Fears in the Wake of Tragedy: While We’re Waiting

At least one person is dead. Roughly two dozen more have been pronounced as injured. One man, a 20-year-old from Ohio,1 has been arrested for murder as his mind and heart was filled with such rage over a protest that he decided to turn his automobile in to a weapon, gaining as much speed as he could down a narrow alley before plowing it hood first into a pack of individuals. Having watched the video of this incident, hearing the screeches and screams and the a collision, seeing the running and fear and debris, it’s a miracle that there were not more injured — at least physically.

On Saturday morning, it was a litany of memes. While the white nationalist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia was rooted in hate — hate of races, religions, or beliefs differing from those held so dear by those marching — it started innocently, the internet poking fun at the absurdity of white males acting as if they are the oppressed ones. The polos. The khakis. The tiki torches — a product rooted in Polynesian culture, sold at Party City. All to “Unite the Right.” Imagery of the men on the front line quickly went viral, leading to some of the Friday Night Marchers to lose their jobs, but allowing many more to get some jokes off at their expense.

Jokes are good. They’re great, even, especially when in the face of otherwise vile individuals setting out to “unite” while actually doing the opposite. One even had the balls to say he didn’t think images of him would go viral and that we shouldn’t judge a book by it’s hateful cover. But then things took an immediate turn for the worst in an act of cold-blooded domestic terrorism. And while everyone in a position of national leadership but the President of the United States of America is willing to decry it as such,2 a 20-year old whose mother said “he had an African-American friend…” caused the death of a 32-year-old woman whose last words online were “if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”

The question I’m left with as a loving, caring, and accepting citizen of the United States: When will it stop? As Nelson Mandela stated, we’re not born to hate. But just as we’re not born to hate, this hate didn’t start to fester on November 8, 2016 — it’s that certain groups felt outward display of their hate was more acceptable upon the decision handed down that evening. Individually — be it something as horrifying as the outcome of this rally, something as ephemeral as the hate speech spray painted on the garage of LeBron James, or anything in between — they can be viewed as happenstance countered with whataboutism. What about emails? What about Antifa? What about BLM? As a whole, however, it’s much different. It’s something that stretches way beyond politics. As Chris Long, a Charlottesville native, put best: It’s about right and wrong.

Someone lost their life standing up for what was right, brutally murdered, at random, by someone who undeniably stood for wrong. The man driving his car at unsafe speeds into a crowd of individuals was not targeting any one of them independently; he was targeting their beliefs being different than his and wanted to cause harm to as many of them as possible.

If (when?) the President of the United States finally comes out and calls out these individuals for what they are rather than touting job numbers, Merck Pharma, and releasing a tone deaf campaign video in the wake of a tragedy,3 that’s only the start. My fear lies in the belief that there will be other instances like what happened this past weekend before we start to see any sort of correction from wrong to right. For all of the good that Twitter provided throughout the course of this tragedy, I saw one individual say that those marching in Charlottesville on Friday night were operatives “planted by the left.” Given these mental gymnastics, my fear lies in the belief that there would have been many more individuals in Charlottesville, carrying tiki torches and chanting hate-filled rhetoric had it not been for logistical issues like travel. My fear lies in the belief that, as I’m typing out thoughts on a public display of hatred and bigotry, there are countless others celebrating what happened behind closed doors. My fear lies in the fact that, as a father,  I don’t know what to do about any of this outside of raising my daughters to not only understand right from wrong, but to ensure they uphold those values each and every day. My fear lies in the belief that even if I do my best, it won’t be enough.

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  1. A non sequitur to some, but this detail shows this level of hate isn’t limited to south of the Mason Dixon line. []
  2. “Certainly I think we can confidently call it a form of terrorism,” the adviser, Lt. Gen H.R. McMaster, said on NBC’s “Meet The Press.” []
  3. And not in some prepared statement issued by a White House communications staffer. []
  4. As if a Wright Thompson story wouldn’t lead things off… []
  5. A master class on how to cover an otherwise ephemeral news item. []
  6. What happens when communications areas don’t treat teams like classified codes? Good things. []
  7. Holy shit this piece. []
  8. I mean if the headline doesn’t do the trick, why are you even here? []