The events and the reactions to the events concerning last week in Charlottesville are disturbing on many different levels.
First and personally, I had a chance to live in Charlottesville in 1989-1990. As a student at the University of Virginia, Mr. Jefferson's university, I went to classes, I rented an apartment in the city, I worked in the local Safeway, and I got to know many of the people in the surrounding areas. The Charlottesville we saw last week on television was not the Charlottesville I came to know and love. I do not believe for a second believe that what we saw and what we have heard represents the residents of Charlottesville.
Second, we have to ask the question about what really happened. Was this about taking down the statue? Was it really about something else?
On one hand, we have to ask the question about why we are celebrating the people who sponsored the Confederacy and the Civil War - they are also the people who supported slavery. When we erect statues to the leaders of the Confederacy,, what are we really celebrating? Are we celebrating the aristocratic traditions of the South? Are we celebrating their independent or rebellious natures that fought against the federal government? Are we celebrating their allegiance to a system of slavery and econmic class warfare?
I do not believe that taking down the statue, while-a justifiable act in and by itself, will solve the problem that gave rise to the events in Charlottesville. The dilemma is that we have far too many people in this country who seek to rank their lives against the value of other's lives. The entire challenge of the Confederacy was that it put more value on white supremacy than any other person of any descent. All lives matter- all lives, and not some more than others.
Until we solve the educational, economic and cultural conditions which create rank and explicit value propositions over personhood and individuality, then we will never solve the problem revealed in Charlottesville. And meanwhile, we must condemn the hatred and bigotry that gives rise to these kinds of hate mongering.
Finally and perhaps most disturbingly, we have a political administration in this country based upon that very notion that one's rank in life is more important than the diversity of other lives. Currently we live in a society that gives far too much value to the aristocracy of wealth and the oligarchy of power. Far too many of our leaders are ethically bankrupt. They have lost both a moral compass and an ethical direction.
Last week's events in Charlottesville peeled back many layers of hypocrisy revealing a history and tradition of hatred and prejudice which we must resolve to overcome. The actions of the Neo-Nazis and white supremacists have no place in our society, none whatsoever, and the responses of our leadership need to clearly indicate this.