No child in America was born with hate in their heart. We all come into this world pure and innocent. But over the course of time, some children grow up to become torch-wielding angry marchers like those in Charlottesville, Virginia. How does an innocent soul become a white supremacist, neo-Nazi, or a member of the KKK? What drives the pure heart of a child to become filled with hate for Jews, immigrants, homosexuals, other religions, and non-white races as an adult?
The answer is simple – they were taught to hate. Perhaps a family member told them to, “Keep to your own kind.” Or a friend complained about, “those people”. Or a website denied the Holocaust. Or someone on social media went on a rant about an immigrant wearing a headscarf. Over time, the heart that was born unblemished and full of love, evolved into a rage-filled pit of hate. And the tiny baby that wouldn’t hurt a soul is now a white supremacist, neo-Nazi, or Klan member.
Most parents would be appalled if their child aspired to become a white supremacist, neo-Nazi or Klan member. An NPR poll taken four days after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, found that only 2% of those polled mostly agree with the KKK, 4% with the white supremacy movement, 4% with white nationalists, and 6% with the alt-right. An overwhelming majority of American’s condemn these ideologies, but yet they persist. These movements survive because their ideals are passed down from one generation to the next. It’s no accident that most of the marchers in Charlottesville where young men. They represent the new recruits that are necessary to keep the movement alive.
But it’s not too late to extinguish these ideologies. If hatred is learned, it can be un-learned. And the way to accomplish this is through love and understanding. We must condemn the hatred in the hearts of these people and at the same time we must show them that love is the way forward. The heart has no room for hate and neither does America. Our country was founded on the principle that, “All men are created equal.” We are a nation of immigrants and of inclusion. We help our neighbors when they are sick. We feed the poor. We defend the weak. We stand up to bullies and oppressors. And we believe we are stronger as a nation when we stand together. Now is the time for all Americans to stand together and reject hate. This is one area where conservatives and progressives can agree. Let’s come together to condemn racism, anti-Semitism, and hatred for immigrants, homosexuals, other religions, and cultures. Let’s teach our children, family, and friends to love all people, including those that look and act different than ourselves. We are better together as one nation united against hate.
Let’s never forget the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Hate is not an American value.