Anger and disgust — those are two of many words that come to mind when I think of what happened in Charlottesville this weekend and of the hatred and division that has risen to the surface during the past several months.
The violence in Virginia was an act of domestic terrorism, plain and simple. These white supremacists and Nazis (or as they call themselves, the alt-right) are anything but patriots – they are un-American. Their goal is simple — to rip apart the fabric of what makes our nation great: its diversity, its compassion and its inclusion of all races, genders, religions and creeds.
On Saturday, after the president made his statement in response to the protests, I was reminded of something the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said: “the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Two full days later, Trump finally condemned members of the KKK and other white supremacy groups, but as has been his modus operandi, his actions and words were too little too late.
Let me be clear, I know these groups and this hatred existed before the Trump presidency, but it is his harmful rhetoric that has emboldened the Richard Spencers and David Dukes of our nation. Dukes said it himself that, “We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump.”
We — you, me, our neighbors, family members and friends — can stand together to help stamp out this hateful rhetoric. We can donate to groups that fight this hate. We can talk to our friends and family. We must acknowledge and be honest about the divisions of racism. We can call our government officials and ask them to denounce the extreme activities of white supremacists.
We must not let anyone say this comes from “many sides,” because those opposing Nazism aren’t responsible.
Finally, we must remember the innocent lives that have been lost defending the diversity of our nation.
This is a watershed moment in our nation’s history, and our actions now have the power to change its course for the better. The vast majority of Americans denounce bigotry and white supremacy and we must all work every day to resist such hatred.
We have to remember that it is our obligation as Americans to change this, that we can change this, and that we must act.