During the 2016 election, many of President Trump’s platforms were based on hate. He attempted to ban people from parts of the middle east in January, called all Mexicans “drug dealers, criminals, [and] rapists” and waited to disavow a Klan member’s support. Starting Saturday the 12th, there was an alt-right rally in Charlottesville, VA. President Trump has not issued a coherent statement and forgot to mention the radical alt right terrorists in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The real issue at hand is how these actions have forced people to group together. He has taken out the middle ground. When people argue they have to agree with a certain side, there is no place for compromise. People are no longer able to even imagine a perspective that isn’t their own, this is making extremist groups even more dangerous.
On Saturday morning hoards of alt-right protesters gathered in Charlottesville, VA for the “Unite the Right” rally after a torch bearing Friday night. Many people showed up with Nazi symbols on their clothes, KKK hoods, and men clothed in camo and carrying semi-automatic weapons. A woman named Heather Heyer was killed when a member of the rally rammed a car into a group of peaceful counter-protesters.
During World War II hundreds of thousands died fighting the Nazis, yet today they are being protected by police and the first amendment.
This brings up a deeply rooted issue with the normalization of extremism that has come about in the last election cycle.
As a country, we have been split up into groups and this kind of action is not okay on either side.
Many of the people at the rally have asked to have their side seen there is no excuse for having a swastika on your clothing or going to a place simply to show hate. Under the first amendment “fighting words” are not protected. These are discriminatory words aimed at other citizens or groups of people including racist and sexist phrases that aim to insight violence.
There are ways you can help this is not a hopeless situation for the United States. Talking to your community about these tough issues can help spread awareness and might comfort others who are impacted by the amount of hate seen in demonstrations like this. You can protest peacefully no matter how hard it may be to not punch a Nazi, violence gives them a reason to protest.
Violence is not the answer and having conversations about sharing perspectives may be the first step to changing the culture of extremism. Although it may be hard to take a step back, history will reveal the villains and remember those who met hate with peace.