The nation and the world watched in heartsick disbelief this weekend as white supremacists gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia. Waving Nazi flags and raising the Nazi salute, the mob could not have made its racist ideology clearer.
Chillingly, the mob chanted “blood and soil,” a notorious catchphrase of the Third Reich. “Blood” refers to racial distinctions and asserts the superiority of whites over all others. Suppression of non-whites in a struggle for racial dominance is part of this distorted worldview.
“Soil” refers to geographical territory. In other words, those who shout this phrase insist that America is a white nation. They are claiming that whites should inhabit a privileged position politically and economically in the U.S. precisely because of their race.
For Christians, such ideas are appalling. We are all God’s children. In Christ we are all sisters and brothers. Every human being possesses infinite dignity, and it is our right, duty and privilege to respect each person we meet as God’s beloved. Everyone is equal before God. Everyone should be equal under the laws of the land.
Early yesterday, I made brief comments on social media. These comments were greeted with support but also with sharp, angry objections. I want to address those objections so that my denunciation of white supremacy is unmistakably clear.
Some objected that I denied that white people had the right to protest. On the contrary, peaceful, lawful protest is an essential democratic right no matter one’s race. However, a person’s right to protest does not allow them to seek the subjugation of others. Attempting to suppress other groups contradicts the very democratic principles ensuring our right to protest.
Still others insisted that the protestors were protecting Southern heritage. Ostensibly, they were referring to the pretext under which white supremacists sought to seize the day: removal of a statue of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee.
Nazi flags and salutes have nothing to do with Southern traditions. If they do, then I renounce my own Southern heritage. Additionally, I will support the rights of those who argue reasonably and peaceably against the statue’s removal, even though I disagree with them. This in no way prevents me from denouncing the hate of white supremacy.
Racism is a sin. White supremacy is a racist ideology. Its presence in Charlottesville was undeniable. It is our responsibility as followers of Christ to denounce this hate and violence without resorting to hate and violence ourselves.
We mourn those who died and pray for those who were injured in these events. Please join me in resisting white supremacy and in working tirelessly for justice for all.