Today, in Charlottesville, Virginia demonstrations and counter demonstrations turned into eruptions of violence between various white nationalist elements, anti-fascists, and Americans opposed to racism. It was billed as a “Unite the Right” rally which was allegedly brought together to protest the forthcoming removal of a Confederate hero Robert E. Lee statue. In actuality, it was a gathering of those wishing to promote fear, spread hate, and maybe an excuse to engage in civil discourse against their fellow men/women.
As this story continues to unfold, at least three people have died so far today. Two police officers died in a helicopter crash as they were assisting to squelch the protest violence. The names of these heroic men who died are Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates.
Later, a newly identified (whose name is not worthy of any mention) terrorist decided to drive a car into a group of counter protesters. The growing tally of those who were injured is well into the double-digits and growing. Also, the aforementioned terrorist killed a 32-year old lady whose name is not being released until the next-of-kin are notified.
Even the President took a break from his “not a vacation” vacation to briefly address the subject. Unfortunately, he read his statement with the enthusiasm of a kid being forced to say, “Uncle” to a bigger, stronger tormentor–as he did not “feel” it. No, the President seemed more interested in bragging about the economy and the latest employment numbers. That is okay because others (such as myself) did feel it. My honest reaction to the President’s take on this issue, in a way that he might understand (tweet), was:
— glee_iconoclast (@Glee_Iconoclast) August 12, 2017
Make no mistake, the President of the United States should always (at least appear to) embody the “right stuff.” But let’s face it, Trump is not such a President. However, along with the ugliness associated with the rise of Trump, there has also been an equal display of beauty, love, and courage of the human spirit.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Here is a personal truth – we do not need the President to provide us our moral compass. It would be great if he did reinforce America’s most exceptional characteristics, but it is not necessary. What is needed, is that ‘We the People’ live up to our idealism, to stand up for the oppressed, to denounce hate, to promote equality and safety for all.
We are never all going to like each other, but that is no excuse to hurt, harm, or to kill one another. Besides, the art of violence takes far less courage than an open heart and open mind to those who may be different or strangers.
Now, one should never complain about a problem without offering a solution. Here is my proposal:
Hashtags such as #ThisIsNotUs, may be well intentioned but are a form of denial–#ThisIsUsAndAlwaysHasBeenUs would be more practical and more honest. Why? Because the foundation of America as a “melting-pot” has provided us ample opportunity to enslave, kill, harm, ridicule, falsely accuse, denigrate, and to scapegoat many of our own shortcomings onto someone different than us.
Since its inception, America has always had and ALWAYS WILL have racist, sexist, or homophobic haters of almost anything or anyone imaginable. It remains important that our society does not downplay the truth.
How we should address white nationalist protests, Ann Coulter speeches, or anyone else that we may find offensive?
DON’T SHOW UP!
The solution is that simple. The way to counter hate speech is not to shut it down. No, the key is to let them talk, march, or to express themselves freely. After all, the best plan to counter a horrendous view is to let that view be heard. In fact, the opposition protesters should just stop showing up.
Instead of counter protests or shutting their speeches down, spend that time doing something valuable for your community, homeless vets, underprivileged youth, Habitat for Humanity, or any other worthy cause that benefits mankind.
Protesting hate-mongers only gives them what they want, and that is a recruiting narrative. By not showing up, their narrative changes to showing “their true colors” and their numbers will only dwindle.
We the People must rise above the worst of our society and remember that #LoveTrumpsHate.