Wednesday, November 29, 2000

Klan circus

Here's how to defeat hate game

        The Klan that stole Christmas is coming to town. Again.

        On Saturday, the robed disciples of hate plan to set up their divisive cross on Fountain Square.

        The Klan hopes to spoil the Tristate's holiday season by attracting protesters and grabbing headlines.

        It's all perfectly legal. And disgusting.

        But think twice before you start pointing fingers.

        We have no one to blame for this but ourselves.

        This annual outrage in the heart of town could have been avoided. But that would have required good, law-abiding citizens to get off their duffs.

        The good people of Greater Cincinnati could have kept the Klan off the square by planning and acting instead of waiting and reacting.

        All it would have taken would have been for nine groups to get in line ahead of the Klan and fill out applications for 10-day permits to set up displays on the square in December.

        The applications are granted on a first-come, first-served basis. Each one takes 10 minutes to fill out. Tops.

        That's 90 minutes to complete nine applications and shut out the Klan - which is what happened during the 1999 holiday season. Those 90 minutes sure would have saved everyone lots of time and money.

        On Monday, John Shirey suggested another way to foil the Klan. The city manager called for a news blackout of the hatemongers. Keep those bums out of the news from the time they put up their cross until it comes down Dec. 10.

        “The Klan knows Cincinnati is the place to get national attention during the holidays,” the city manager told me Tuesday. “We need to ignore them for a few years.”

        I see his point. But I must disagree.

        Vermin - cockroaches, stuff in sewers and the Klan - flourish in the dark. Expose them to the harsh light of truth and they either scatter or, in time, wither and die.

        The Klan is evil. In the presence of evil, good people must be ever-vigilant. The Devil never sleeps.

Wake-up call
        The Klan's upcoming appearance on the square awakened several organizations.

        The Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center intends to lead several religious and civil rights groups in a silent prayer vigil. A coalition of young Republicans and Democrats hopes to have a booth on the square to promote freedom of speech and religion.

        Where were these well-meaning people in December 1999?

        That's when the city started accepting applications for displays on the square for the 2000 holiday season.

        The Klan sent in its application for a December 2000 permit in January. Still smarting from being shut out the previous holiday season, it wanted to be early. And it was. This year, the Klan was first in line.

Apply early
        Applications are now being accepted to put displays on the square for the 2001 holiday season.

        To apply, bring a rough sketch of your display to the Department of Public Services, in the Centennial Plaza Two building behind City Hall. The department's offices — on the second floor, Suite 215 — open at 8 a.m.

        Don't be late.

        Act first. Protest later. Otherwise, Cincinnatians will continue to have the Klan in our home for the holidays.

       Columnist Cliff Radel can be reached at 768-8379; fax 768-8340.


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