Hate speech is being normalized in this country. We simply cannot let it happen.

Since 2016, hate crimes are rising, and it is a sad trajectory. Most Americans are not violent hatemongers. Yet normalization creeps into our society when our national leaders fail to condemn intolerant behavior.

We normalize hatred with our silence. Too often, we are witnesses to behavior that is unacceptable. If we are not the target of intolerance, it is easy to look the other way.

We normalize hatred when we excuse the troubling rhetoric of leaders who scapegoat and troll others. Complacency sows the seeds of normalization, because complacency is viewed as tacit acceptance by perpetrators of hate. Stopping the spread of extremism begins by standing up to intolerance and aligning ourselves with its common targets.

I urge everyone reading this letter to commit to stopping hate today. It starts with acts of kindness and empathy. Step into someone else’s shoes for a small part of your day. Become an ally to marginalized people. Reach beyond your family and church to help someone in need. Do something kind for a stranger. Support organizations that expose the spread of hatred. Teach your children to respect others. Share this message with others.

The best defense for ignorance is propagating love in the world. Domestic terrorism and hate crimes are on the rise. Make kindness and tolerance the new rising pattern in this country. Be the change.

Diane Walker, Salt Lake City