On Sept. 21, 1923, after a parade through the downtown that had sidewalks packed with cheering spectators, Klan held a “naturalization ceremony, at Fairgrounds. Some 15,000 members, were joined by some 7,000 initiates from around the state as 10,000 spectators watched from the grandstand. A 100-foot high cross was set ablaze, there was a fireworks display and overhead a Klan plane circled with a red cross in electric lights on its side. In this time, the target of the Klan – even more so than the immigrants who had come to town to work at NCR and Delco – was the University of Dayton and its “Catholics.” The Klan burned numerous crosses on UD property and harassed students. COPIED FROM A PHOTO (UD history professor Dr. William Vance Trollinger Jr.) OBTAINED FROM THE DAYTON METRO LIBRARY

COMMENTARY: Dump the rubbish that keeps people separated and oppressed

Perhaps you’ve read these words from Elie Wiesel, the late Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate:

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference. Because of indifference, one dies before one actually dies. To be in the window and watch people being sent to concentration camps or being attacked in the street and do nothing, that’s being dead.”

RELATED: Dayton, Klan group reach agreement over guns, masks

As the city prepares for the KKK rally planned for Saturday, May 25, ironically near the Abraham Lincoln statue at Courthouse Square, I’ve been thinking about his words.

A lot.

Indifference equals death before dying.

Businesses and institutions have denounced KKK and made it clear their message of hate is not welcome in the Gem City.

If all goes as planned, the KKK and its supporters will protest and be out of the city’s hair.

Several groups will hold counter events that day or leading up to it, and city officials urge Daytonians to stay clear of our public square.

RELATED: Dayton’s anti-hate campaign unveiled before Klan rally

The website UnitedAgainstHateDayton.com (United Against Hate Dayton) has been set up as a clearinghouse for events like An Afternoon of Love, Unity, Peace and Inclusion planned for McIntosh Park from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. that day.

There is even a “Love Overcomes Hate Cleansing of the Square” planned for 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 26.

The square will be cleaned, but the disease the Klan represents will not be easily removed.

We’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to the ugliness that manifests itself through racism, sexism and religious intolerance daily here and around the nation.

Hopefully, the love being expressed in Dayton by those in opposition to the KKK’s evil intent does not leave with their Constitutional Right to assemble fulfilled.

Let this not be a one and done type of situation.

RELATED: People debate how best to counter Klan rally in Dayton

Let’s truly address the rubbish that keeps people separated and oppressed.

The momentum for real change is in the air.

The opposite of love is not hate, so the opposite of hate cannot be love.

As Elie Wiesel told us, doing nothing and being apathetic in the face of injustice is a fate worse than death.

Let’s prove that Dayton is a great place to live.

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