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Arsonist rumor spreads hate, fear

In Friday’s TGIForum, one of your readers posted a letter to expose the “radical left-wing groups” he claimed have been setting fires in California and Oregon. Can we please get beyond name-calling? What has happened to our compassion and Aloha spirit? People have lost their homes and their lives.

Are we able to return to some semblance of “news normalcy” we had before calling the entertaining opinions of both extremes “news”?

Whenever I hear something dramatic that bashes a group of people or incites fear, I do my best to check it out. On September 13, NPR reported, “Oregon Officials Warn False Antifa Rumors Waste Precious Resources For Fires.” From that report I learned:

Ashland (Oregon) Police Chief O’Meara said, “There’s no reason to believe that this is politically motivated. And anybody that is speculating in that direction is being reckless and not working toward solving this problem or any other problem. It’s irresponsible for anybody to engage in that kind of speculation. There’s absolutely no basis for it.”

I understand that there are people who don’t trust NPR as an unbiased news source. Others may think that the rumors are started by Russian operatives. What to believe?

Some of us used to believe the FBI. The Agent who runs the Portland field office, said, “FBI Portland and local law enforcement agencies have been receiving reports that extremists are responsible for setting wildfires in Oregon. With our state and local partners, the FBI has investigated several such reports and found them to be untrue. Conspiracy theories and misinformation take valuable resources away local fire and police agencies working around the clock to bring these fires under control.”

I am not writing this to prove whether these rumors are right or wrong. I am writing to urge each of us to share information as much as possible from first-hand experience rather than speculation, or at least to cite a credible source of that information.

Perhaps most important, I am offering a prayer that we shift our focus from blaming to uplifting each other. How? By spreading love and aloha, not hatred and fear.

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Marian Head is a resident of Kapa‘a.
Source: The Garden Island

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