To the Editor:

The people of Grant County seem already united in their horror at the thought of the Aryan Nations moving here. However, it is important that as the community forms a response to the Aryan Nations threat, we don't shoot ourselves in the foot. First, we can't ignore the First Amendment, both theirs and ours. Firmly disagreeing with their views, and doing all that we legally can to prevent them from establishing Grant County as the new home for their group, are not the same as denying their right to free speech. We have rights too, including economic rights, and their presence would cripple this community's economic well being.

Second, let's remember what and who we are dealing with. Like young teenagers, these people love attention. They love to be directly challenged and given a platform. We need to walk the fine line of directly challenging them without allowing them the attention and platform they crave. We do need to find ways to make their presence here as uncomfortable as possible. We need to communicate with them directly and simply that they are not welcome here.

Finally, we need to avoid lowering ourselves to their level and answering hate with hate. Our real community strength lies in continuing to be who we already are, people who can embody our nation's highest ideals and who love and care for their neighbors and fellow man. That's exactly what happened at the quickly-organized community protest Saturday morning: law-abiding and respectful citizens carrying handmade signs and American Flags.

Jim Kelly


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