About 150 high school student leaders are scheduled to take part in an Anti-Racism Symposium Jan. 13 at the Salt Lake County Complex in a commendable effort to expose the workings of extremist, hate-peddling groups that nibble at the edges of society.
The meeting is timely because Utah has not been spared the efforts of such organizations that preach hatred and even violence against other races and religions, principally blacks and Jews. In late 1987, the Aryan Nations, a hate-group that sprang up earlier in northern Idaho, sought to expand into Utah with offices and a radio program.The attempt met with heavy public opposition and the radio program was soon canceled. But such highly publicized efforts by hate groups are unusual. More often, they work quietly and some take special aim at indoctrinating youth.
Out of the Aryan Nations experience came the desire of community leaders to do something to combat such racism, and thus the Citizens Against Racism - a loose collection of individuals and backed by the Utah Young Democrats and Young Republicans - was formed.
The group is sponsoring the symposium at the county complex. The agenda includes discussions by law enforcement personnel, religious leaders, and civil rights experts.
Some groups preach hatred in the name of religion. Church leaders will emphasize that legitimate religion teaches love, not hatred, and that extremists are misusing the name of religion.
The idea of the symposium is to acquaint young people with what extremist hate groups advocate. Such organizations function best in the shadows, using whispers, rumors, and lies, and appealing to the worst in people. Their focus is anti-whatever, instead of being for something.
In the full light of public view and in the free marketplace of ideas, these hate groups are seen for what they are. When that happens, they shrivel and lose much effectiveness.