Like most good people, I watched in horror the video coming out of Charlottesville, Virginia. We saw ignorance on full display. A group of white nationalists with a permit protesting the removal of a Civil War statue of General Robert E. Lee.
No doubt, these people who call themselves “white nationalists” are racists because they believe in the superiority of one race, the white race. Most of us believe we are Americans, black, white, Jew, Catholic, Muslim, every faith and no faith at all. We respect the right to live in peace as one people.
However, the First Amendment gives racists, bigots and all haters a right to peaceful assembly. It is what makes America different; some might even say exceptional from many other nations around the world.
Once violence erupts, it is the job of law enforcement to step in and make arrests and call in the National Guard if need be to help keep the peace.
As a former television news reporter for nearly 30 years, I attended dozens of these events. Thankfully, most ended without violence. Stupid people said and did stupid things but everybody kept their cool. Back then, protestors and counter protestors throwing things and engaging in violence were handcuffed and jailed.
January 24, 1987, I covered the Reverend Hosea Williams march in Forsyth County. An estimated 20 thousand people converged after a small march led by Williams a week earlier resulted in bricks and bottles being thrown. Williams led the original march there because of a widely-held belief that no African American people lived in the county. Horrible, racist, bigoted things were said to us covering these events. Back then, we considered the misguided source, did our jobs and left without incident.
I may not approve of your cause or your words but I will defend to the end your right to say what you think. When we shut down free speech we become a police state. We need to remember our history, remember the war that nearly tore our country apart and fight like hell not to repeat it.
I’m Joyce Oscar