On Saturday, Aug. 12, a “Unite the Right” rally was scheduled to take place in Charlottesville, Virginia, against the removal of a General Robert E. Lee statue.
On Friday, white nationalists and other alt-right members gathered at the University of Virginia carrying torches and yelling slogans, such as “white lives matter.” This spurred on a violent encounter between alt-right members and counter-protesters Saturday morning. The Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency shortly before noon. Police reported injuries and the city declared an unlawful assembly at Emancipation Park.
At noon on Aug. 12, a car driven by James Alex Fields Jr. rammed into a group of counter-protestors which resulted in the killing of one woman and injuring 19 others.
President Trump responded to the situation first on twitter by condemning the alt-right (though not by name). During a press conference Tuesday he went on to condemn both sides, claiming that there were “bad people” among both groups.
The Spectator feels that these incidents reflect poorly on our nation and our community. President Trump’s words are inexcusable. Though it is true that the first amendment protected the “Unite the Right” rally, hate speech and ignorance are unwelcome in our country.
As journalists we understand the importance of the first amendment. Free speech is part of what makes the United States the great country that it is, but it’s meant to inspire progress and debate, not street brawls. Protests are the offspring of passion and freedom, not hatred.
If you would like to exercise your first amendment right through debate and progress, now is the time. The Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion will be hosting Courageous Conversation on Violence, Hate and Civility today at 6 p.m. in the Student Union Theater. This event will allow students to speak about the recent incidents in Virginia and how our campus community can demonstrate respect for every human being.
This editorial was written by a member of the editorial staff and expresses the general opinion of The Spectator.