In light of the recent “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, many are speaking out. On Twitter, you can find celebrities and anonymous people alike tweeting to express criticisms of Trump’s statements about the rally, shock (or lack thereof) at the blatant racism, and sharing advice on how to help.
In response to Charlottesville, many are advocating the “love trumps hate” approach, believing that hate shouldn’t be fought with hate. In theory, it makes sense. In reality, it only protects bigots. The people who show up to a rally like the one in Charlottesville don’t want “love.” The Unite the Right rally was a gathering of people advocating white supremacy; they don’t want “love”. By choosing “love” over activism, people are condoning bigotry and hate. It makes sense though; it’s much easier to “love” and do nothing than to address the problems affecting minorities every day, especially for those who don’t experience racism. What Donald Trump and his supporters have shown is that love doesn’t trump hate. Activists that have been fighting an uphill battle for years have known this. Minorities have known this. It’s time for everyone else to realize this too. To truly fight against injustice, we have to acknowledge it; only then can there be actual progress. Freedom of speech restricts only the government; it doesn’t prevent us as citizens from fighting against hate speech. Progress has only ever been made in the past by people who fought against inequality at any opportunity, not by those who relied on love to end hatred.
Opinions aren’t just opinions. Those who claim not to support bigots but still fight for their right to express their beliefs in the name of free speech don’t realize that by protecting their hate speech, they are showing their acceptance of it; silence against injustice speaks volumes about someone’s character. The “love trumps hate” stance does nothing except allow silent support of oppression, despite what many want to believe. Martin Luther King Jr. is often quoted to justify using love to fight against hate; take a closer look, though, and you’ll realize that while he advocated acceptance, he was an even bigger supporter of activism: “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” “Love trumps hate” has been keeping white supremacists and Nazis alive and popular for far too long. “Love trumps hate” has allowed the oppression of minorities for far too long. “Love trumps hate” has been excusing intolerance and bigotry for far too long. It’s time that we stop using love to excuse hate.
Many people, as much as they want, have no opportunity to fight against injustice. This problem is especially prevalent in teenagers and young adults who don’t have the resources or time for activism. Regardless of your situation, there is always something that can be done. Whether it means donating money to non-profits, educating your loved ones, or spreading news of injustice that isn’t featured on the news, there is always something that can be done. No matter your situation, many of us can find a way to contact our congressman and demand progress. If there’s nothing being done, do it yourself.
“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest it” – Holocaust survivor and author, Elie Wiesel