In turbulent times, a society's character comes to light — people either band together in the hopes of growing stronger, or alienate one another out of suspicion and fear. In the wake of crises both at home and abroad, it seems as though America is leaning toward the latter. Acts of violence and hateful rhetoric are increasingly being lobbied at vulnerable groups, but some people have had enough. On Thursday, hundreds of national organizations and notable figures ran a full-page New York Times ad: "We Are Better Than This" it urged, pointing to the uptick in violence in recent weeks.
It's hard to deny the deep divisions in America today. The Syrian refugee crisis, the terrorist attacks in Paris, and our issue with gun violence have been catalysts for the reactionary fear and violence that the ad condemns — as well as hostile rhetoric spewed by community leaders and lawmakers, and echoed by citizens themselves.
"A dangerous tide of hatred, violence, and suspicion is rising in America — whether aimed at Arab and Muslim Americans, women and the places we seek health care, Black people, immigrants and refugees, or people just going about their daily lives," the ad reads in bold. "This tide is made more dangerous by easy access to guns."
"When has hate ever led to progress? Is this really what we want America to be?"
Paid for by MoveOn.org, the ad boasts a formidable host of signatories that include noted activists, organization leaders, unions, actors, and commercial brands.
The #WeAreBetterThanThis campaign is a welcome call for peace at a time when the presidential election primaries are bringing out arguably the worst in some candidates. The past few weeks have been some of the angriest in recent recollection: women's health care centers have been the targets of increasingly violent attacks, Muslim Americans are reporting higher incidences of harassment, Black people continue to be unfairly singled out by authorities and the media, and unfiltered hatred toward immigrants and refugees show no signs of stopping.
"This feels like a tipping point for our nation," said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, one of the signatories, in a press release.
"Are we going to allow hateful rhetoric and the exploitation of fear to be our response or are we going to rise up and declare that we are better than this? We have seen that dangerous and divisive words can lead to unspeakable tragedies. We have seen that the intentional misrepresentation of facts can inspire hate. And we have seen that dividing the nation makes us less safe not more safe. Now we must decide if this is the path we want to continue down or if we're finally ready to say enough is enough, hold leaders accountable and demand that they represent the best of America, not the worst."
Cover image via WeAreBetterThanThis.com