August 13, 2017, Prescott-
It’s rather ironic, that my journey series has reached the point where my next few posts will be about Antietam, Harpers Ferry, Harrisonburg/Lexington and Olive Hill, KY. I did not visit the seat of the University of Virginia, this time out. It is my late wife’s alma mater and Charlottesville is the first place where Penny heard about the Baha’i Faith. There is a strong Baha’i presence there, to this day. Were my fellows in faith to be given charge of this weekend’s gatherings, they may well have had white and black extremists cordoned off in one area, as was done at a Baha’i gathering in Orlando, several years ago. It taught more than a few of them the absurdity of their positions.
Fear has a lot to do with what went on, on both sides. Fear makes people do prudent things, like staying aware of their surroundings, watching where they put their hands and feet, not picking fights with those who could seriously cause harm. Fear also can make people do stupid things, like assume a person, who has certain physical features or styles of dress/adornment, is dangerous or argue a point, that they know is ridiculous, “could possibly be right.”
I believe every life matters, too. I believe it is right to learn from history and that it is wrong to try and erase history. There was once an emperor of China, who tried to expunge the record of every ruler who came before him. He wanted to rewrite history, in his own hand. It’s said that history is written by the victor, but that didn’t turn out so well, for said Emperor. Others kept records, then, and others will keep records, now. Those who remove our statuary are not being honest with children. They are no better than those who gave short shrift to the legacies of people of colour, over a nearly 200-year period. History needs to be full and balanced, if we are to learn from our errors, as a nation and as a species.
I am very saddened by the needless and premature death of Heather Heyer. This wanton act of murder had nothing to do with a certain number of Antifa members being mixed with the anti-Nazi protestors. Ms. Heyer was not with Antifa, nor was she “bused in by George Soros.” She was a Charlottesville resident, employed as a paralegal. It had everything to do with the killer’s being an impressionable young man, of questionable emotional stability, being influenced, to some degree, by the words and taunts of a good number of Ku Klux Klan and Nazi Party members. The reactions of many of the alt-right protesters does indicate they were not out to kill those who confronted them. The obscenity-laced comments filling the air- on You Tube videos- did, however, set some people off, including the errant driver.
It’s long past time to start serious, but respectful and frank dialogue. Let’s do it, anyway. It’s long past time for the President to set a strong tone of domestic leadership, aimed at getting differing sides together, peacefully, but nose-to-nose, if necessary. The air needs to be cleared of the noxious. Citizens, however, as was said this evening, at a candlelight vigil here, also need to set the moral tone, at their level.. No far-off politician can do all the heavy-lifting, nor should a local demagogue be allowed to stir up the passions of one segment of the populace, as happened in Charlottesville.
I am not any kind of supremacist. I am not any kind of ideologue. I have lived long enough to know that we lose, mightily, by excluding any group, based on any physical characteristic, faith or creed. So, on we go, without the vivacious young paralegal, who just wanted to love her community.