I believe…sometimes there IS only one side


In my previous post I spoke of the need to find middle ground between ideological extremes. This is what dialogue is all about. But, what if there IS no middle ground? What if an ideology is not only wrong, but dangerous? What if there is nothing to dialogue about?

This past weekend’s events in Charlottesville, VA laid bare the ugly reality of racism and bigotry in America.

Nazi, white-supremacist, and racist ideology is WRONG. It is EVIL. There is no common ground on which to begin a dialogue.

Any decent person with a decent knowledge of history should shudder at the sight of swastikas and Hitler style salutes. The images dig up memories of one of the most horrific mass exterminations of human life, of hatred systematically acted out in the executions of millions of men, women and children.

And yet, there they were. Hitler’s ideological descendants.  Marching on the streets of small town America. Using their right to free speech to spew hatred of the “other”. Claiming that their own white, privileged lives were under attack. Flaunting the support of the man whom they helped to elect president. And, support them he did.

By claiming that “many sides” were at fault for the violence, Trump claimed a false equivalency between the alt-right, white supremacists and those who came to protest them in the name of basic human equality. Despite the back-pedalling of the White House, Trump had clearly shown where his loyalties lie. A man who based his political platform on name-calling, refused to call by name the evil of nazi, racist, white supremacy.

There are moments in history where dialogue is not the answer. When evil rears its ugly head, threatening the security of all, it must be fought. It is not the time for nice words. It is not the time for seeking middle ground.

After hearing Trump’s speech, hubby and I were both reminded of a dark chapter in our family history. One of our daughters and her friend were sexually harassed in high school. The harasser was obviously emotionally disturbed. We feared for the safety of the girls. We spoke to teachers, the principal, and the school superintendent. We went with the girls to the police to make a report. Nothing was done. The principal finally came back with a “solution”. Mediation! The perpetrator and his victims should sit down together and try to work together towards a solution.

We were gob-smacked. Mediation implies there are two sides to an issue. There WERE no two sides. The girls were innocent victims, whose school life had become a fearful hell of what might happen if this young man finally snapped.

Eventually, the perpetrator was removed from the school but our trust in the school system was broken. Any talk of respecting the safety and dignity of each student rang hollow. Words need to be backed with effective action, or they are worthless.

In his speech, Trump called Americans to unite. Unite with what? Hold hands with evil and join in a resounding chorus of Kumbaya? No. This is not a time for unity. It is a time to stand up, speak out, protest against, and do everything we can to ensure that NEVER AGAIN.

NEVER AGAIN, will good women and men sit back while madness and hatred is allowed to fester.

NEVER AGAIN, will a leader be allowed to shamelessly rally his minions to support a platform of “us and them”, a platform of supremacy for a few while millions of lives are deprived of basic rights and value.




3 thoughts on “I believe…sometimes there IS only one side

  1. It is possible the ideological extremists can evolve toward/to dialogue. However, by definition ideological extreme (extremists) are impervious to dialogue. They have shut-out compassion, shut out other.
    The British author Ian McEwan wrote an impressive op-ed after 9/11 in which he opined that if the terrorists could have seen into the hearts of the victims they could not have done the deed. In my opinion they had shut our, denied, obliterated empathy. These are the “mechanics”, the robots of hate.
    There is, for me, an even more perverse cadre – what I call the “gurus of hate”. They understand empathy, compassion and decency better than we do. They also know how to identify, recruit, train the “mechanics” of hate and to set them loose. They use our innate sense of compassion and assumption that “goodness will shine through”, our expectation of decency and morality, against us.
    The mechanics of hate are expendable. The victims of hate are simply fodder for terror. The guru just moves on. As you suggest, who is there in this scenario with whom to dialogue?
    To “dialogue” is to be vulnerable. It is to hold one’s truth with a passion and conviction that is open to grow, evolve or even diminish.

  2. There truly is a vulnerability to dialogue, Dennis. In the face of extreme hatred such as we’re seeing today, any attempt to speak out against the hate can put one at risk. History and, sadly, the present is filled with martyrs for truth. When legitimate criticism is responded to with aggressive attacks, whether verbal or physical, there is little hope for dialogue.

    Thank you, as always, for your thoughts and insight.

    1. Yet, we must take calculated risks. Many “rightists” have no real experience of the basis of, consequences and history of “alt-right”. The chance of their evolving can be affected by the expression of concern and openness to dialogue. Every young person should tour Auschwitz, Dachau.
      It is discouraging to see the images of Charlottesville and so many young faces. I am though empathetic of their frustration and generally confident of youth impact on society. The “world of old men for themselves” is not limited to the rightists.
      I also think that our Church has a responsibility to “teach humanity” as distinct from, as well as, its specific religion. That’s an awkward way of saying that the personal good we seek as humans is essentially and necessarily a “common” good and only found within community. Do we “form” a community of inclusive mutuality or, do we impose an order that is a regime.
      Our world needs a community and Jesus will come to it. Not the other way around.

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