The recent actions in Charlottesville and the subsequent comments by our President have created so much backlash that it is difficult to say anything more without it being repetitive. One thing in particular I didn't hear - of course, I may have missed it - is that if the rally had not been so highly publicized in advance, there would not have been anyone there to protest against the hateful groups. Of course, the KKK, the neo-Nazis, and the White Supremacists wanted the publicity. That way, their numbers might increase each time they congregate. With their current seeming acceptance, if not encouragement, by the President they continue to get bolder and more military-like in their appearances. I also think the huge media coverage of their events encourages them as well.
I was reminded of an incident in Denton, Texas in the summer of 1993 or 1994. My best friend Carol and I met at my Barn, along with her gentleman friend at the time. We had heard there was to be a Ku Klux Klan rally in the Civic Center Park (later named Quakertown Park) that afternoon. We made our "peace" and "love" signs, stapled them to wooden posts, and set off to show the Klan that love could overcome their hate-filled rhetoric. I ran across an article presented for a Master of Science Thesis by a University of North Texas student, Gary Ray Webb in August 1994. In part, he wrote about the Klan rally:
"Female keynoting significantly differed (from the males). As the rally began, a group of 4 protestors, 3 of them female, arrived with signs in hand. Two of the females, dressed in clothing reminiscent of the 1960's, stood near the center of the crowd, singing peace songs. At one point during the rally, 6 of the 8 people bearing anti-KKK signs were female."
Quakertown Park by Glenn McLain
It was a large crowd, considering one they held earlier in Grapevine was cut short due to lack of interest. There were enough angry, aggressive anti-Klan people attending that if it were held today, there would probably have been some sort of violence. The speakers were often completely drowned out by not only shouts from some in the audience, but my friends and I got others to join in singing loudly with us, "Let There Be Peace On Earth" and "Love is the Only Power". I don't think all of the speakers had their chance to be heard before they gathered themselves together, looked at us with disgust, and with their police escort exited the area. Police had the foresight to have them park very close to the rally space, so they didn't have to walk the gauntlet except for a short distance. The only violent acts we witnessed were one young black man hit one of the Klan members in the face before he was stopped by police, and another one spit a huge amount of something red on a Klansman's white shirt. We continued singing as they drove off.
Some churches in the area chose to hold a type of peaceful prayer service rather than attend the rally. Their thinking was that it was better to ignore them. I fear that that way of dealing with the Klan and other hate groups has been instrumental in the growth of such groups in recent years. A good article regarding "Silence=Complicity" was written by Kevin Curry, a blogger at The Admitted Liberal . I urge you to hear his voice on the subject. I'm not advocating violent resistance at all, but there must be a way to show their rallies are not welcome other than resorting to violence. I like to think that a loving presence such as the one shown by many of us, kept the aggressiveness at bay.
The Klan members who spoke that day had done their best to appear like ordinary, upstanding citizens. The men were dressed in business suits, and the women in dresses. They were not accompanied by anyone carrying signs or flags.. or dressed in any kind of uniform. There were young, clean-cut men handing out brochures of some kind to those who would take them. Looking back, this seems scarier than the marchers we saw at Charlottesville.. armed and carrying Nazi and Confederate flags. At least one was able to tell who the "bad guys" were.
There was an element of religious leaders present in Charlottesville holding the peace -- and probably praying during the rally. And last night, thousands of people gathered to hold a peaceful candlelight vigil, marching along the same route as the white nationalists, carrying torches, had used days before. They were "showing up" against racism, bigotry, and hatred. Sooner or later, this kind of resistance will surely make a big difference. And we will triumph over evil.
("Blessed are the peacemakers.." Matthew 5:9 KJV)
Let peace begin with me... and you... and you... and you!