If there’s a gift we’ve been given from the recent abhorrent vandalism at the Shaary Tefilla Temple, it’s the less-than-subtle reminder that prejudice and hatred isn’t gone. Not from the world, not from our country and not from our communities.
As Governor Holcomb has shown, it’s provided some impetus for us to address the fact that Indiana remains one of only five states in the country without a hate crimes bill. While we’d argue it’s pretty disappointing we need any more reasons to get off that short list, it’s focused our attention, and provided us with an opportunity to get something done. We support the governor’s view.
There are those who will counter that no one can legislate fairness, nor eliminate bigotry with a law. True. Others will argue that we need a lot fewer laws, not more. Arguably, also true.
But even if the recent incident doesn’t upset your own personal principles or strike you as in conflict with the sense of fairness our country has strived for centuries to portray, inclusion is a business issue. Those businesses we hope to attract to Indiana, as well as those we hope to retain, want to hire the best and brightest employees they can find. Even the perception that Indiana chooses to dismiss the significance of an inclusive culture can be detrimental to our economic development efforts.
We already suffer from a lack of strong population growth. We’re growing at almost half the average of other states, ranking 31 out of 50 in growth. If we could grow out population at the national average of 5.3 percent, we could have 167,000 more people and approximately 81,000 more employees.
Indiana also ranks 25th in domestic migration – the number of people who move from one state to another. We’re losing 2,724 people a year to other states. Tennessee is gaining over 40,000.
Those of us who choose Indiana and advocate for its myriad amenities, know that the actions of a few who choose to act on their hatred don’t represent us. That’s not who we are. So there’s no reason our culture should be labeled as something it’s not, simply because we want to avoid legislation that makes it clear we don’t choose nor support inclusion and diversity.
Simply put, Indiana won’t make anybody’s short list if we dismiss this need nor presume it doesn’t matter. It does.
Indiana should pass hate crimes legislation. We need to stop tolerating intolerance.
Mo Merhoff is the president of OneZone, the combined chamber of commerce for Carmel and fishers.