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Broadcaster Quits over Ethics Concern

Reflections on Charlottesville

By John Morton

Because the violence in Charlottesville has been covered by the news media and on social media so much more than other issues, I have been reluctant to comment.  However, the issue has iron legs, and the rhetoric keeps getting more irrational.  The violence in C-ville divides the nation and is shaping political debate in dangerous ways.  In the hope of turning down the rhetoric, I offer a few observations.

  1. The incident was precipitated by the decision of city council to remove the statue of Robert E. Lee from a city park. Tearing down statues is a dangerous idea.  Statues spark historical curiosity.  Knowledge of a nation’s history is important to a nation’s culture.  Also, individuals should be judged in the context of their time.  Nathan_Bedford_Forrest_StatueThere are exceptions; I wouldn’t mind tearing down a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest [right] or Ernesto “Che” Guevara.  But where does the statue removal stop?  Nancy Pelosi now wants to remove the ten Confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol.  Clearly, this isn’t an ethical decision for her; after all, she’s been in Congress for 30 years, some of them as Speaker of the House.  This is grandstanding, pure and simple.
  1. The white nationalists are the scum of the earth, but they have the right to express their opinions no matter how odious they are.
  1. The right to speak does not extend to violence, and there was violence on both sides. When people show up with masks, homemade flame throwers, and helmets, you know it’s not going to end well.  Antifa, which had participated in violent protests previously, claims to be against discrimination and authoritarianism.  Who gave them the authority to censor speech, reject the First Amendment, and punch people?
  1. Where were the police? According to reports, there were about 100-200 white nationalists.  Why didn’t the police separate them from Antifa?  Instead, they retreated, while the head of the state police observed the situation from the sixth floor of a nearby building.  Was it in someone’s self-interest to create a riot?
  1. President Trump’s response to the situation was embarrassing. A President should bring people together, not tear them apart.  Trump has no ability to calm people, choose the right words, or make moral distinctions.  His bombastic style works well on the campaign trail but hurts him in calming and uniting the nation.
  1. We must move on. America needs more unity.  We need creative ideas to increase economic growth, reduce unemployment, and protect our people.  We need to discuss controversial issues without being obnoxious.  Nothing is gained by destroying the political process.

[Photo: Statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest, Confederate general, former slave trader, accused of war crimes, and early supporter of KKK. -- JW]


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