An anti-hate resolution calling for a celebration of diversity and an intolerance of hate violence brought some philosophical diversity to the City Council chamber Monday, including several people who believe in white nationalism, and several who find that viewpoint repugnant.
American leaders such as Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Ben Franklin did a lot of things that were not politically correct and would be viewed as bigoted, said Dan Kleve, who identifies himself with the white nationalist movement.
There were classes of people who were not allowed to vote in the early days of the U.S. republic, he pointed out.
"And it worked a lot better, to be fair," Kleve said during a public hearing on the proposed anti-hate resolution, which passed unanimously.
And the United States had politically incorrect wars, he said, including "against Indians to determine who was better at running national resources and the economy and cultural values. And we won," Kleve said.
The council's resolution is a business proposition to create a safe zone for a giant hegemony of elite business managers that will control this class-less, identity-less, race-less population of consumers, he said.
All five council members at Monday’s meeting — Carl Eskridge, Roy Christensen, Leirion Gaylor Baird, Jane Raybould and Bennie Shobe — voted in favor of the resolution. Jon Camp and Cyndi Lamm were absent because of health reasons.
Lou Braatz, a Bernie Sanders supporter who lost his City Council bid in the primary, took issue with Kleve’s history lesson, pointing out he failed to mention World War II, when the idea of white supremacy lost.
Braatz said he and others would continue to take action to make sure Lincoln is a city where racism, homophobia, bigotry and Islamophobia are not welcome.
Kaitlyn Mullen, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln student who said she was harassed recently while recruiting for the local chapter of Turning Point USA, said she worries she will fall victim to the resolution, because it is based on one person’s definition of race and hate.
"How is this going to be implemented? How are we going to define hate?" she asked.
Mullen said she fears police could "come to my door for standing up for freedom."
"Part of civil rights is freedom of speech," she said.
Sony Phan, whose parents were refugees from Laos in 1980 and were welcomed in Lincoln, said "we have our humanity in common.”
“The point is that we are all human; we all bleed red,” she said in support of the resolution.
People should not fear death threats or be afraid their addresses might be made public, she said, referring to Kleve and Mullen, who said they were afraid to have their addresses made public.
Everyone has a right to their feelings, to their beliefs, she said. “We just need to respect one another and just care.”
The council resolution is largely symbolic, a response to the recent violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a woman was killed when a car slammed into a group of counter-protesters during a rally of white nationalist and other right-wing groups.
“What we want to do is affirm that none of us are powerless in the face of hate. There are things we can do respectfully,” said Gaylor Baird. "But we cannot be silent.”
The resolution refers to the “recent national and regional incidents of white nationalism, hate crimes, discrimination, sexual harassment and assault and fear of a trend toward more of these crimes in the future.”
And it calls on Lincoln residents to celebrate each other’s differences and to speak out against acts of bullying, discrimination and hate violence.
The resolution reaffirms the community’s commitment to be a warm, inviting and welcoming place, Shobe said.
It was also supported by the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce and the Lincoln Young Professionals Group.
Christensen said he has heard concerns about the resolution, that it was against free speech or that it was a meaningless gesture.
The resolution is not against free speech, he said. But free speech should not be met with anger and hate.
"We need to separate anger from public discourse," he said. "Anger produces hate and hate produces violence and we don’t want that in our city.
"We all have passions. But when we allow our passions to rule us, we achieve nothing," he said.
"What is needed is a civil, polite discourse on the subject. We need to agree to disagree without being disagreeable," something the City Council has done, he said.
Eskridge, who proposed the resolution, also promoted Lincoln as a community that listens and respects each other's ability to speak our minds.
“We cannot tolerate hate. We cannot tolerate hate-based crimes in our city because we are better than that,” he said.