No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love. For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.
— NELSON MANDELA
I live in Charlottesville. I’ve called it home for more than a decade. As I was picking up soccer cleats and shin pads for my four year old son who will start soccer soon, a 32 year old woman was killed and 19 others injured when a car sped into a crowd of counter protesters on Water St. and 4th. In total, three died including two state police whose helicopter crashed while monitoring the event.
There’s a video of the car attack, but I’m not going to link to it because what you are witnessing is a playback of death. As of 9:30 PM when I write this, five are in critical condition and four seriously injured. The others are expected to recover from their injuries. But somewhere tonight in this small college town, home to the father of democracy and principle author of the Declaration of Independence, someone’s daughter is dead.
In Paris, there’s a name for someone who intentionally drives a car into a crowd of people:
Terrorism is defined as the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims. In the case of the alt-right movement (alt right is white supremacy rebranded), carrying lit torches on the campus of the University of Virginia and shouting anti-black, anti-jewish slogans would fall into the category of intimidation. Running over someone with your car would fall under the category of the unlawful use of violence.
For some to point blame at the city council or the University of Virginia or the counter protesters is misdirected; and in the cases where a lack of sympathy is called for those injured, your lack of remorse for your fellow man is shameful and disgusting.
We live here. Except for the attention seeking blogger who created the event, those waving flags of hate and shouting nazi era epithets do not. There was a human being behind the wheel who drove a thousand pound machine of metal over flesh and blood and in his body a fire of hate was lit and burned — in the driver’s seat wasn’t the city council, nor the University of Virginia, nor the counter protesters.
Do you, too, blame the world trade centers for sitting too tall in the sky on September 11, 2001, or the state of Connecticut for Sandy Hook because they allow their citizens their second amendment rights under the Constitution? Do you blame the rape victim for going on the date in the first place?
Doubtful. My guess is you blame the terrorists, the shooter, and the rapist.
Read: What is the Alt Right?
While I try to steer clear of current events and politics on my blog, I’m going to give myself a pass tonight. Life is a topic I routinely discuss, and at least three, so far, have lost theirs. More could see shadows ascend before morning.
This is where I live. Where bodies went flying into the air and lay on the ground, I’ve walked those very streets with my kids to get ice cream on the downtown mall, where candles are now being lit in the night rain.
As a student at the University of Virginia, my first roommate was a gay guy. It made me a little uncomfortable at first, then it made me a better person with a new perspective. After that summer, I moved into a new place for the fall semester and my roommates were Chinese, Russian, Thai, a white dude from Southwest Virginia, and a white dude from Northern Virginia who was showing signs of early male pattern baldness despite the fact he was growing his hair long.
My closest friends while at the University of Virginia were a half African/half German girl, a Kenyan, an Egyptian, a Canadian, a Turk, a Pakistani, a Croatian, a half Irish dude, two black girls and dude, and a couple of white girls and guys from America for good measure. Granted, I probably spent more time shooting the breeze with the cafeteria staff than anyone.
I was fortunate to study under the great Julian Bond, my professor in the History of the Civil Rights Movement — a man who once stood at the ballot box alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., and who also started the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). You may remember the pronunciation of “Snick” in middle or high school. That was my professor’s creation.
Charlottesville couldn’t be more different than where I grew up. It’s a culturally diverse, progressive town where you are exposed to many cultures from around the world on an every day basis, so long as you walk out your front door. Back home, it’s white, black, and once in eighth grade I met a Hispanic kid who sat in front of me for about three months before moving.
The alt right can pretend all it wants that their little descent into Charlottesville, a town that voted 80% for Clinton in the last election, is about a park being renamed or a statue displaced; but that’s not what this is about at all. It’s about the cultural and political identity that is Charlottesville, and the shift in the cultural identity and makeup of the United States of America.
Some don’t like that, and they scratch and claw to make it otherwise.
Me—it’s what I love most about Charlottesville, about this country. We are diverse. Our diversity makes us stronger if only, as Nelson Mandela once said, we will learn to love one another.
As Governor McAuliffe said of the events, “I have a message to the white supremacists and the nazis who came into Charlottesville today. Go home. You are not wanted in this great Commonwealth. You pretend that you are patriots, but you are anything but patriots.”
Thank you for reading.