The Danger of Intolerance

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out–
because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out–
because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out–
because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me–
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

–Reverend Martin Niemöller

When do people know they are contributing to intolerance that may lead to violence? When is silence complicity?  When is it time to stand up to those voices and say, "Enough"?

The afternoon of July 19th, the Oakland Police Department called the Tides office to inform us that the man who survived a shoot-out with the California Highway Patrol last Saturday night had intended to target our organization. It was shocking: an American seeking to reign terror on fellow Americans.

In disbelief, we have watched events unfold resulting in the news media reporting publicly that we were one of the intended targets. And others in the media suggest a connection between this sad soul's violent intentions with the frequent, inflammatory and highly inaccurate, portrayal of Tides promoted in the conservative media.

Realizing that my colleagues and I narrowly missed being the target of an unbalanced extremist's weapon is deeply unsettling. Tides supports innovative, creative nonprofit work to address social problems. We work for sustainability, better education, solutions to the AIDS epidemic, and human rights. We strive to encourage every American to be as involved in public life as they can be, and to resolve differences through the honest exchange of ideas.

One wonders just what has the world come to.

On occasion, the shadow of violence falls on American civic life and it should never be accepted or tolerated. Sadly, it is often encouraged by voices who label activities of which they disapprove as "anti-American" or use some similar epithet.

This incident serves to remind us that it should be the obligation of every American, especially those whose voices are amplified by the media, to foster civil discourse and dialog among those who may disagree about public matters. One does not win an argument by inciting unbalanced people to violence. As Americans, we know we can best solve problems when we reach broadly across boundaries for the best of ideas.

Intolerance that closes our eyes defeats our aspirations. It is time to speak up because we all have a right to lead safe, productive lives without fear.

This incident has shaken us at Tides.  It also compels us to call upon our colleagues in the nonprofit and philanthropic sector, as well as all fair minded people, to call for an end to the culture of intolerance and embrace dialogue among those with differing views.   For more ideas and information, go to www.tides.org/discourse.

Drummond Pike is the Tides CEO and Founder. This post originally appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle.

10 Responses to “The Danger of Intolerance”

  1. BryAnn Chen says:

    We are Refugee Women's Network, Inc. are shocked to learn that violence and intolerance have come to this point. That an organization like the Tides Foundation that supports social justice and civic (and civil) participation and community could be a target is, frankly, bizarre.

    We are glad to hear that no one at Tides was hurt and that the shooter has been apprehended.

    You're in our thoughts.

  2. TOM SILK says:

    DRUMMOND

    A WISE, THOUGHTFUL, AND TIMELY POST.

    MAY YOU, YOUR DIRECTORS, STAFF, AND FAMILY LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER.

    CHEERS.

    TOM

  3. Satyam says:

    Dear Friends at TIDES,
    My thoughts and prayers are with you and everyone at TIDES. We are one of your grantee organization and we feel very privledged to be supported by you. It is because of support like the one you provide, refugee and immigrant women in the United States are able to rebuild their lives after being shattered by war and conflict.

    I urge you to not let the intorant acts of those who are intolerant of diversity in thoughts, words and action question what you do for a minute. I urge you to look at the lives you have touched and changes you have made possible. You are a positive force in the lives of many many people. Please keep up the good work and take care!

  4. Andy Olsen says:

    Please do not let the campaign of hate and, nearly, terror dissuade you from this very important fight. Thank you for all you do!

    And shame on Glenn Beck.

  5. Chris L says:

    Glenn Beck is the cause of all of this, he goes after anything progressive, he should be guilty of treason. Fixed News incites violence and hatred. They should be shut down for spreading so much misinformation and propaganda. I had never heard about this Tides Foundation before I heard about this shoot out, but it seems like you guys are doing some really good work, keep it up and dont cave into Glenn Becks hate. Keep up the good fight and show those Fox morons that they dont have the power they think they have.

    I dont understand why the conservative propaganda media has targeted organizations like yourselves. I guess they really and truly hate helping their fellow human beings, they are a disgrace to this nation.

  6. Steve Mooy says:

    Thank you Drummond Pike and all those affiliated with Tides.org. To fill a heart with the beating of compassionate responsibility shall drown out the beating of divisive anti-American jingoistic drums.

  7. James Richards says:

    "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

    I am repeatedly bemused by people who preach tolerance and equality while condemning those who don't agree with their position. Open your eyes. Look outside your own scope. Tolerance, by definition, must be inclusive, not limited to your perspective.

    Stop being a victim.

  8. [...] Drummard Pike addressed the incident, incendiary language and civil discourse in his post entitled “The Danger of Intolerance”: “In disbelief, we have watched events unfold resulting in the news media reporting publicly [...]

  9. DENISE GUMS says:

    Drummond,

    Absolutely brilliant and thought provoking statement. I live not far from the area where the incident occurred and at the time the Cathedral was hosting a relic of St. John Vianney of France; a 17th Century saint, protector of priests, the vulnerable, and so many.

    This man was apprehended on 580 not far from the Cathedral. I believe timing, prayers and the sharp eyes of law enforcement with John Vianney stopped this.

    I was shocked to hear Tides mentioned and investigated to determine if it was indeed the place where i worked before..and it was so.I couldn't believe how did he know about the quiet lioness.

    I called to check on you all...and frankly please continue being a progressive voice in a world in which the ultra-conservative right wing is rearing its ugly head.

    You call for the "honest exchange of ideas" needs to be fostered and the end to the "culture of intolerance" even as it exists in the left, the right, and religious right needs to be stopped.

    "Intolerance that closes our eyes defeats our aspirations. It is time to speak up because we all have a right to lead safe, productive lives without fear."

    This is so true..my work colleague told me that "Glenn Beck" identified and targeted you....this is horrifying..I dont know if he is capable of dialogue for that matter or Russ Limbaugh..but for those of us who are..we must fight for this right even from those we adamantly disagree....Silencing voices or perspectives has never promoted social justice...

    Know, we are praying for you...and fighting those in their attempt to stifle civil rights, human rights, just immigration reform, and justice.

    God keep you and be well!!! Oh, your hair's getting white..Aluta continua..

    MON AMPIL CHEY PALOU...Haitian..many hands lighten the load

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