THOSE STILL SMARTING from the impact of Saturday's downtown violence are legion -- people who had nothing to do with it. They are, as we mentioned yesterday, the majority of this city's people, those whom the Klan would like to hurt the most. Some of them responded in their own peaceful ways to the events of Saturday and some may have stayed away entirely, with intentions and objections just as valid as all others who despise everything the Klan stands for. But lest there be doubt anywhere here or around the country, the ugliness that shook things up was in no way the voice of Greater Washington.
In parts of the city where rocks and bottles did not fly and tear gas never permeated, there were people gathered to show their disgust with the Klan and to do so with gestures of kindness to others. Through the good works of a group organized as the Coalition for Community Unity, there were free dinners given out at 30 area churches -- actions speaking louder than words, even if they were not heard everywhere through the din.
There were worship services in the prisons; prayer services in the churches; discussions and films about the Klan's history of hate-mongering; and in areas away from where the little band of Klansmen were originally scheduled to make their appearance, small rallies, where people sang and maybe even thought a little about why they had come together. They were people of all colors, from downtown, from the suburbs, some articulate, some angry but not violent.
Not all people have to show up or show off in response to every bid for attention by the cowardly, bullyish and dim-witted who find warped comfort in Klan membership or who may silently support such bigotry. No, Washington's people are better than that--and know it. All is not love and brotherhood here, and neither is it mindless chaos at the drop of a white sheet. It hurts when others jump to that conclusion because of the actions of the hell- raisers. If the longer-term reaction turns up in the form of greater efforts to promote tolerance, at least something will have been achieved.