By Beverly Gadson-Birch
The “Unite the Right” Rally was held in Charlottesville, VA on Saturday, August 12, to protest the removal of a statue of General Robert E. Lee. The rally proved to be a deadly encounter between right wing extremists and those that oppose their ideology. Heather Heyer, 32 years old of Charlottesville, was mowed down by a car driven by James Alex Fields, Jr., age 20, of Maumee, Ohio, a Unite the Right extremist.
Where is all this hate coming from at such a young age? The protesters gathered in Emancipation Park of all places—a place that denotes freedom. According to Charlottesville’s history, the park was previously named Lee Park. No one asked me but when the park was renamed Emancipation Park, the statue should have been removed then. It is just so out of place in Emancipation Park.
Gov. McAuliffe is to be applauded for his swift and stern denunciation of the incident that erupted in violence between the two sides and led to the death of Heather Heyer and more than 30 others injured. Two officers patrolling the rally also died when their helicopter crashed. Gov. McAuliffe message was clear and to the point, “Go Home; you are not wanted here.”
Following the Charlottesville incident, the President was criticized for his less than forceful remarks. Trump said he condemned “the egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.” Not enough Mr. President, simply not enough. The problem with the President’s statement is it gives rise to more same violence. It falls just a little bit short of putting his stamp of approval on Extremists activities.
A snake needs to be called a snake and not a kitten. He knows who he is. When you are dealing with a snake you must cut the head of and the tail will die. Similarly, if you want to scare a snake out of a bush, you must make some noise.
President Trump did not make enough noise. He did not come down hard enough on the Extremists to scare them out of the bush. Some are still hiding behind masks and dressed up in business suits. Extremists must be dealt with swiftly and with the short arm of the law. Trump’s message must be loud and clear and not lost in watered down rhetoric.
America must denounce the unlawful acts of Extremists.
America claims to be a civilized society, right? Extremists, Klu Klux Klan, hatred, bigotry, skinheads, etc., have no place in a civilized society. Extremists are driven by hate, not love.
On Sunday, the local Chapter of National Action Network (NAN) held a press conference and rally on the Battery next to the “Confederate Defenders of Charleston” condemning the violence in Charlottesville and the President’s failure to address the extremists’ more sternly. Elder Johnson said it was a good time to revisit the Calhoun Monument in Marion Square just a few doors down from Mother Emanuel where nine church members were tragically murdered.
After much prompting from his staff, the President came out with a harsher condemnation of Saturday’s violence in Charlottesville.
On Monday, supporters of the Confederacy were seen on the Aviation overpass carrying Confederate flags. The protest was allowed to go on for a couple of hours. Why weren’t these protesters hauled down from their lofty perched? They could have caused an accident during commuters’ early morning drive to work. Curiosity got the cat killed and commuters in heavy morning traffic on I-26 could have had an accident as curiosity got the best of them. Law enforcers and government officials, y’all ain’t doing your job. Your job is to protect citizens. Protesters may have a right to peaceful protests but not atop an overpass.
Then, Chairman Bessenger of the Secessionist Party issued a Press Release of their own regarding National Action Network’s (NAN) rally on Sunday. Bessenger strongly condemned Pastor Thomas Dixon’s remarks at Sunday’s rally. He quoted Pastor Dixon as saying, “We can’t treat them like humans” and called it the “foulest form of hatred”. Bessenger went on to say, “These folks pretend to preach “equality” and “tolerance” while spewing the same hatred and bigotry they claim to be against.”. White folk have a problem calling black folk by name. Who ‘da heck is he calling “these folks”?
While I don’t see an immediate end to the hatred, name calling and violence, Y’all don’t do as others do but continue to “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (St. Matthew 5:44). I know that’s a tall order to fill but you can do it! Are y’all feeling me?