To The Daily Sun,
I think it is time for me to attempt to cut through all the distractions and side issues brought up in the various responses to the tragedy in Charlottesville, and to point out the crux of what we should all reflect on. As POTUS said in his August 14 press conference, “There are two sides to a story.” That is, actually exactly the crux. And at least one recent letter to The Sun seems to consider this a game where we can keep score. And it seems if folks feel that equating the fact that there were violent protesters on each side is how they arrive at a tie score, then that is certainly missing the point.
Yes POTUS, there are two sides to this story. One side is pure evil and contrary to our most basic American values, and the other side is fighting for freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all groups of humanity. And I applaud the group that is fighting for right.
In our country’s history we have two major wars revolving around these issues to hopefully remember and continue to learn from, the Civil War and World War II. For both of those conflicts there were two sides to the story. One side was fighting for continued suppression of an entire race or in the case of WWII entire races, lifestyles, and religious beliefs. And the other side of each story was fighting for the freedom of those targeted groups. Yup, PPOTUS is right; there are two sides to a story. If I need to point out to you which of the adversarial sides in those two wars were the side of right, then you can go ahead and stop reading now. For the rest of you, all I can say is there are many things in our world that are worth fighting for, and fighting for the freedom of slaves and fighting against the Nazis were two very clear examples of fighting the good fight.
So all this rhetoric about there being thugs on both sides misses the point entirely. I have seen the videos and I would agree there were indeed counterdemonstrators who acted out violently as well as many of the white supremacist. But to distill this down to the basic question, this was a conflict and there were two sides to the story, and as to the cause each side were fighting for, which side was in the right and which side was not? I know my answer and it doesn’t include the neo-Nazis, the KKK, or the white supremacists. Some things are worth fighting for, and although I do not condone violence in our streets, I do know who caused the violence at its root in this instance.
Hate speech is protected under the 1st Amendment as long as it doesn’t incite immediate violence. Inciting defined: a transitive verb. To move to action, stir up, urge or persuade someone to act in a violent or unlawful way. Fighting Words; Words which would likely make the person whom they are addressed commit an act of violence. Fighting words are a category of speech that is unprotected by the 1st Amendment (Chaplinsky v New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568 - 1942.) The white supremacists acted in a clear manner to incite violence. Spewing hateful rhetoric and slogans arriving at the scene in battle gear, knowing full well what they were trying to cause.
But I want to take us back to the overriding question. Which of the two sides was representing our country’s values? There is no moral equivalency, don’t even try to go down that road. For POTUS to not see that and to be unable to distinguish between these two sides (right or wrong) is completely unacceptable. For my fellow citizens and residents of Laconia to think in the same manner, that this event’s tragic outcome needs to be blamed on both sides is sickening. I applaud the young and old people that made up the counter demonstrators and I completely support their willingness to confront this evil. THEY are the American heroes in this moment. To fail to acknowledge that, let alone celebrate their actions, but to instead attempt to frame some sort of equivalency to the two sides is a black stain on our history and I hope we learn and remember.