At the Selectboard meeting on August 22, 2017, board member Jeff Dunklee presented an eloquent and heartfelt statement on recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia. Watch here on BCTV’s video, or scroll down for the text of the statement.

“In Charlottesville Virginia, the weekend before last what started, ostensibly, as a protest against the removal of a statue resulted in violence between right-wing protestors and counter-protestors … and has since become a nationwide debate causing us to look anew at ourselves, our prejudices and perceived symbols of those prejudices.

“I must believe that there is little tolerance in our society, and especially in Vernon, for the vile, hateful extremism displayed in Charlottesville. There can be no moral ambiguity about the evil that white supremacy groups like the Neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan represent.

“Throughout our nation’s history, too many men and women… better men and women than ourselves… have sacrificed all in the struggle against the worst depths that humanity can fall to. They fought against oppression, intolerance, and persecution… so that we may live and think freely. We take for granted their sacrifices if we come to tolerate that which is repulsive.

“Our society has become so politically polarized … that we no longer recognize the many things we agree upon … ideas that must draw us together for our mutual survival as human beings. We too often amplify our differences and our disagreements while disrespecting and belittling each other’s beliefs and opinions

“Moderates – from center left to center right – can no longer allow extreme violent ideologies to flourish unchecked in our communities, in our nation or in our world. Terrorism, no matter its source, is abhorrent whether it is used as a tool to effect political change or as a threat to maintain power. The systematic use of coercion, intimidation, threatening behavior, and violence to achieve political goals must be condemned by those who wish to live in accordance with accepted standards of morality and righteousness.

“I wish for my child and, God willing, my grandchildren to grow up in a land where people will not be judged or persecuted by their appearance, their gender, their faith, or whom they choose to love…. A place where support for basic human rights is commonplace and where respect for human dignity is a given and not a dream.”

Jeff Dunklee

Vernon, Vermont

August 22, 2017