Stop the hate

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

On Saturday, our nation saw another nightmare come true. White nationalists met in Charlottesville, Va., for the “Unite the Right” march, which quickly led to violence between the protesters and counter-protesters. The violence escalated into the afternoon, when a car drove into a group of counter-protesters. One woman was killed, and at least 34 people were wounded at the march.

It’s hard to articulate how it feels to know we live in a country where such a large group of white supremacist neo-Nazis exists. Certainly, it doesn’t feel good. These people are trying so hard to hijack what it means to be an American. They shame diversity as if it hurts our country. They scream out racist and anti-Semitic chants, and then they literally run down the people who oppose their agenda. This weekend, they took the life of a woman who devoted her time on Earth to speaking up for those who are marginalized in our society. She can’t speak up anymore. She has been silenced.

And for what? So a bunch of racists could let everyone know just how racist they are? Does human life mean nothing to these people?

Some will say she, along with the other counter-protesters, shouldn’t have been there. If they had stayed home, perhaps there wouldn’t have been any violence at the rally. We can’t know that for sure, though. What we do know is that protesting is an American right. Counter-protesting is an American right. We’re all allowed to exercise our rights so long as it doesn’t escalate into violence, but this rally shows you can’t count on a group of racists to shy away from physical altercations.

In just the past year, there have been many marches in our country. These events include the Women’s March on Jan. 21, the annual March for Life on Jan. 27, the People’s Climate March on April 29 and the National Pride March on June 11. Despite their differences, all these marches have something in common. They included protesters and counter-protesters, and nobody died. That last part is important, so I’m going to say it again. Nobody died.

The reason the “Unite the Right” march ended in death and injury is because of the people who organized the event in the first place. Of course the reason for the rally is divisive, but most marches are. People get fired up about abortion and LGBTQ rights just as much as racism. Counter-protesters would have been there no matter what the march was for. If hateful racists knew how to protest peacefully, this could have ended differently.

The thing is, you can’t actively hate another group in a peaceful way. Hate is not peaceful. Hate is not quiet. Hate leads to action, and that action often ends in violence. This isn’t about your party affiliation or who you voted for in the last presidential election. It’s a deeper issue, one we’ve been trying to overcome longer than we’ve been alive.

It’s about the hate that permeates our country. It’s in every nook and cranny if you look closely enough. Sometimes it wears the mask of white pride. Other times, it doesn’t wear a mask at all. That’s when we should speak up.

Speak up for love, and show that love to others through your actions. Condemn white supremacy and neo-Nazism, even if it doesn’t affect you. After all, if we allow this hatred to continue, it will affect all of us eventually.

I think it’s time to take a stand. I hope you’re standing with me.

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Samantha Jones is associate editor for Carroll County Newspapers. Her email address is Citizen.Editor.Eureka@gmail.com.