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Posts Tagged ‘Charlottesville’

White Supremacists surrounding Counter-Protesters at Statue of Thomas Jefferson- UVA

“Less well known is the paradox of toleranceUnlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.”

Karl Popper, “The Open Societies and Its Enemies,” 1945

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I would like to be here this morning talking about cooperation and tolerance, about extending a hand of peace and understanding to those whose ideals and beliefs veer far afield from my own, which happens to be based on the equality and betterment of all people.

Well, that ain’t gonna happen today.

That was all blown to hell yesterday by a surreal press conference where the pOTUS* basically defended and sanctioned the behavior of  white nationalist/supremacist groups. To be blunt, he provided comfort and cover for Nazis.

In the time since I have heard moral outrage from the left and right as well as some who try to create an equivalency between the white supremacists and those who came to shout them down. One group came brandishing symbols of hatred and bigotry along with helmets, riot shields, masks, body armor, clubs, mace and guns– all supposedly to peacefully protest the removal of a Confederate statue. All the time chanting racial epithets and Nazi-era slogans.

On the other side were counter-protesters who were basically unarmed. True, there were a few sticks and pepper sprays but if you really watch the skirmishes, the neo-Nazis are overwhelmingly more armed and aggressive. And I didn’t see a gun on any of the counter group. Can you imagine the outrage on the right if a group of black men in camo carrying assault rifles had showed up like the white militia groups that acted as security on one side of the white supremacists flank?

But I have also seen many people argue for the legality of the white supremacists right to free speech, as much as we may dislike that.  We basically allow and tolerate hate speech in this country. While I understand and accept the legality of it, there is a counter-argument to that in the form of the Paradox of Tolerance–if you don’t stand up to intolerance at some point, if you allow those who would harm or take away the liberties and rights of other citizens, then you risk being destroyed by your tolerance by the intolerant.

We have been brought to an extremely dark place by a small, weak minded man who would willingly provide aid and comfort to the very people who stand against most of the basic tenets that we as a nation hold dear– equality, liberty and justice for all. We are at  a point where we must decide if we are willing to risk the existence of this  country as the land of liberty by turning a blind eye, thinking that it won’t affect us, and allowing these groups of hatred to flourish and grow or if we will make a united stand now.

Do we want to stop this before it becomes stronger and even more dangerous?

There is no turning away, as tempting as that seems. That is, in itself, a tacit endorsement of their brand of hatred. We have an administration and a pOTUS* that has lost all moral standing, having shown us yesterday who and what they really are.  So it is now upon us as citizens to protect the future of this nation. It is a responsibility and a duty. Make no mistake, there is no gray area here, no place for equivocation. You have to pick a side.

If we don’t stand up, don’t take action, the ugliness and the violence will grow. You will not dissuade these people with rational argument nor will they simply get bored and move on. A quick examination of history and of these groups’ beliefs and goals should provide proof of that. It will take the force and power of the collected citizens of this country to suppress this hatred.

My question to you today is: What side are you on?

 

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