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Opinion: Silence not a satisfactory response to discrimination

Years ago, when “Take Back Vermont” signs popped up in the wake of the civil unions struggle in Vermont, and vitriolic letters appeared daily in the Burlington Free Presshating on gays and lesbians, I experienced how my home in Vermont could suddenly feel unsafe, and how neighbors I once thought of as accepting of me might actually wish that I — and every other lesbian, gay, or bi person in Vermont — would disappear.
In speaking with some of these neighbors, I heard from them that the intended message of Take Back Vermont for some of them was not “go away, queers” or “no civil rights for gay and lesbian couples.” Still, in the general silence of these closet allies and the silent apathy of many other would-be allies, the Take Back Vermont signs spoke a very different message.
I see a connection between those times and the times we are in now, with Donald Trump calling for a ban on all Muslims from immigrating to America. If you, like me, are saddened and disturbed by Trump’s words, please say so, and say so widely and loudly. Otherwise, it’s only the message of not-welcome that is heard. And it really, really stinks to hear that message. To Trump supporters who don’t want to be grouped in as supporters of Trump’s anti-Muslim statements, let’s hear from you, neighbors. Your dissent is powerful.
As we look toward the last two weeks of Ramadan, may we ALL feel welcomed and blessed to live in Vermont.
Anya Schwartz, Monkton

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