When I heard of the Charlottesville Neo-nazi and white supremacist protest, the first thought that went through my mind was, “Well, this is what we get for having legalized the Nazi Party in America.” I had long known that the Nazi Party was legally able to exist and assemble in the United States. I never thought that it had much support, so I didn’t think anything of it, until recently. The aggressive protest organized by white supremacists and Neo-nazis in Charlottesville is, and should be, widely considered hate speech by Republicans and Democrats alike.

There has been much debate over what is hate speech and what isn’t hate speech. The left claims that hate speech includes a broad swath of non-politically correct statements all the way to derogatory language aimed at people from different countries. I am not here to debate the semantics of the speech many Republicans claim is protected by the first amendment, but just the opposite in fact. The chants shouted by the crowed including, “Jews will not replace us!” and “White lives matter!” as well as “Our blood, our soil!” should be condemned as hate speech, and the people shouting these phrases should not be tolerated. These phrases are racist, bigoted, and hurtful in every way.

The rhetoric around whether or not we should tear down every single monument venerating the Confederacy, people associated with the Confederacy, or people associated with having owned slaves is quite divisive at this point. Yes, there were people in our history who owned slaves. Yes, there were people in our history who were considered great commanders and generals in our Civil War. Yes, there are monuments of both these groups of people in various locations ranging from Mount Rushmore to many cities in the southern states. But, I will not pretend to know what to do about these, because I have no idea. Some want the pedestals to remain, but the statue to be taken down and placed in museums. I’m not totally convinced that is the right way to go, but it is a good start to voicing solutions to this turbulent situation.

When the Allies beat the Third Reich at the end of World War II, Germany (and many other countries) flushed every ounce of Nazism and reference to Hitler down the metaphorical toilet and outlawed the many symbols used to reference the Nazi Party. To this day there are still buildings that were used by the Third Reich that remain standing. Some argue those buildings have some historical value, which is why they’re still standing. Others argue the buildings should be demolished since they were used for the benefit of Jew-hating, mass-murdering maniacs. I do not know whether we in America should have done the same when it came to our Civil War, but, in my opinion, we should be having more intelligent conversations with our city planners and officials about which buildings and symbols we demolish or outlaw.    

It was only a matter of time since Black Lives Matter (BLM) formed that a right-wing group would form to oppose them under the guise of “white lives matter.” The difference between the two groups is that the group of “white nationalists” in Charlottesville weren’t just saying white lives mattered, they were saying that white lives were the only ones that mattered. This crosses a line where BLM has stayed far away from since the creation of their organization. BLM only wants to make it clear to law enforcement, employers, and the systemic racism they see in society, that black lives matter just as much as white lives, not more. The “pro-white activists” are vehemently arguing that the white man is superior to the black man, just like Hitler did.    

Since Charlottesville, there have been many more antifa mobs defaming statues or toppling them over outright in the name of equality and good morals. This mob rule mentality is illegally taking over cities when they should be bringing forth their formal complaints to the city leaders, not taking matters into their own hands by removing or vandalizing statues. The violence they are inciting against these lifeless statues may not be so bad since they’re not physically hurting other people. But, when a violent aggressive protest is organized and anti-protesters show up to voice their opposition to the original protest with more violence and aggression, things get out of hand quite quickly. When two people fight, there’s no room for childish banter such as, “Well they started it!” While it takes two to tango, I want to make it very clear that everyone in their right mind should oppose this kind of hate speech spewed by white supremacists and Neo-nazis, but not by physically fighting back. There are other, more legal means, of opposing such rhetoric that don’t involve violence.

Lastly, I would like to address the so called “activism” around people posting pictures online and identifying the people that were a part of the Charlottesville pro-white activists in an attempt to get them fired. Employers have no legal right to fire these people based solely on their participation in a protest exemplifying “white-pride.” This means of retaliation by employers and online bloggers is not lawful and is inexcusable. Attempting to publicly shame someone on the internet like this is petty and spineless. People have been wrongfully identified from these posts and mistaken for the protesters that were actually there. Their reputation has been wrongfully ruined because of it.

While the phrases at the “pro-white activist” protest in Charlottesville should be condemned as hate speech by everyone, the work being done by the anti-protesters and antifa isn’t necessarily legal or right just because they’re opposing hate speech. Illegally vandalizing statues, mob protesting without a permit, provoking violent encounters with protesters, slandering people online, firing employees unlawfully, and justifying all of it in the name of “morality” is unconstitutional, and should not be permitted to occur. So, before you go and do these illegal things, just make sure, first and foremost, that you stay a lawful citizen and engage in thoughtful and informed conversations about the issues that are near and dear to your hearts. There’s always time for diplomacy.