We would like to announce the formation of the Montclair Chapter of the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism. FAIR is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing civil rights and liberties, and promoting a common culture based on fairness, understanding and our humanity.  FAIR has almost 100 chapters and more than 30,000 members nationwide.

FAIR’s board of advisers – which includes Montclair native Coleman Hughes – is a diverse group of prominent intellectuals, journalists, artists, activists and public figures who embrace a pluralistic ethos and a “pro-human” approach to controversial issues.  

FAIR’s Montclair chapter will aim to promote open and civil discourse across all areas of life in Montclair, from our media to our civil institutions. We believe the way to solve even our most entrenched problems is to look at them from multiple points of view, to challenge one another’s ideas, to listen with open minds, and to address social and political issues in a way that seeks common ground and mutual civility in dialogue with others.  

FAIR Montclair will focus initially on education, where we will work to ensure that our schools encourage free inquiry, open debate, political neutrality and tolerance of diverse viewpoints.  We are concerned that our district has begun to prioritize the inculcation of social and moral values over academic learning and objective truth, and that some curricula present political or social ideologies as fact rather than opinion. We believe an education that focuses on academic outcomes and employs proven teaching methodologies will best position students for lifelong success and fulfillment, and is the minimum our children deserve.

FAIR’s membership in Montclair comprises people from a wide spectrum of political and social viewpoints – progressives who feel an intolerant ethos has developed among their political kin, classical liberals seeking to protect individual and political liberties, conservatives who feel maligned or misunderstood by some quarters of our town, and those whose views defy easy categorization. 

What unites the Montclair membership is dedication to the liberal values of pluralism, open-mindedness, and freedom of thought and speech, and a concern that some have eschewed these important values in addressing difficult social and political issues.

We held our first meeting on Martin Luther King Day this year – an appropriate day because FAIR embraces Dr. King’s commitment to treating all people with dignity, respect and fairness.  We are proud to say that our meeting involved a robust exchange of ideas on a wide range of issues.  We invite Montclair to learn more about FAIR at fairforall.org/montclair-nj, where you can also inquire about joining our chapter or attending our next meeting on Sunday, March 26. 

Lesley Scammell

Brad Harsch

Don Rifkin

Ken Schapiro

Brendan Nedzi