Last Friday, we took our niece Lana to Charlottesville to see Thomas Jefferson’s home at Monticello. On Saturday, the KKK, White Supremacists and Nazis gathered in that same city , sparking violence and terrorism resulting in the death of three people. The juxtaposition between the two days could not have been greater.
America’s founding fathers were flawed individuals as we all know. Jefferson’s proclamation that “All men are created equal….” conflicts with the fact that he owned over 600 slaves. As we toured Monticello, our guide didn’t hide the facts, but discussed them openly. Part of what makes America great in my mind is that as we march forward and progress, we aren’t afraid to confront our past. That was so true at Monticello as we discussed slavery, Sally Hemmings, and the fact that Jefferson only freed 10 of his slaves during his lifetime. We aren’t a perfect land, but we improve, and we will continue to improve.
Contrast that with Saturday, when these racists, white supremacists and Nazis advocated violence and followed through. Their vision of the future of America stands in stark contrast to what most of us feel and think. The vast majority of these terrorists came from outside of Virginia, and were here to cause trouble. In that, they succeeded. The police were slow to respond and the violence escalated, resulting in three deaths, including two police officers. These hate-mongers don’t represent me, my Virginia, or my America.
My niece Lana is a person of color, as are many of my friends, West Point classmates and coworkers. We all need to stand against this type of hatred. Don’t be silent, speak out. Speak out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media. More importantly, speak out in person, and be the right kind of example. These vile people need to know that there is no place for them or their bigotry in our America.