Like all right-thinking citizens of the world I was shocked, saddened and sickened by the tragic bombings in New York City and Washington DC. As I sat in my office on Sept. 11, located at 9th Street and Broadway just two miles from the World Trade Center, and watched the waves of people stream uptown, my emotions ran from fear to empathy to hatred for the perpetrators of this heinous act.
My father taught me not to use the word "hate" ("You hate Hitler, you don't hate school work," he would tell me), but I don't think that hate is too strong an emotion when connected to this tragedy. Until we bring the global, anti-Western values, anti-civilized world terrorist network to justice, I'll hate those that committed this crime and those that support them in those efforts.
However, there is another kind of hatred unleashed in America - the hatred of those that look different from us, the hatred of small-minded ignorant Americans and members of the Port Washington community who attack people and places because they, or the owners of local establishments, are Americans whose family origins began somewhere east of Europe. We've all started to hear the stories - local youth fighting with Arab Americans in New Jersey, a turban-wearing Sikh beaten with a baseball bat in Brooklyn, an innocent "Arab-looking" man shot in Arizona. And in Port Washington, those looking for a reason to hate, breaking the windows of the Indian Restaurant Diwan and the Shore Road Dunkin Donuts. These acts are cause for alarm because religious, racial and cultural hatred begins with false generalizations and small criminal acts of intolerance.
I know that Port Washington stands together as one community to support the victims of the bombings and their families. Our town has a history of generosity to those that have suffered or are less fortunate. But we must also stand together in support of all law-abiding, patriotic and productive residents and businesses of Port Washington. All American communities need to be places of support and love in the difficult days and months ahead. Let us not hate each other. As we so tragically learned on Sept. 11, there are already plenty of people who hate Americans - Americans of all races and religions.