by Dan Schmiechen
All the brutal physical violence and the pictures of general mayhem on the streets of Charlottesville, VA at a rally by White Nationalism were unbelievable. At first, I thought I was watching a South American city going through a revolution.
Then the planned killing as it tragically turned out to be of a young woman allegedly run down by a car driven by a White Nationalist. This heinous act reveals how deep hate can go. Our shared democracy is being assaulted. The woman holding a torch in New York harbor must wonder if she should move to another country. Would she even be granted immigrant status in America? By the way does anyone know the color of her skin?
The White Nationalists are teaching us new words for how to degrade and insult our neighbors. What is so creepily scary in Charlottesville is the reenactment of raw, uncensored propaganda methods used by the Nazis prior to World War II. We see the torchlight parades, venom spewing out of the mouths of young men, the pictures of the swastikas, Heil Hitler salutes, and the rallying cries of “Blood and Soil” and “Jews Will Not Replace Us”– Hitler’s national anthem for a pure, Aryan society.
The White Nationalists want to reinvent and affirm a white, repressive society. They not only appeal to the propaganda efforts of Hitler but they want to toss out the constitution of our country and redefine who is a true American. What we’re seeing unfold before our eyes (and no, I am not hallucinating) is that People of Color, Jews, Gays and Immigrants are stealing our white privileged way of life. And is that so bad? We Americans are often afraid to name something by its proper name and in this case, hatred is pure unaltered evil. Why? Because the above groups of people are portrayed as less than human.
What we saw in Charlottesville is that there are some who believe that God never bestowed “dignity and honor upon them” and that they are less than human. There are some people who believe that People of Color, Jews, Gays and Immigrants have no humanity but are a sub-species of the damned who should not exist.
That’s what is going on.
All of this darkness becomes so insidiously evil, and before I know it, my grandmother will be on the “list of the damned” because she once baked an upside down cake. There is a lot of nuttiness going on in the “moral swamps” in Washington DC, the “moral swamps” in the Twin Cities and wherever you live. All of us live in “moral swamps” where good fights for the higher ground over evil and where all humans struggle for inclusiveness.
This is a year of open season where dehumanizing people because of culture, sexuality and race are becoming normalized. Have we entered a time in American history where respect, tolerance and neighborliness will disappear? As Christians, as disciples of Jesus Christ– what is our response?
Our staying power does not come from ourselves but from God’s love in Jesus Christ. I believe the word is: “Hold fast to God’s good.”
*Hold fast means forgiving love can cross barriers; merciful grace can overcome hate; and neighborly acts can bind.
*Hold fast means neighbors can share trust and live in community.
*Hold fast means bridge building has not gone out of fashion.
When we let these clamorous voices of ill will and soul killing hate go unchallenged, our silence indicates consent.
As a Christian, a disciple of Jesus Christ – what is your response?
“Earth shall be fair, and all her people one; Nor till that hour shall God’s whole will be done. Now, even now, once more from earth to sky, Peels forth in joy our old undaunted cry: “Earth shall be fair and all her folk be one.” -from An Old Hymn
Dan Schmiechen is a retired minister and a member of Linden Hills United Church of Christ.