Tag Archive: Tolerance


The events of this past weekend were horrific, but they have brought us as a nation to a tipping point and simply put I don’t think our President is responding appropriately.

Neo-Nazi and White Nationalist groups are hateful and despicable, and there is no reason the President should have waited for 48+ hours to say that. Even if he was waiting for facts about the weekend as he claimed, you don’t need facts to specifically call out and label a Nazi or White Nationalist deplorable. There is no way to paint the rhetoric of these groups as anything other than hateful, and he could have said that clearly while reserving his right to defend their first amendment rights. He chose not to.

The timeline of Mr. Trump’s responses and the reaction he got from the media, public and alt-right respectively is really concerning. (Check out David Duke’s, a past KKK leader, twitter if you don’t believe my characterizations of the alt-right/White Nationalist response)
1) Mr. Trump initially blames “many sides”: media and general public outraged while alt-right praise him
2) Mr. Trump finally condemns Neo-Nazi and White Nationalist groups by name: media and general public still think it’s too little too late while alt-right get super angry and upset, claimed he was only pandering not really meaning his remarks
3) Mr. Trump tweets that he can’t do anything to make media happy even after condemning specific groups -alt right claim this is proof Trump was only following orders/advice from aides and never meant his condemnation to begin with.
4) Mr. Trump goes back to “many sides” line among other troubling and off the cuff remarks – alt-right groups again embrace and praise him, mainstream media widely criticism him.

Looking at these statements and the responses he was getting from the public/media vs the alt-right and whose opinion does it look like he values more?

Now lets look at his most recent statements from the press conference a bit deeper because there are two points I feel the need to discuss.

First at one point he used the term “us” and had to correct himself when referring to the alt-right. Yes he corrected himself, but he continued to use language indicating that the counter-protests were the “other side” throughout. How exactly am I supposed to believe that he doesn’t have a sympathy for the alt-right white nationalists?

Second, he vehemently indicated that there were “very fine” people on both sides. There are no “very fine” people who are willing to march under (or even in close proximity to) a Nazi flag. “Very fine” people don’t proclaim they are superior because they possess pale skin. No “very fine” person calls for the extermination or oppression of a group of people due to skin color or religious creed. A “very fine” person would have seen the march the evening before where people carried lit torches and chanted for the elimination of POC and Jews and would have decided to take action and leave if they didn’t want to be associated with that crowd’s philosophies.

Simply put Mr. Trumps remarks are not enough and even giving him the benefit of the doubt as to his intentions veer dangerously close into condoning the actions and philosophies of these extremist groups.

Many of these groups are fighting under Mr. Trump’s name, and if Mr. Trump DOESN’T want to be held responsible for them he needs to do more to publicly condemn them and publicly address and correct their “misconceptions” of his words. If these crazies really are misinterpreting him he has nothing to lose from setting the record straight and everything to gain in legitimacy as a leader.

He needs to recognize and take steps to correct the way his words are fueling rather than diffusing these groups. If he wants me to believe he doesn’t value the alt-right/Neo-Nazi opinion and vote he needs to take concrete action to disassociate himself. Not once has he publicly asked these groups to stop using his name, likeness and/or slogan to further their cause. Until he actually does that I’m going to call a spade a spade and assume he’s not only ok with them chanting his slogan, carrying his signs and praising his actions but that he wants them to do it.

I spent the better part of this past decade living within an hour of Charlottesville, Virginia; it’s a beautiful town that is home to many of my close friends and that holds many fond memories. To hear the name of this town become synonymous with hatred and violence is a startling and distressing turn of events.

I’ve never been blind to the racial issues boiling under the surface of daily life in Virginia, its impossible to miss. Virginia certainly has a long way to go to address the deeply rooted racial injustices of its past. Still I never thought there would come a day that a group of people would openly march under Nazi flags in that small college town.

As people are discussing the events of the past weekend I keep hearing from conservative pundits and alt-right sympathizers that it was just a demonstration against removing a confederate statue. Now to be completely fair I can actually make an argument for the preservation of Confederate monuments, and I do believe that it is within the rights of US citizens to peacefully assemble and protest. However these weren’t just a bunch of historians protecting our heritage. Specific hate groups started sponsoring and promoting the event and rapidly took over its purpose.

They even named it “Unite the Right” and the purpose as listed on the alt-right websites I visited listed nothing about the statue and everything about standing up against POC, Jews (referred to in derogatory names) and to promote white supremacy.

So protester who is claiming you were there about the statue answer these questions please:

If you want to claim that you weren’t aware of your protest being over taken by white supremacists, how do your actions show that you didn’t approve of them being there? If you were really there about ONLY the statue why didn’t YOU stand up and ask the Nazis to leave? Why didn’t YOU make it clear they weren’t welcome? If they refused to leave or didn’t want to confront them why didn’t you leave to avoid being associated with them?

Anyone who stayed at that protest after the tiki torch march the night before where idiots chanted racist and antisemitic hate speech knew full well who was marching with them on Saturday and chose to be complicit in their hate.

We are guaranteed the right to hold whatever opinions we want in this country. Even if I think your opinion is morally repugnant and evil, the government has no right to stop you from expressing those beliefs. You are allowed to be a hateful bastard in this country without fear of legal action from the government. That said your friends, community, employer ect. very well may have other consequences for you and your free speech doesn’t protect you from them.

Also the moment you stop following police direction and start using violence against others it has stopped being a legal protest. These groups refused to follow police orders as early as Saturday night, and continued into the morning. Long before there was a car into a crowd, there was violence from the alt-right toward the counter-protest.

While the initial and indeed the VAST majority of the blame for the chaos and violence on Saturday rest squarely on the shoulders of the white supremacist protesters that doesn’t mean that all of the counter protesters are completely blameless either.

While the initial and most deadly violence was caused by the Neo-Nazi side, “antifa” also used violence. If we are going to condemn the violence on one side we also must condemn the violence on the other. Even a few people using violence from allows the “many sides” comment to be made and gives people like the President room to legitimize the resistance. (more on that and the President’s response in a separate post)

This is where the let’s go “punch a Nazi” memes have angered me. While I understand the impulse to WANT to punch racist ass holes, that isn’t how our society was built. No matter how repugnant they have a right to SAY hateful things, and the government has to let them. It’s the government’s responsibility through law enforcement to keep that speech from becoming action. When we step up and try to take vigilante justice not only are we sinking to their level but we could possibly be putting law enforcement into a position where they have to defend these racist jerks because we’re the ones breaking the law.

It’s our job to use our own rights to peacefully and legally combat these idiots with our own rights of free speech. There are peaceful ways to disrupt racist rallies, and we HAVE to focus on that. As difficult and arguably unfair as it may be we have to be beyond reproach as we combat intolerance. It’s a hard road but going backwards into hate isn’t an option I’m willing to let happen.

So it may seem odd given that I am writing a blog on current events, but I HATE election season. As may be evidenced by my lack of posts over the past couple of weeks, during this time of year every 4 years I find it very difficult to not be outraged by the ever present election coverage. Since I currently live close to Washington DC and in a swing state, the never ending cacophony of election chatter has been like nails on a chalkboard. Honestly the blame game, the mud slinging, and the general effort to misinform voters in order to garner votes makes me want to scream.

This probably came to a head in church this Sunday when I came the closest I have ever come to storming out of a service. Let me preface this by saying that I acknowledge and accept that the church I currently attend is theologically more conservative than I am, and I have come to peace with that. I also believe that churches have a right to endorse a candidate publicly if they so choose as a matter of free speech. I was however unprepared for my church to plaster the message from Billy Graham on the large screens (I attend a megachurch) and ask that we all pray that the country votes for “biblical values” at all levels and for all candidates.

I grew up in a church, family and community that adored Billy Graham, and honestly I still admire the man greatly despite some theological differences; however when he posted the message I linked above in many newspapers I was exceedingly disappointed. First of all Billy Graham has been the “Pastor to Presidents” and part of what allowed this to be true was his ability to be a voice of faith beyond politics. Both of the versions of the add that have gone out have been directly endorsed and seem to usually be funded by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and while they don’t directly name a candidate, they are quite clear in their intent.

I also found it quite strange that just before the ad ran the website of the organization removed Mormonism as a “cult” on their website. Let me be clear that I do not see the Church of Later Day Saints as a cult and I would have liked to have seen that particular view changed a long time ago, however doing so in this manner seems to be a form of political pandering.  If standing by your “biblical” values in choosing a candidate is so important why was this view changed to allow for one candidate to no longer be seen as a cultist, while values of “biblical” marriage, Israel and abortion are elevated to special status in the importance of preserving America’s religious integrity.

I do believe that in general there is a candidate that Evangelical Christians will find more appealing theologically, however I do not agree that it is ok to fleece over things that might make the same candidate unappealing in order to make it easier for people to sleep at night. I also find it somewhat reprehensible to insinuate that you are “anti-biblical” and leading our country down an unholy path if you have decided that there are either other factors in your vote, or other ways to interpret particular issues. While the message did not directly imply those things the people who I have heard pushing this message upon others via Facebook and now through church have insinuated that.

My faith means a great deal to me, but so does my freedom to choose how and why I vote. I believe wholeheartedly that you have to view politics and by extension the law separate from your faith. I personally will never vote solely on what candidate has a religion closest to mine. I do however grant that people have a right to vote however they choose. If abortion or gay marriage are issues that are most important to you, then you have the right to vote how your conscience dictates, just please don’t judge my faith by your standards, or expect my vote to mean the same thing that your vote does.

We have a right to be independent free thinkers, I wish elections were celebrations of that rather than the divisive force that they have turned into. Please don’t mind me while I crawl into a hole and hide until this is all over.

EDIT: After reading Mayim Bailik’s blog, her thoughts captured so well what I was thinking right now. To share a quote:

“With the election approaching, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind people that Jews (and Christians and Muslims and Buddhists and Hindus and people of all religions) come in all flavors. Just because you’re religious doesn’t mean you are politically or socially conservative, and just because you’re an atheist or agnostic doesn’t mean you’re politically or socially liberal. Humans are very complicated and thank God we are.”

Thoughts on Facebook

Over the past few days Facebook has caused a lot of problems in my life. As a prior reader may recall I started this blog to be able to openly discuss my political opinions and opinions on current events out of the spotlight and constant bickering between friends of opposite political and social beliefs. Thus as a rule I tend to shy away from political comment there, and on rare occasion point people here if they want to know my opinion on something. This week however I was taught the hard way that the all powerful social beast that is Facebook can still bite you in the ass even when you aren’t tempting fate if it were.

While the specific details aren’t particularly important the situation spiraled out of control when a random comment was taken to be a political endorsement against gay rights. When a different friend pointed out that my post had not been about the political aspect that was assumed by the first commenter, they were accused of being a “bigot”.  Within a few minutes an innocent comment had turned into an all out attack. I clarified the original intent of both myself and the accused bigot, and asserted that calling someone a bigot is not called for in that situation. (I even pointed them back to my previous post about the “hate chicken” issue a few weeks back)

What frustrated and flabbergasted me most was that despite everyone else who commented on the status making it clear the original intent,  the original commenter remained steadfast that everyone involved was being hateful because of the perceived correlation between the comment and support of an organization that discriminates against gays.  In the end I lost a friend of 18 years over a status about popcorn and I find that simply astonishing.

That same day a friend of mine posted this to his status and I found it oddly appropriate:

“I love that I have so many friends who are politically engaged and aware. However, when it comes to Facebook, I appreciate much more hearing about their personal lives rather than their political beliefs… I feel that in-person people are much more inclined to be rational, civil and reasonable. There is something about this internet that prompts us to be more divisive … I do wish there was a political filter I could turn on.”

In person I know that the conversation that happened on Facebook would not have ended in the way it did because people ARE more rational in person. I have to believe that it would be harder to forget the times that both I and the accused bigot had stood by this particular friend, supported his life choices and loved him for who he was if he had to look us in the eyes. However that is not the nature of Facebook or other social media. All of the hate and prejudice that does get spewed across the internet all blends together and combined with the somewhat ironic faceless-ness of Facebook allows all of us at times to forget that real people sit behind those keyboards and smart phones.

Next time you see someone post something on Facebook that rubs you the wrong way I suggest you take a step back and evaluate the situation. At times we all need to remember that we don’t need to take our own personal axes to grind, or our own soap box pulpits into other people’s lives unless they are actively wanting and seeking that from us. People will have different thoughts and opinions and even if they choose to inappropriately share them (a personal pet peeve of mine) the world would probably be a lot more peaceful place if we just filtered the comment out and moved on with our lives.

Religion and Tolerance- Part II

Over the weekend the unrest across the globe has not weakened, and rather continues to grow.  My heart truly breaks as I hear people spout ignorant and hateful words blaming the entire groups of people who have nothing to do with what is going on.

 

I am horrified to see that the ignorance and misplaced hatred quite clearly goes both ways. The violent groups are taking out the anger and hatred caused by a few lunatics and turning it toward the larger east target of the US as a whole. Meanwhile so many people here are taking out their anger and frustration on Islam and the region as a whole.

 

I have no real ideas on how we can stop this vicious cycle, all I know that my thoughts and prayers will continue to hope for peoples hearts and minds to be opened.

 

I found this opinion piece to be quite interesting. Here are some key points that stuck out to me:

“The greatest threat to evangelicalism is evangelicals who tolerate hate and who promote hate camouflaged as piety.

No one can serve two masters. You can’t serve God and greed, nor can you serve God and fear, nor God and hate.

The broad highway of us-them thinking and the offense-outrage-revenge reaction cycle leads to self-destruction. There is a better way, the way of Christ who, when reviled, did not revile in return, who when insulted, did not insult in return, and who taught his followers to love even those who define themselves as enemies.”

“The way of Christ is a gentle strength that transcends the vicious cycles of offense-outrage-revenge.”

Religion and Tolerance

I have been deeply saddened by some of the comments that I have read responding to the rising tension in so many countries that seems to have been started by one hateful film. Comments from friends, political candidates and the media have all fueled the flames of hate and misunderstanding.

I pray that we can come out of this stronger and show that we will not be dragged into blaming all members of a faith for the actions of a misguided few. I pray that we can prove that those who would paint our nation as hateful and intolerant in order to justify violence are quite decidedly wrong. We must show that we are a nation of tolerance and acceptance for all people who embrace liberty and peace no matter what God they pray to or what building they do it in.

Here are some remarks that Secretary Clinton made that felt were quite appropriate, and that I desperately hope will continue to be true:

“I so strongly believe that the great religions of the world are stronger than any insults. They have withstood offense for centuries…Refraining from violence, then, is not a sign of weakness in one’s faith; it is absolutely the opposite, a sign that one’s faith is unshakable.”

“We can pledge that whenever one person speaks out in ignorance and bigotry, ten voices will answer…They will answer resoundingly against the offense and the insult; answering ignorance with enlightenment; answering hatred with understanding; answering darkness with light.”

“In times like these, it can be easy to despair that some differences are irreconcilable, some mountains too steep to climb; we will therefore never reach the level of understanding and peacefulness that we seek, and which I believe the great religions of the world call us to pursue…But that’s not what I believe, and I don’t think it’s what you believe… Part of what makes our country so special is we keep trying. We keep working. We keep investing in our future,”