A little more than two weeks ago, hordes of people descended upon Charlottesville, Virginia, in preparation for the ‘Unite the Right’ rally that took place on Aug. 12. The catalyst of the rally, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, was the planned removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park, which was recently renamed from Lee Park.
What ensued was repugnant. On the eve of the rally, white nationalist groups marched on the campus of the University of Virginia carrying torches, and chanting phrases like “white lives matter,” “you will not replace us” and “blood and soil,” the latter of which is attributed to Nazis. Charlottesville Mayor Mike Singer called the showing, “a cowardly parade of hatred, bigotry, racism and intolerance,” according to The New York Post.
Unfortunately, the following day was even worse. White supremacists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members made their presence felt, shouting racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic slurs at counter protesters. As tensions ran high, the powder keg eventually burst for some as one white nationalist was seen discharging a firearm toward a crowd of counter-protesters, while other armed protesters and counter protesters engaged in various other skirmishes. But of all the violence on display that day, the rest was eclipsed when James Alex Fields Jr. rammed his car into a group of anti-racist protesters — killing one person, and injuring 19. Fields was seen at an alt-right protest earlier on that day.
We, at The Slate, hold freedom of speech in high regard and wish for all to express themselves in a respectful manner, but the hateful speech and actions of the white supremacists at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville are indefensible. The violence this rhetoric sparked resulted in the death of an innocent person. The ideas they promote cannot be allowed to gain a foothold in our society.
As we head forward into a new school year, we’d like to ask everyone to be respectful of one another, stay united together, and remain vigilant so as not to allow these kinds of things to happen at Shippensburg University. The Slate is committed to maintaining a safe environment where we can all express ourselves, celebrate our differences and learn. We may represent different religious backgrounds or racial and sexual identities, but we are all Raiders. Please keep hate off our campus.