The events of this past Saturday in Charlottesville were indeed tragic. A young lady lost her life peacefully exercising her 1st Amendment rights. She was protesting a rally of white supremacists / Nazis and the KKK when one of those white supremacists drove his car into a group of protesters and killed AAA and injured numerous others.
Let me perfectly clear, while those groups do indeed have the right to rally and express their views, I abhor everything they stand for. America is not a nation about hate, rather it is a nation about freedom and it is a nation built on liberty and opportunity for all. While such groups do exist, thankfully their numbers are tiny. Whether the number of white supremacists in America is 100,000 or 1 million, in a nation of 330 million people they are by any stretch, a fringe element, a tiny fraction. America has mostly turned away from such hate so that such views, while protected, are, thankfully, largely absent from the public square.
That being said, I must also point out that those white supremacist groups were not the only bad actors at that rally. While many good people were in Charlottesville to peacefully protest the white supremacist groups, there were many others who were there to instigate trouble and cause violence. As we have seen over the course of the last few years groups such as Antifa, or others have become well known for creating violence around the country. That was true on Saturday in Charlottesville as well.
At the end of the day, wherever the violence comes from, whether from white racists or anti capitalist anarchists, it is wrong and Americans of all stripes should condemn it. This is particularly true because the fact of the matter is that Americans, whoever they are, have far more in common with their fellow Americans than they do with others outside of the country, regardless of what group they identify with. White Americans likely have far more in common with black Americans than they do with most white people from Europe. By the same token, blacks in America generally have far more in common with their fellow white Americans than they do with practically anyone living on the continent of Africa. The same holds true for Hispanics in America vs. Hispanics in Latin America or gays in America vs. gays in the middle east or many other places in the world.
For all of our differences, the United States of America is a nation built on freedom, liberty and opportunity. Most certainly our history is not pristine, but then as with all nations of men, none is. From European colonization to African tribes selling members of other tribes into slavery to the tyrannies of Communism or socialism, no nation or heritage is pristine. But here in the United States our Founding Fathers gave us the tools to advance our society, to make it better as we pursue life, liberty and happiness. They gave us a Constitution that gave us the 13th and 14th Amendments which in turn gave us the civil rights bills of the 1960s. And the 19th Amendment.
They also left us with something unlike anything found anywhere in history… Our bill of rights, which promises a freedom of speech unprecedented in human history. The 1st Amendment isn’t necessary to protect popular speech, as no government would try and suppress a speech about puppies or teddy bears. No, the 1st Amendment exists specifically to protect speech many fine abhorrent, such as we heard in Charlottesville last Saturday. That is the point. It is only by protecting such fringe speech do we protect all speech. Freedom of speech is not freedom to commit violence however, and that is exactly what happened on Saturday, from both the permitted groups and some of the counter protesters. While the freedom of speech should be respected, violence should not be accepted. The 1st Amendment, along with the rest of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution were written specifically to protect the republic from being taken over by mob rule… which is exactly what the those who seek to incite riot desire. We will not allow that.
America is most certainly not perfect, and the events in Charlottesville clearly demonstrate that, but thankfully, events such as those are an anomaly, far from the norm. Most Americans are not racists, are not fascists, not part of violent mobs and do not seek to shut up those they disagree with. On the contrary, most Americans busy living their lives, they are interested in having a good job, providing a good life for their families, getting their children a good education and of course enjoying their freedoms. They are not out to cause trouble, to spout racist chants or throw Molotov cocktails through a Starbucks widow. And for that we should all be grateful.
And in closing, I would like to say, if we as Americans spend more time focusing on the things that bind us, focusing on the broader things that make America great, like industry, innovation and strengthening our communities, events like those that took place in Charlottesville will be but a tiny blemish on the spectacular vista of our lives. America is not perfect, but it possibly as close as humans have seen and it is truly a gift from God. As we go through our daily lives, if we remind ourselves to focus on her opportunities, on her many advances and on the fact that most Americans are good people, tensions might subdue and we can all get back to the business of pursuing happiness for everyone.