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Why We Must Speak Out

by Erik Fogel | Aug 14, 2017 12:23:13 AM |

Charlottesville

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“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

 

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

 

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

 

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

 

(Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) on Germans not speaking out against the rise of the Nazis

 

Debate teaches us to stand up not to sit down, to advocate and not be silent, to challenge and not to blindly consent, to speak out for good and not give in to evil.

 

This weekend domestic terrorism struck again at a white nationalist rally featuring Nazi flags, burning torches, swastika armbands, KKK clothes, skinheads, “Heil Hitler” salutes - killing a 32-year old woman and injuring 19 others. Two state troopers were also killed in a helicopter crash who were monitoring the white supremacist rally. This follows the week prior of a bombing at a Minneapolis mosque.

 

While the President has been very direct and vocal in his anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and anti--minority-group rhetoric - the silence is deafening when it comes to condemnation of white racism and terrorism. Instead he blamed “many” groups and when asked to specifically condemn Nazis and white supremacists, he just walked out of the room in silence.

 

This is not a Democratic or Republican issue but a human issue of speaking out against bigotry and white domestic terrorism.

 

Republicans were just as critical as Democrats of the President’s silence. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), tweeted: “Mr. President - we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism.”   Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said that it was “very important” for the country to hear the president “describe events in Charlottesville for what they are, a terror attack by white supremacists.” Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said: "The violence, chaos, and apparent loss of life in Charlottesville is not the fault of 'many sides.' It is racists and white supremacists."[92] Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, whose brother was killed in action in Europe during World War II, tweeted, "We should call evil by its name. My brother didn't give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home."[93] Republican senator Cory Gardner called it domestic terrorism in a tweet,[94] and a few hours later Republican senator Ted Cruz wrote on Facebook, "The Nazis, the KKK, and white supremacists are repulsive and evil, and all of us have a moral obligation to speak out against the lies, bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred that they propagate." He continued, "Having watched the horrifying video of the car deliberately crashing into a crowd of protesters, I urge the Department of Justice to immediately investigate and prosecute this grotesque act of domestic terrorism."[95] (Wikipedia).  Virginia’s governor McAuliffe had this to say about the racist protestors, ”Let’s be honest, they need to leave America, because they are not Americans," he said.

 

A coalition of major civil rights and faith groups on Sunday called on the President to "directly disavow the white supremacists" who participated in violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, this weekend. ”It represents a failure of leadership from the nation's chief executive," the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, an umbrella group, said in a statement. "It is long past time for Trump to personally and unequivocally denounce white supremacy, violent extremism, and hate in all its forms.” Indeed, the President’s use of anti-Islam and anti-immigrant and hate rhetoric only empowers such groups. Words are weapons. Words can be more powerful than weapons.  And silence equally as powerful.

 

The Washington Post did write that Trump’s remarks did receive positive support and applause… from white supremacist groups on his silence and inaction. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/08/13/one-group-loved-trumps-remarks-about-charlottesville-white-supremacists/?utm_term=.f97c8b6a0f70)

 

We are inspired at national condemnation of white supremacy and domestic terrorism. People around the nation marched Sunday in support of Charlottesville. There were more than 130 rallies from New York to California. If we do not stand up, if we do not speak out - then our silence encourages hate. Indeed, rather than being cowered by white supremacist rallies and terrorism, the Mayor of Lexington, Kentucky stated that he would follow Charlottesville example and remove Confederate-era monuments from the city.  

 

As Martin Luther King Jr. stated, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." - from ‘Letter from Birmingham, Alabama Jail’, April 16, 1963 (Martin Luther King. Jr.)

 

If you are looking for ways to directly support organizations challenging the white supremacists in Charlottesville, there are several websites with more information:

 

https://www.bustle.com/p/5-organizations-that-fight-the-alt-right-support-anti-racists-desperately-need-your-help-76185

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/if-the-clashes-in-charlottesville-have-you-rattled-heres-how-to-help_us_598f73b0e4b09071f69a178e

 

http://www.refinery29.com/2017/08/167766/charlottesville-virginia-protest-support

 

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