On Feb. 27, the community of Homer missed an opportunity to reaffirm in one collective public voice that which it has always professed itself to be — inclusive, welcoming, live and let live.
Resolution 17-019, so roundly condemned by many who testified, was utterly misunderstood as an indictment of Homer for some glaring lack of compassion. It was nothing of the sort. Rather, it was a reaction to increasing incidences of intolerance across America as a whole.
I love this community. It is one of the friendlier places I have ever lived and a wonderful place to have raised a daughter. But it is not immune to sporadic expressions of bias and xenophobia, as was courageously noted by a few brave enough to testify before the council about their own experiences. Does that condemn the city? Of course not, because all of us are also capable of loving our neighbors.
But like it or not, we are a reflection of the nation as a whole. We are not special. Every community considers itself unquestionably tolerant, but none is completely so. Accepting this about ourselves can only make us stronger.
The resolution proposed by Homer City Council members Aderhold, Reynolds and Lewis sought to do no less than affirm inalienable human and constitutional rights. They are to be commended for bringing it forward. I may not agree with how each of the six council members voted, but I’m not ignorant of the pressures under which they acted. All of them have my deepest respect. I consider them my friends and always will.
Some who testified suggested there was no need to restate what is already written in federal, state and local law. I disagreed. In my opinion, constitutions may be the highest of law, but they are only ideas committed to paper. They are fragile if not defended.
The so-called inclusion resolution would have accomplished that, without requiring the city to violate any law. It would have shown the city as ready to defend the vulnerable. There is no higher purpose for a governing body created by the will of the people.
It also would have fallen far short of the assertions of sovereignty and sanctuary made by other villages, cities, counties and states, some of which have adopted language of straight-up non-cooperation with federal authorities over immigration policy, even at the risk of losing much-needed revenues. In my opinion, such moves not only took real guts, they were patriotic.
As for the original draft resolution, it is clear great displeasure attended its therefore clauses that put blame squarely on Donald Trump, which in my opinion, is exactly where it belongs. Had any other Republican been elected, there likely would have been no resolution.
The president’s stated aims and intended policies comprise a potential for tragedy. They must be resisted.
For those of us who agree, it is the duty of citizenship.
Hal Spence is a longtime Homer resident.