Loving Our Enemies

There’s been a little bit of hometown hell in Charlottesville this past week. Apparently, when the city decided to remove a Confederate statue, a group of protesters showed up with torches and Confederate and Nazi flags. Alarmed (by the torches and Confederate and Nazi flags,) a group of anti-protesters showed up to argue that symbols of White supremacy were not the way to solve this country’s problems. At some point, violence broke out between the two groups, ending(?) with someone driving a car through the counter-protester crowd, killing 1 person and injuring 19 more.

These are the facts, as far as I’ve found them. I don’t live in Virginia, and I don’t know anyone involved, so I’m relying heavily on news sources. But what’s clear is that there was a violent clash between two groups, and now the news (and social media) is exploding about it.

I can’t tell you who’s right here. Because, let’s be clear: I don’t think anyone was really “right.” I don’t think Nazis are a good group to join. But even Nazis have freedom of speech in this country, and I don’t think it’s a good idea to violently oppose a peaceful protest, even when the ideals presented are potentially violent. Hate doesn’t solve hate. At any rate, I’m not here to tell you what happened in Virginia, because I wasn’t there. I’m here to tell you what’s happening to my friends online.

As far as I see it, there are two kinds of people on Facebook right now: those who are talking about Nazis and those who aren’t. There would be more groups, except that those who are talking about Nazis insist there are only two. Because those who are talking about Nazis insist that if you’re not talking about the problem right now, you’re adding to the problem.

By remaining silent, they argue, you’re tacitly accepting it. You’re refusing to act on something that’s obviously wrong in this country. And I agree we should be talking about it. But there are a lot of people outside of Virginia who simply don’t know what they can do about it besides feel awful. And that still doesn’t solve the problem.

We need to address the problem. But that doesn’t mean remaining silent is acceptance.

Remember the women’s march in January? Everyone was talking about it. And every other post I saw about it was condemning those who weren’t participating in some way—why would you be betraying half the population of the world by not talking about Feminism right now? Why would you not be excited about this? What could possibly be more important than women’s rights?

My brother’s funeral was that day. That day, I had something to think about that was more important to me than women’s rights.

If someone you know isn’t involved in your troubles, maybe they have troubles of their own. Maybe they hurt, too. Maybe you should ask them, instead of accusing them.

Please, people. Stop calling people “the enemy” when they disagree with you on something. That’s exactly how the Nazis came to see good, hardworking Germans as “the enemy.” Because of small differences.

We know you’re hurt. We’re hurt, too. But if both groups in Charlottesville had just ordered pizza and sat down and talked about their differences, maybe we wouldn’t be in this mess. Stop lashing out. Start reaching out. ♥

 

Edit: I’ve been called out for doing shoddy research on the event itself,  for which I apologize. I stated the facts as best I knew them at the time. The worst of the violence clearly came from the Nazi protestor who ran his car into the crowd.

The purpose of my article,  however, was not to provide a substitute for the news.  I’m calling in people to stop calling each other bigots and Klansmen because they’re Republicans, because they’re Conservative,  because they voted for Trump, because they’re White, or because they’re not sufficiently outraged. I don’t want Nazis in my country,  because they thrive on hatred.  But hating people won’t solve that problem.   There’s a divide between Americans, and we need to work on healing the rift. Casting blame on our neighbors won’t do that.

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