an ambassadorial role I never anticipated. I often joked that there were two Jews in the Army Rangers — I just never met the other guy.
My job in Afghanistan required me to build relationships with Afghan leaders across cultural, linguistic, and ethnic divides. I often wonder what my Afghan partners would have said or did had they discovered my religious identity.

During our primary election cycle, a blogger in our district wrote repeated and sometimes vicious posts about me as a candidate in which he made assumptions about my background and policy positions he would never have drawn about a candidate with a different religious background. He would also come to public events and film my wife and me.
So I found myself in front the Waugh congregation yesterday tasked with making sense of the Pittsburgh and Kroger Shootings.
I thought about my first tour of duty in the Army near the Demilitarized Zone in South Korea.
Our commander was African-American from South Carolina. His grandparents were sharecroppers. Our number two was from Texas. His parents immigrated from Central America. Our number three was Korean-American. His parents immigrated to the United States as a result of the Korean War. Our number four was a white guy from Kentucky.
We didn’t pretend like we didn’t have differences. But we recognized we all took the same oaths to the same Constitution.
And that actually meant something — all we had was each other.

So I told the congregates at Waugh about my first Army unit. But this is what I wish I added:
When a gunman tries to shoot up an African-American church in Louisville, it shouldn’t be up to the African American community to shoulder that grief. When a shooter shoots up a synagogue in Pittsburgh, it shouldn’t be up to the Jewish community to denounce hate.
My message is simple: we all have to stand up to hate and intolerance.
There are people in the Pittsburgh community who woke up on Sunday and saw their community and country through a new lens. There are people in Louisville who awakened to a new reality. There are also undoubtedly folks in those communities who would say they didn’t need these events to be awake and aware of hate and intolerance.

There are people in the Pittsburgh community who woke up on Sunday and saw their community and country through a new lens. There are people in Louisville who awakened to a new reality. There are also undoubtedly folks in those communities who would say they didn’t need these events to be awake and aware of hate and intolerance.
That’s why we need representatives who will speak out and support bills like the “No Hate” Act introduced by Senator Richard Blumenthal and Representative Don Beyer, which would strengthen federal laws that combat hate speech, threats, and attacks.
This is a time when we need to band together, denounce hate as hate, and demand our politicians step up and lead.
I aspire to be one of those leaders.

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