A 32-year-old paralegal named Heather Heyer died Aug. 12 in Charlottesville, Va., after neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klansmen descended on her hometown. They were there, they claimed, to protest the removal of a Confederate statue. That was certainly their right, but that was only partly true. Mostly, they were there to spew hate. Heyer was marching amid a crowd of counter-protesters, calling for peace and justice, when a white nationalist plowed his car into a crowd, killing her.
Message to President Trump: There is no moral equivalency between good people and neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klansmen, many of whom “protested” in military fatigues and brandished semi-automatic weapons in Charlottesville.
Both sides were not equally to blame for the violence that broke out. Only one side was: the white nationalists who came to instill fear in people who don’t look like them and who don’t follow their bitterly angry ideology.
In the U.S., we purport to be a melting pot, a country of immigrants and freed slaves where all voices and all cultures can be accepted and integrated, to the betterment of us all. While we have long struggled to live up to this ideal, there is no better time than now to show we believe in it by standing up to those who claim that America is a country for white people only.
Let the beautiful life and tragic murder of Heyer serve as reminders that we have a long way to go before we achieve true racial and social harmony. Her brave sacrifice must be remembered.
Now, as a toxic set of principles that we believed was long ago vanquished explodes back into the nation’s social consciousness, we cannot condone it through silence. We must stand up to evil, and we expect our president to lead us in that effort. The trouble is, last week Trump equivocated. He appeared to take a stand against white nationalism only when forced to do so by advisers, and then, in tweets and remarks to the press, he drew little to no distinction between fascist wannabes and anti-fascist protesters.
Now it’s time for all of us to let Trump know that’s not OK. We suggest you take to Twitter to send that message loud and clear. If Trump speaks to us 140 characters at a time, then we must respond in language that he understands. So, here are tweets you might send him with the hashtag #LIstandsuptohate. Some have already been sent to him by Twitter users, while we have come up with others.
No matter what, don’t be silent. Keep speaking up — now and in the future.
• @realDonaldTrump I thought the U.S. learned from Nazi Germany, but I guess not. As a Jew, I’m afraid.
• White supremacists bristle at the idea that people of color should have their voices heard the same way white people have.
• No race is superior to another.
• Confederate figures fought for the right to own other human beings.
• Never thought we’d need to confront a rising neo-Nazi threat in the 21st century. Last week left me bewildered, nauseated.
• There is no such thing as “very fine people” who march with Nazis.
• Whether Muslim, Christian, Jew or otherwise, people should not be afraid to practice the religion of their choice.
• Removing Confederate monuments is not erasing culture. It’s reversing over a century of white resistance to black rights.
• There is no similarity between Nazis and those who oppose them.
• Your equivalency is a tacit endorsement of white power ideology.
• “Why is equality so assiduously avoided? Why does white America delude itself, and how does it rationalize the evil it retains?”— The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
• White supremacy is an inherently violent set of ideals.
• Millions died from the scourge of Nazism. It must never happen again.
• In America, everyone should receive the same level of respect, regardless of color or religion.
• Justice and liberty for all is a concept that should never be compromised.
• Fascists cannot be ignored when they march in the streets with rifles.
• The term alt-right only obscures what it truly is: racism.
• No race is superior to another. To claim otherwise constitutes hate.
• Charlottesville reminds us that racism and bigotry are still American problems.
• Heather Heyer died protesting racism. We must follow her example and raise our voices.
• “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” — Bishop Desmond Tutu