Be the Change #32 – On Charlottesville

The violence and hatred exhibited in Charlottesville last weekend were shocking and heartbreaking to most Americans.  Anyone who hasn’t been in a cave or a coma knew that our country was dividing along ever more partisan and angry lines, but the brawls and the tragic death of Heather Heyer still left us wondering what’s happened to us and how much worse it can get.

Many of us were further dismayed by President Trump’s insistence that “many sides” were to blame.  I wasn’t there, so I don’t have an opinion on who “started it,” who was armed and who wasn’t, or whose “fault” it was.

But I have an opinion on who was right and who was wrong.

The people carrying the Nazi and Confederate flags, and shouting neo-Nazi slogans were wrong.  Flat-out, end-of-story wrong.  Because their whole reason for being in Charlottesville in the first place was wrong.

You can’t agree with slaveholding, racial superiority, or any form of racial or ethnic discrimination and claim to support American values.  The monuments that the Unite the Right groups were defending honor and glorify men who took up arms for the purpose of continuing to hold other human beings as property.  That was wrong.  Granted, they were men of their time, but we know better now and we shouldn’t honor their cause.

Don’t ask me if monuments to Washington or Jefferson are coming down next because, after all, those men were also slaveholders.  Washington held the Continental Army together and therefore gave us our country.  He willingly left office after two terms when he could have been king, and therefore gave us the notion of peaceful succession.  Jefferson gave us the very idea of our country in the Declaration of Independence, and our cross-continental reach with the Louisiana purchase.  We honor Washington and Jefferson for those contributions, in spite of their status as slaveholders.

A monument to confederate rebels is different.  It explicitly honors those men for something they did that was reprehensible:  rebelling against our country for the purpose of continuing to hold other human beings as property.  The monuments show them in their military uniforms, often with weapons or on horses ready to go into battle.  The monuments honor them because of their fight to keep other human beings in bondage.  That’s the difference between a Confederate monument and the Jefferson Memorial.  That’s why the Confederate monuments should come down.

In the months to come, there are likely to be more protests, and more counter-protests.  There may be more violence, probably on both sides.  But to say both sides are equally wrong, just because both sides throw punches, is to miss the main point.  One side is fighting evil ideologies of the dark past.  The other is fighting on the side of evil.

NOTE:  This post is an expansion on a Comment that I posted on my friend Debbie’s Facebook page.  Debbie is to the right of me politically, and the comments on her post ran the political gamut.  I was heartened by the fact that Debbie’s original post, and all the comments, were well-thought-out and respectful.  There was disagreement, but it was civil.  There was no throwing around of terms like “racist” or “libtard.”  That’s the kind of dialog that we desperately need.

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