I am an hour away from the horrible events that took place in Charlottesville. I am saddened by the hate-filled, racist, and bigoted protests that resorted to violence and caused the loss of life. These events do not represent the America I believe in. They are not patriotic. They have no place in our society today. Our country is built on many freedoms, freedoms created by our forefathers and protected by the lives of many. These freedoms do not allow for the expression of one voice or the right to assembly to impede on the freedoms of others. In no expression of freedom is it acceptable to resort to violence. In no expression of freedom is it permissible to be intimidating, threatening, or menacing. We are a nation built on understanding, conversation, and discourse, not one built on anger, hate, and malice. The extreme views expressed in protest do not embody a single thread of our American values.
As a Christian, an elected official, and an American, I feel that I have a duty and responsibility to condemn racism and any voice claiming superiority over others. We are a nation that has, at times, failed to live up to our values of inclusion, equity, and love. The disgraceful actions, threatening behavior, and extremist language of the Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, and Fascists, move us in the wrong direction, and do not represent the America I know, love and believe in.
As a proud Virginian, born and raised in the Commonwealth, just a short distance from Charlottesville, I know we can heal from the events of this painful weekend. We are not alone, as similar protests are breaking out across the country. Nor is this voice new. What we are seeing is the revelation that there is still pain, hurt, and anger across the country that is racially focused. While the anger focused on debates about removing a statue, we cannot be so naïve to believe this problem can be solved simply through policies about controversial monuments. We do not erase the history or quiet the voice that protested on Saturday simply by tearing down a monument. The voice and actions revealed Saturday show there is hate and anger that has been transfixed on race. This voice reveals we have a lot of work to do as a nation to heal.
Before us is a path to reconciliation. This path is one of healing. One of love. One that is painful. One that will require us to search our hearts, minds, and prejudices. One that will take time. But one worth every moment to reach understanding. The first step down this path begins today.
Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can. It is easy to hate something, but it takes courage, wisdom, and understanding to love something. We must show our love for each other, for our city, for our country. We must be honest about the mistakes and scars of our past in order to build a beautiful and bright future. That is why we need a peaceful rally in September to show our unity in building a tomorrow that fully embodies the vision set forth in our Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. A tomorrow that is built on equity, inclusion, and love so bright that the shadow of hate and anger has nowhere to hide.