Silence is not golden

In the wake of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, people from both sides of the political aisle began to denounce the hate they saw drive into the University of Virginia campus. However, for many conservatives, this meant distancing themselves from the “alt-right” and President Trump’s response of blaming “both sides,” rather than outwardly condemning Nazis and tiki-torch-carrying white supremacists, whose statements and tweets seemed to affirm white supremacy is just a valid difference of opinion in our country.

Arguing that the alt-right is not the right is semantics; it does nothing to condemn the actions of the Nazis and white supremacists that marched in Charlottesville and normalizes the idea that white supremacy is acceptable. Distancing yourself and your party from a movement is only effective in combination with actions, not just words, against the movement.

Staying silent only emboldens hateful actions. Charlottesville is not an anomaly; there have been countless gatherings of white supremacists and hateful actions throughout this country for a long time.

However, Charlottesville is different because it gives us an opportunity to condemn hatred and force change. When videos of Nazis in Charlottesville yelling “Jews will not replace us” surfaced, I felt there would be little connection to my life as a Jewish person in Chicago. However, in the past few weeks, garages and streets in my neighborhood have been tagged with Nazi propaganda, such as “make Weimar great again” along with a multitude of swastikas. While the neighborhood has responded with an anti-hate rally, my temple has still been forced to bulk up on security and families across the congregation have expressed their worries about safety.

The distinction between alt-right and conservative does little to help people feel safe. Make Nazis and white supremacists afraid again, regardless of your political label. The best way to confront white supremacy is to stand vehemently opposed to the movement instead of being silent. White supremacy should not be an acceptable political stance. It is simply a matter of hate.