The ugly underside of society has reared its head in Manteca.
It’s been here before. And unless we all step up to fight it, the beast will return again and again with increasing frequency and viciousness. It may even, heaven forbid, turn violent.
Last week it left its mark on a house of prayer on South Union Road.
Someone left strips of raw bacon and painted vulgarities on the grounds of the Islamic Center of Manteca.
Manteca Police classify it as a possible hate crime. But let’s call it for what it is. It is a terror attack on Americans.
The vulgarities and the affront to the religious tenets of the Islamic faith are attempts to put fear into the hearts of law-abiding Americans.
Manteca should not treat this as an isolated incident. Our neighbors should not feel threatened simply because of their faith, their beliefs, their skin, their dress, or any other factor.
The evil that left its mark must not go unchallenged. It must not be allowed to fester and multiply.
The ugly words and symbols that greeted Manteca residents of the Islamic faith are threats to all of us regardless of faith or ethnicity.
We like to think that hate fueled by bigotry or prejudice is on the wane. Perhaps it is, perhaps it isn’t. The point is that it exists. And as long as it exists it must be kept in check. Unless we counter it by making it clear we are all Americans then all of our freedoms and safety are in jeopardy.
Last August, the FBI expanded its hate crimes tracking list to include actions directed at Sikhs, Hindus, Arabs, Buddhists, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, and Orthodox Christians.
Who among us don’t have acquaintances that fall into one of those groups?
Hate isn’t something new. It’s an infliction of man that dates back to the dawn of civilization. History makes it clear that stability, prosperity, and security are strongest in a society when people that differ in faith, ethnicity, and looks co-exist in harmony.
What happened at the Islamic Center of Manteca should outrage us.
Community leaders — secular and spiritual — must stridently condemn from podiums to pulpits the acts of hate designed to fuel fear.
They must make it clear that an attack on the freedoms and safety of those who worship differently is an attack on all of us.
History’s lessons are crystal clear. As World War II should have taught us, if we don’t stand up for attacks on those who are different than us merely because they are different those that feed off hate may come after us next.
Cowardly hate crimes must be countered.
If not then hate will grow.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 209-249-3519.