The day ‘hate raised its ugly head’

Published 9:47 am Wednesday, August 23, 2017

It doesn’t take courage to stand up to hate, it takes integrity

Hate raised its ugly head in Charlottesville. The Nazis, white supremacists and KKK rallied under the pretense of opposing the removal of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s statue, their real motive was to spread hate.

Multiple issues surround this tragic day. First, it goes without saying, all who engaged in violence — whether left or right — should be held accountable.

The issue of Confederate memorials has become a flash point in our society. Being born in Virginia, raised on a tobacco farm, a product of Virginia elementary and high schools and having a cousin who survived Pickett’s charge attacking Cemetery Ridge in the battle of Gettysburg, I have empathy for those who want to preserve memorials to Confederate leaders and soldiers.

I can also understand the sentiment of those who see the memorials as honoring those who fought to preserve slavery, which the south was doing. What should our society do?

First, the extremist of both the left and the right will provide no solution. Their extremism disqualifies them from the conversation.

A good starting point is what Lee said in 1869 regarding placing memorials at Gettysburg: “I think it wiser, moreover, not to keep open the sores of war but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife, to commit to oblivion the feelings engendered.”

That being said, the monuments are there. All reasonable voices should have input into the decisions about these memorials’ fate. One obviously shouldn’t “erase history” — we should learn from it.

I would think that reasonable people could come together and create an agreement that respects both those who would preserve the monuments and those who are rightfully offended by them.

This decision might include moving some statues to private property.

Those not moved should have an explanation as to why slavery is deplorable and the fighting to perpetuate it was wrong.

Additionally, the memorials not moved should have another memorial placed prominently alongside them to the true heroes, like Harriet Tubman who fought slavery via the underground railroad.

This could turn the controversy into a teaching event.

Of course, this ignores the elephant in the room. I never thought that I would have to state that Nazis, white supremacists and the KKK are vile (vile doesn’t convey the extreme opprobrium needed to describe these people).

I am quite disappointed that too many of our elected officials can’t bring themselves to call out these groups. Does anyone not know what they are?

Why do so many in the Republican party fail to call out the hate groups by name? President Donald Trump delayed 48 hours reading a statement someone had written for him to denounce these horrible groups and within a day recanted by expressing his true beliefs in an improvised news conference.

Trump asked, “Where does it end?”  It ends when we as a nation are willing to acknowledge our blemished heritage, when we unequivocally denounce hatred and when we accept all Americans as equal.

Not until then.

Bruce Brandon lives on a farm near Dundas. His email address is