Chapel Hill town council member Jessica Anderson took to Facebook to express her disdain for Silent Sam after last week's protests at the monument.
A Facebook comment was left on Anderson’s post in disagreement with her views and said Anderson was a "liberal parasite," who "perpetuate(s) lies and hate." Anderson replied with a photo of a donation to the Southern Poverty Law Center. She ended the photo caption with #DonateAgainstHate.
“Do I want to engage in a battle of words with someone who is a self-described Klan member or do I want to turn it into something positive?” Anderson told us.
She said she decided to make it into a viral campaign, after a few friends of hers found it interesting. Since then, the SPLC and others have gotten involved with the #DonateAgainstHate campaign.
The inspiration for Anderson's #DonateAgainstHate campaign came from an event called Rechts Gegen Rechts (the Right Against the Right) in Wunsiedel, Germany. Every year, local Wunsiedel residents and businesses donate 10 euros for every mile neo-Nazis walk for the event, according to The New York Times. The money is donated to a program called EXIT Deutschland which helps people leave right-wing extremist groups.
“So I thought, 'What a great way to fight back against something that’s really antiquated and really shouldn’t be happening in our society today, but is,'” Anderson said. “I like how (this event) said, ‘Let’s make light of it and not give people more power than they are due for their problematic ideas.'"
Anderson said she and hateXchange, an official partner with Rechts Gegen Rechts, are working on a potential partnership. Coordinator for hateXchange T.M. Garret said the organization is ready to work with Anderson’s campaign as well as others.
“I believe there will always be hate and there will always be a struggle to fight that hate,” Garret said. “But if people team up, bundle their forces against white supremacists, hate, bigotry and Nazis, we have a better chance to be effective and be heard.”
Garret said a partnership in the future could be effective to work against hate groups.
Anderson said she didn’t expect the campaign to grow the way it did and hopes people will get involved.
“I’m excited because it’s not about me, it’s about people having a productive way to feel like they’re doing well in the face of upsetting and disturbing behavior,” Anderson said. “I hope people use it however they feel comfortable to whatever charities they want as a response to a given comment.”
Chairman of Chapel Hill and Carrboro City Schools James Barrett said he saw Anderson’s #DonateAgainstHate campaign on Facebook, which inspired him to get involved. He began his own fundraiser for the SPLC on Monday with the goal of reaching $200 within three months.
“Being able to publicize the work that’s being done by people that are spreading this hate and causing the harm they do online is a useful tactic,” Barrett said. “It’s a great opportunity to get involved and do what I can to publicize donate against hate.”
Anderson said above all else, she wants people, including the University community, to get engaged.
“The point is to have a productive outlet for speaking out against hate,” Anderson said.
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