A front page article in this morning's World-Herald reports, "Emboldened and proclaiming victory after a bloody weekend in Virginia, white nationalists are planning more demonstrations to promote their agenda after the violence that left a woman dead and dozens injured."
It's hard for me to understand where the 'victory' is. A young woman killed? Dozens injured? Clashes and rioting in the streets? I don't get how any of that is a victory at all.
I'm also deeply concerned. You see, my daughter was born in Korea. Yes, she was raised in a white household, but she is considered brown. My grandson's father is Native American, African American and white, which means my grandson is beautifully brown, with amazing facial features. (My grandson captures the attention of every woman in every grocery store. My how they flirt with him!) Beyond my own family, the children and grandchildren of my congregation are mostly brown. Two of the children have a Japanese mother and a white father. Three grandchildren of one member are biracial. Several of the grandchildren are partly Hispanic. In other words, the white supremacists, white nationalists and the neo-Nazis hate the children and grandchildren that I know and love so much.
It has caused me to ponder the First Amendment, a huge gift to hate-mongers. My best guess is that the framers of the Constitution were not thinking "let's protect prejudicial and hateful people and what they say" when they wrote the First Amendment. I think (I didn't take constitutional law, so I can be corrected on this) that they wanted U.S. citizens to be able to speak out against the government without fear of being arrested for sedition. They wanted to protect speech so that full debates could happen about meaningful subject matter. What would they have thought had someone said, "I want to espouse my whites only beliefs"? Would the framers have paused, and modified the First Amendment?
So, maybe it is time to rethink protecting hate speech. Does good dialogue come out of it? What good does come out of what the white supremacists groups are protesting about? Would our congressional leaders be willing to at least look at what the First Amendment protects and ponder if some change is in order?
And, for the rest of us, what can we do? Maybe we listen again to Martin Luther King, Jr., who said, "The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."
The rest of us must love, must act out of love, must love those who are unlovable, must treat others with loving kindness and respect. We might even have to love those who are hateful.