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Germantown the Intolerant Melting Pot? Is This Really Us?

April 17, 2019

On Saturday Germantown resident Astu Nable, an African-American, who immigrated to the United States from the West African country of Togo was attacked and robbed as he walked on the street where he lives in Germantown. Unfortunately, Germantown residents getting mugged as they walk along the street is becoming more common than anyone would like, but what makes this incident different is the victim was an open supporter of President Donald J. Trump, and he was wearing an iconic red “Make America Great Again” hat.

   According to Montgomery County Police, the victim was targeted by his attackers because he was wearing the hat, not because he looked like a wealthy person or an easy mark to be rolled. He was harassed and beaten by two other Black Americans because of his open support of the President of the United States. According to news reports, Nable has been a long time Trump supporter.

   Nable told Kevin Lewis from WJLA that he immigrated to the United States in 2007 and went through the process to become a legal American citizen in 2013. In 2016 he voted for Trump. In 2019, he was beaten up for his political beliefs.

   Officers from the MCPD’s 5th District in Germantown have arrested two men; Jovan Crawford, 27 of the 700 block of Clopper Road in Germantown, and Scott Duncan Roberson, 25, of the 1600 block of V Street, NW, in Washington D.C.

   Nable is not the first in heavily Democratic Montgomery County to take a beating for supporting President Trump. Shortly after the election in 2016, a 15-year-old Richard Montgomery student was beaten for wearing a MAGA hat.

   Earlier this month, it was revealed once again that Germantown is among the most diverse communities in the United States. Of course, that isn’t news to anyone who has lived here for more than two months. It is part of the fabric of our community. Everyone is welcome in Germantown.

   Everyone, it seems, except those who support the President of the United States.

   The brazen attack is a punch in the face to all those in our community who have worked to make it the storied melting pot of which we are proud members. But, worse are some of the comments on the Germantown Pulse social media feeds.

  Some of those comments support this violent behavior. One commenter on the Pulse FaceBook page said, “I see someone wearing maga hat a punch to the Face too.” (That is a direct quote, not the usual Germantown Pulse poor copy editing.)

   Others blamed the attack on the victim because he had to audacity to exercise his First Amendment right to free speech. “Shouldn’t have worn that hat,” wrote a commenter. Another commenter on FaceBook said, “I mean what did you expect, wearing a MAGA hat in a cultural melting pot?”

   He expected to be able to live in the freedom he sought when he immigrated to this country in 2007. Freedoms that the entire world yearns for — that generations of military veterans have died defending. Freedom to think. Freedom to express those thoughts without violent retribution. Freedom to walk down a quiet street without the fear of violence because of the hat you wear or the beliefs you hold.

   The victim, in this case, was not protesting anything. He was not yelling “MAGA” to all that passed him on the street. He wasn’t handing out political literature attempting to convert believers to his cause. He was not screaming Trump Administration talking points at passers-by. He was out for a stroll after supper on a Saturday evening, and he was attacked for exercising his freedoms.

   Is this really what Germantown is? Is Germantown a place where a difference of opinion about politics is an incitement to violence? An African-American immigrant is not allowed to express a political opinion? An American is not allowed to hold a viewpoint, even an unpopular viewpoint? Would we blame the victim if he was a White man beaten by two other White men for wearing an iconic Obama Hope tee-shirt or an “I’m With Her” hat? Isn’t that sort of thing that we would expect in a fictional rural hey-seed farming community complete with cross-eyed banjo pickers with a fear of outsiders who think differently? Is this to be expected in a modern urbanized suburb of our nation’s capital, a town lauded for its diversity and multiculturalism such as Germantown? Is our Germantown melting pot, really enemy territory to differences of opinion?

   Everyone has an opinion on President Trump, and everyone has a RIGHT to an opinion about President Trump, but NO PERSON has the right to commit violence against anyone who holds an opinion, pro or con, about President Trump — or any other political figure. Violence such as this is political violence. It is meant to intimidate and stop the free spread of political ideas and notions. It is intended to scare and silence the victim and anyone else who might consider the ideology of the victim.

   Have we reached a point in Germantown, a community where 75 percent of residents have attended college, or have higher degrees, that if we can’t persuade our political opponents with words and ideas, we throw hands? Isn’t that a crime based on hatred? Hatred of ideas. Hatred of politics, or is violence not a signifier of hatred? The victim was attacked because of a basic difference from the attacker. How is that different from race, or religion, or gender, or sexual orientation?

   Germantown Pulse is calling for Montgomery County’s elected officials to condemn this political hate-crime. Will the County Council stand up for this resident the way they’ve stood up for victims of other hate-crimes in other parts of the nation and the world? Or will they ignore it because it was a Trump supporter, and won’t win them any votes or accolades from Montgomery County’s dominant political party?

   This attack was not a response to racism; it was a response to a political ideology. Trump’s Make American Great Again movement has supporters from all races and colors and creeds, as evidenced by Mr. Nable’s support. More than 92,000, or 19.4 percent of Montgomery County voters voted for President Trump and the UpCounty polling locations in Germantown and Damascus showed the highest percentage of Trump voters in the County. In Germantown, Trump earned 18 percent of the vote, and in Damascus Trump earned 38 percent of votes.

   Our wonderful diverse community must adopt a more accepting and tolerant way of dealing with supporters of this oft-times frustrating president. We are not that fictional intolerant banjo-picking community. We are better than that.

   We are better than that, aren’t we?

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