Sen. McEachin's Letter to the Virginia Holocaust Museum

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The following letter is from State Senator Donald McEachin (D-9th) to the President of the Virginia Holocaust Museum, Jay M. Ipson. The letter is in response to a "protest" scheduled for Tuesday at the museum in Richmond by Fred Phelps and his Westboro "Baptist" "Church." Thank you to Donald McEachin for writing this letter and for standing up to this "gang of thugs."
Dear Mr. Ipson,

I understand that the Virginia Holocaust Museum is to be the site of a protest by Fred Phelps and his gang of thugs. Although I know he calls himself a minister and his followers, parishioners, none of them deserve the dignity of these terms. I wanted to let you know that my heart and my prayers will be with all of you at the Holocaust Museum on Tuesday.

I understand that you are keeping the museum open and that a counter protest is planned. I want to commend you for your actions. We must never ignore or run from hate. We must not allow these kinds of people to bully us, to remove our dignity or to live in fear. As you know better than I, hate that is ignored or surrendered to is hate that grows and thrives and, eventually, wins.

The Virginia Holocaust Museum is a testament to victory over hate, survival over decimation, dignity over surrender. In some ways, your museum is the “perfect” place for these thugs to gather because they stand in the face of survival and they are forced to confront right over evil and humanity over cruelty.
However, I have no faith in their ability to observe or learn these lessons and, with that in mind, I regret even more that your staff and your visitors will be subject to their hatred and cruelty and inciteful words. That is why I wish I could be with you on Tuesday, to stand shoulder to shoulder with you, your staff and your visitors; so that they would know that all decent people stand together in the face of this detestable group.

Your Museum paves the way for Virginians to see and learn that all people deserve freedom and equal opportunity, that all of us deserve to live our lives in dignity and peace, with respect and understanding from our neighbors. As we go forward in this century, the good works you and your folks accomplish will help teach those lessons and make the difference for generations to come. When we look on back on these times, we will see that you all have not only been a bulwark against evil, but a beacon for the future, an inspiration as we seek freedom and opportunity for all.

Again, please know that I will be thinking of you on Tuesday, that it will make me try even harder to make the best and fairest decisions as I work at the General Assembly. But, truly, my spirit with be with all of you, standing shoulder to shoulder, looking into the face of evil and, once again, surviving and conquering.

May God bless you and keep you.


A. Donald McEachin