While our hearts go out to those killed and injured amidst violent conflicts between white supremacist and Neo-Nazi demonstrators and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, VA one thing is clear: bigotry and racial hatred were the primary causes of the casualties. That fact must be firmly and clearly stated, and roundly condemned by our leaders.
Of course, there is plenty of blame to go around. Protesters and counter-protesters alike were responsible for outbreaks of fighting and violence that presaged the tragedy that we sadly witnessed, in which a man drove a car into a crowd of people, killing one woman and wounding several others. What is known thus far about the perpetrator, judging by published excerpts from his social media postings and photographs of him at the Charlottesville march, is that he appears to have strong political leanings. And what’s more, the man has a name: his name is James Alex Fields.
The sentiments that presumably drove Fields to commit such a horrific crime also have names: bigotry, racial animosity, white supremacy, and possible neo-Nazism. We must be clear about naming the evils in our midst, calling them out and banishing, lest they, through want of identification, imbed themselves unconsciously into our own souls. When the spirit of evil – one that we all as humans struggle with – becomes so strong that it finally spills out of our souls and into the streets, things have reached a critically dangerous point of development. Our response must be to immediately name it and shame it; we should not let it just slither away under the obscuring shade of moral equivalence.
While the President and other leaders of the Republican party were quick to condemn the violence on ‘many sides,’ that was not enough. While there is certainly more room for tolerance and humanity on both sides of the argument over the removal of Confederate symbols, that is a subject for another discussion. As it pertains to the events of Charlottesville, clearly it was the sentiment of racial hatred and bigotry which struck the fatal blow. Our leaders, including especially the President of the United States, absolutely must call out this evil by its name, clearly and loudly. There should be no room for doubt that we roundly abhor these sentiments in our midst, and unambiguously repudiate the violent and evil acts that arise from them.