M.C. NOW - Sara Rubin

Good afternoon.

In June, a white couple in St. Louis pointed guns at Black Lives Matter protesters marching past their home. They are in real life Patricia and Mark McCloskey, but on the internet and to the world at large, they are Karen and Ken. They were one of the too-many real people who came to stand in for those who go too far to complain about inoffensive and minor transgressions by people of color, their defensiveness boiling over to harm someone else. 

There have always been Karens and Kens, but we now have technology that captures them in the moment—calling the police to report a Black man birdwatching in Central Park, calling the police about a Black family grilling at Lake Merritt in Oakland, pointing guns at marchers in St. Louis. 

Does it happen here in Monterey County too? Yes. There’s a man in Soledad who hung a “Trump 2020” flag from an animal crate in front of his Latino neighbors’ house. A white couple who shouted racist slurs and assaulted a Black man outside of Monterey Lanes, beating him until his jaw was fractured in multiple places. A white man driving in Carmel who used his vehicle to pin a Muslim man against a car, leaving the man and his family fearing for their lives.

“You think it’s California, it’s a melting pot, and everyone’s tolerant—then you realize, oh, it does happen here,” Monterey’s Acting Assistant Monterey Police Chief Mike Bruno told me, speaking about a recent hate crime arrest in Monterey

At a recent editorial meeting as people pitched story ideas, a theme began to emerge. While there is hate in our community, there are also efforts to confront it and create a more tolerant community. Those stories coalesced into this week’s cover story, which on the cover features a take on the Karen meme—created by Art Director Karen (yes, Karen) Loutzenheiser. 

There’s the Methodist pastor who’d recently arrived in Marina, and who immediately faced homophobic attacks on social media—but who has a vision to heal injustices. There’s an ongoing reckoning in Pacific Grove with its racist history (reforming Feast of Lanterns has proved particularly thorny) and a new generation of activists who are organizing to make their city more inclusive. There’s an innovative curriculum in Alisal schools (for kids, parents and teachers) to learn how to be good online citizens, and avoid slippage into hateful corners of the internet.

We know those hateful corners exist partly thanks to the research by experts in the Center on Terrorism, Extremism, and Counterterrorism at the Middlebury Institute. The first step of confronting hate is identifying it, and that’s what this group is doing; they walked Weekly staff writer Asaf Shalev through their process of searching for extremism and hate, looking specifically at Monterey County. 

One thing they could not have caught was a piece of mail I found particularly shocking. Peter Hiller recently wrote a column for the Weekly about Carmel’s Junipero Serra statue, which is currently out of public display for safekeeping. 

Someone tore out the page with his story from the paper and made a big black X through it. Then they highlighted his name in yellow, and drew a Jewish star, then highlighted that in yellow—a resemblance to armbands Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Europe. It was unsigned, and there was no return address.

Sometimes the haters hide in anonymity. Sometimes, we can locate them and hold them to account—and, hopefully, engage in a dialogue to move forward. 

-Sara Rubin, editor, sara@mcweekly.com

Sara Rubin loves long public meetings, red pens and reading (on newsprint). She has been editor of the Monterey County Weekly since 2016, and has been on staff since 2010.

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