Letter to the Editor: Reject hate and incivility toward everyone

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Kirstjen Nielsen
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To the editor:

What has happened to civility and good manners in Alexandria? This past Friday, two dozen or so people assembled themselves in front of Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen’s home in the early morning hours to demonstrate their displeasure with a Trump administration policy regarding the handling of immigrants who chose to enter the United States in clear violation of the law. Nielsen has become the face of this issue, even though she didn’t set the policy and is simply fulfilling her obligation to her boss to do the job he engaged her to do. However, the protesters chose to focus their attentions on her.

This is not the behavior of the Alexandrians I grew up with. Nielsen is an Alexandria resident, and when she is home, she is a neighbor, just like the rest of us, and should be allowed to feel safe and welcome in her neighborhood, just like the rest of us. If anyone has an issue with her work, or her job, it should be addressed at her workplace. That members of our community have elected to verbally assault her at her home is deplorable. I am embarrassed and ashamed on their behalf.

Further, on Sunday, on the West End of King Street, I discovered a poster with Nielsen’s face on it, with the words “Repent, Resign or Relocate” superimposed over the image. I removed it and put it where it belonged – in the trash can. This kind of language is alarmingly reminiscent of Nazism, and doesn’t reflect the sentiment of “Reject Hate” and other similarly worded yard signs that can be found on many Alexandria lawns.

Finally, later that same day, as I was driving on Saint Asaph Street, I saw a young man walking down the sidewalk wearing a “Virginia is for” t-shirt, but instead of the usual “lovers” it said “haters.” So now this rhetoric has reached the point that the bad behavior of those who are unhappy with the current administration has become so influential it has impacted a decades-long PR campaign to draw visitors to the entire Commonwealth.

It is my hope that our city leaders will prevail upon their constituents to end this kind of activity in Alexandria. This is a peaceful, welcoming and inclusive town, or so we have always believed. As long as there are individuals who feel that their beliefs trump the rights of their fellow citizens to live in a quiet and safe environment, however, peace and inclusion will become a thing of the past.

-Lee Ann Gardner, Alexandria

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