activism,  charlottesville,  justice,  peace,  personal responsibility,  social justice

Make a Choice

I have been working on this piece off and on since the events in Charlottesville August 11 and 12. It is longish at 1342 words. It is not a political statement. It is my moral position on possibly the single most destructive evil in the United States: racism.

When I lived in Birmingham, Alabama, I met a couple who had recently returned to the states after living abroad for several years. They had a young son about 8 years old who had been born while they were overseas. That fall, well into football season, he came home from school and asked his parents if they were for Alabama or Auburn. His parents, new to the area and not understanding football culture in the South, told him it didn’t really matter — he didn’t have to pick a team. The son seemed okay with that answer. However, when he came home from school the next day he told his mother that yes it did matter and they were going to have to choose: Alabama or Auburn. This is a funny story about the importance of making a choice. However, even though sports rivalries run deep, people can support different teams and still live together peacefully.

Today, we are faced with a rival that is more virulent than any football fanatic. This rival would extinguish all that is good in the country and replace it with a hate-filled ideology that would leave many of our fellow citizens in grave danger. Unlike choosing a football team to cheer for, we have to choose a position and course of action that’s much bigger and much more important than a sports rivalry. The integrity of the country is at stake. We must choose: are we going be on the side of what is right or are we going to choose hate? Are we going to pick up tiki torches and try to eliminate our fellow citizens? Or are we going to stand against those who would so?

This a choice each of us must make right now. You may think you don’t want to get involved. You would rather think positively and ignore the evil that is no longer lurking but is, instead, baying loudly at the gates of freedom. You do have a choice to make. This is not Alabama versus Auburn or OSU versus OU or Carolina versus Clemson. Staying neutral or urging both sides to compromise is deadly. White supremacists are not neutral. They are actively working to bring their ideology to reality. The ostrich approach helps them. If you refuse to counter them, you default to being their accomplice.

Asking people to work together, to find a middle ground, to compromise is a weak position. Compromise means all sides give up something in order to come to a solution. The problem with compromise is everyone loses something. Someone is always unhappy with the results. What would the side that insists on equal rights for all humans give up? Would they agree to be rounded up and forced to live in 21st century Warsaw-like ghettos in exchange for the white supremacists agreeing not to kill them? Would they agree to be sterilized so they couldn’t give birth to any more mongrel children? Would they agree to wear identification at all times so they could never intentionally or accidentally enter into the whites-only areas of the country?

If you think all that sounds ludicrous, it’s because it is. Only ONE side is in the right. You can not compromise on justice, on equality, on treating all humans with compassion and love. The neo-nazis are in no position to compromise. The only acceptable solution is for them to completely forgo their hateful ideologies. They must repent. They must make amends. If you stand in the middle, you stand with them. The only place to stand is against them. Always. No exceptions.

This is not a time for “can’t we all get along,” “I have friends of all colors and religions,” or “if you treat me right, I’ll treat you right.” Standing in the middle will get people killed. It may well get your friends and family killed. How many of you are biracial? or have biracial children or grandchildren? or adopted non-white or Jewish children or grandchildren? How many of you have non-white or Jewish family or friends whom you love and cherish? If you care about these people, don’t stand in the middle. Stand on the only side that works for their civil rights, for justice, and for peace. The white nationalists want none of that. They want to ethnically cleanse this country of the people you love. Don’t give them the space to do so by acting as if there is a compromise to be made. There is no compromise with evil.

I have heard the argument that there is violence on both sides which makes both sides equally at fault. No. Simply No. There is no equivalency between protesters marching for justice and protesters marching to cleanse the country of non-white citizens — even if violence breaks out on the side of the justice-marching protesters. Violence is sometimes an unfortunate side effect of high emotions, especially when people feel wronged. Violence also too often comes at the hands of opportunists like anarchists and antifas and black blocs who are not true allies of those who seek equality, justice, and peace. Don’t be confused and don’t let their violence distract you from the core issue: only one side stands for evil — the white supremacists.

I am a pacifist. I don’t believe in violence. Yet I can tell you, if I wake up and discover neo-nazis dragging my black neighbor out to lynch him, I will take forceful, violent action to the best of my ability to stop them. If you wouldn’t do the same, I have to question your moral character. Perhaps queue up the old World War I movie Sergeant York about Alvin York whose faith made him a pacifist but whose desire to preserve life and do the right thing made him a war hero. In war there is violence on both sides. We are in a war against a sinful, evil ideology. If you think it will go away without people forcefully countering it, you are enabling that evil. Worse, if you think ugly ideologies will always be with us and, consequently, we should just ignore it and go about our business, you are in league with Germans who did the same in Nazi Germany. White supremacist ideology is not to be ignored. We must shine a bright light on it, declare it the evil that it is, and seek to eradicate it.

If you are Christian, look to the counsel provided in Matthew 18: Confront those who do evil. Make it public. Hold them accountable. Be on the side of what is right. This isn’t a case of choosing a sports team to follow. This is a case of choosing good over evil. Of choosing love over hate. Don’t equivocate.

We have allowed this ugly boil to fester on our national body too long. It should have been lanced decades ago. If should have been lanced after the Civil War but weak men made compromises that allowed the infection to grow through Jim Crow laws. It should have been lanced during the Civil Rights Movement yet everyday citizens allowed it to spread by staying uninvolved. Nearly 50 years after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., it’s time to lance the boil once and for all.

Yes, you must pick a side. I hope you pick the side of equality, justice, peace, and love. Staying silent is not an option. Playing compromiser is not an option. This is not about politics. It’s not right versus left or Republican versus Democrat or conservative versus liberal. Political whims change over the years. This battle is about character. Your character and our collective national character. Are we a country of tiki-torch-bearing evil-doers? Or are we a country that stands for equality, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? What do you stand for? Make a choice and act on it. Idleness and complacency feed the evil. Let’s work together to starve the evil to death.

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