Escaping persecution, terror and hate, my grandparents left their respective homelands and families, crossing oceans with nearly nothing, hoping to find and fulfill the promise of a welcoming America. Their courageous journey led to the freedoms we descendants enjoy today along with the incalculable contributions they, and those who came after them, made to our country’s health and growth.

Unless they’re Native Americans, the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi racists spewing hate in Virginia were also likely bred from those who fled the injustices of other continents generations ago. This is true of son-of-immigrants Donald Trump and those who surround him, like Stephen Miller, Sebastian Gorka and Breitbart-born Steve Bannon.

There are 917 hate groups active in our country. Hate crime perpetrators are invoking Trump’s name as they hurt others. Former KKK Imperial Wizard David Duke confirmed in Virginia: “We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. … That’s why we voted for Donald Trump.”

It is too painful to believe that Republicans, Trump supporters or not, would condone white supremacy in any form. What decent American would not be horrified by the disgusting response from a U.S. president who failed to immediately condemn bigotry and racism in every form and forum?

Hate-filled rallies do not have to come to Portsmouth or Portland for us to speak out. Most who read this are descended from those who sacrificed to build this country. Please stand up against those who claim they want to “take back our country”! Call and visit your lawmakers. Write letters. March. Use your social media to encourage and support others. We have always been the diversity that makes America so strong and great. Never take for granted or forget how you got here.

Carol Selsberg

Eliot