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Dear Rachel,
Why worry about a few people driving down the street? Look at what’s been going on in every Democratic run city every night . I’m having nightmares of these black clad people attacking me on a street or in a restaurant. Look at what happened to Rand Paul and a lot of other couples when they were trying to leave the RNC. This is a Democratic movement and it’s going to be stopped, hopefully.
Be frightened when you see antifa groups because the are out to Burn Loot and Murder!!
I live in a small town in the south so hopefully neither one of us will ever have to worry about them but they are a national terrorist group of anarchists who will stop at nothing.
Peace and love, Rachel

Dear Susan,

Yes, I’ve been thinking about this, wondering how the fear feels on “the other side,” and I am sorry that you too are feeling fear. It’s interesting to hear that you are in a small town. I actually lived in Oakland through the reactions to Oscar Grant’s death, when anarchists came in and hijacked peaceful protests by breaking into stores and spray painting. I lived four blocks from where all that was happening. I think it’s different if you’ve lived in one of these cities, or for some people, anyway. One factor was, Oscar Grant’s death really woke me up to how African Americans were being wrongly killed, and I understood why people were protesting. It saddened me that anarchists and others were taking advantage of that, and much of what is being done in these current protests, the way they’re being distorted, and at times carried away by raw anger, also saddens me. And it wasn’t easy to live with the helicopters overhead, and if I had lived right in the zone where the windows were broken that would be even worse. But in strange ways, I also felt safer in Oakland than I do here.

I mean, I was part of a church there offering a free meal on Saturdays, I was with a lot of people who interacted with those who needed help and also those who deserved support and justice, and we had to be smart and stay safe while doing that, but it also felt like we were being part of the fullest society, and that was strangely encouraging and comforting. Whereas here, when the Trump supporters drive by with their revved up engines and their pictures of guns (and it wasn’t just a few, it was more than 100 vehicles), I think of how Trump has attacked journalists, how there will be no freedom of the press if he cements power. That is a much scarier threat to me. The way he is rolling back rules to allow companies to freely pollute, to spill tons of methane into the air daily–when I think of that and how the temperatures are increasing, that feels far more threatening to me. When I think of how he attacks anyone who criticizes him with violent words, when I think of losing the right to criticize our government, how that right is so essential to the freedoms in our country, that is so threatening to me.

So, you and I have different fears based on different experiences, different immediate worries. I respect yours, and I want to understand and empathize with them. I do not think they should be downplayed. But what I see in Trump’s behavior is this deliberate encouragement of the violence to increase your fears. No doubt he means to increase my fears too. So, perhaps for both of us, the work to do is to separate reasonable from unreasonable fear, to see the fears and honor them, and to try to calmly make good choices in the face of the fears.

As far as I can see in my calm moments, a Biden-Harris government would sincerely discourage violence on all sides, and bring together a coalition to address the many concerns fueling the clashes. So, that is the choice that I am making and I fervently hope others will make. But in the meantime, I am so grateful to you for sharing your perspective and the fears from your side without attacking me. I hear them and I honor them just as my friends here have offered support to me.

Peace to you and thank you,

Rachel

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