Tragedy in Virginia

charlottesville

One woman was killed during a “Unite the Right” demonstration in Charlottesville, VA, on Saturday when a 20-year-old Ohio native named James Fields drove his car into a crowd of protesters. The victim, 32-year-old Heather Heyer, was crossing the street at the time. At least 35 other people were injured.

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Heather Heyer

Several hours later, two Virginia state troopers were killed when the helicopter they flew to the rally crashed into woods near Charlottesville. Earlier in the day, the Virginia’s governor had declared a state of emergency.

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Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates

Jason Kessler organized the Unite the Right rally. He says his group had networked with law enforcement officials months ago on a plan for maintaining safety. He claims the plan was not followed and says the police exacerbated the violence by failing to separate the two opposing groups. Kessler tried to give a press conference after the incident, but his words were drowned out and someone punched him in the face.

A woman who attended the rally told the New York Times that people were punching each other while officers stood off to the side.

Here is some background on the protests:

  • Fields may have been part of a white supremacist group, which are grouped together as “Alt-Right.” However there is no standard as to what that means. In Charlottesville, people on the Alt-Left had shown up to protest the protesters; they are also called Antifa–or anti-fascists.
  • Antifa is a radical collection of protestors who say they are resisting racism, sexism and classism. They advocate the use of violence and property damage as a means of resistance. Many times they are in “black bloc,” all-black clothing and masks. Such were the perpetrators in Berkeley, rioting the night a conservative gay man, Milos Yiannapoulos, was supposed to speak.
  • Fascism caused the downfall of Spain and Italy in the 1930s and paved the way for Nazi Germany. It is a form of radical authoritarianism, led by a dictatorial government who suppresses opposition and controls all industry and commerce. Venezuela and Turkey would be modern examples of countries that are falling into fascism. It is interesting to note that both of these fascist governments have labeled their detractors as “fascists.”

President Trump was widely criticized on Saturday for not specifically condemning white supremacist groups. He called the Charlottesville rally an “egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides.” A White House spokesman clarified on Sunday that the President condemns all extremist groups, including white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazis, and others.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced late Saturday that federal authorities would pursue a civil rights investigation into the matter.

Why this Matters: The mainstream media, Democrats, and establishment Republicans are lining up to blame these tragedies on our President. They suggest that because he hasn’t denounced white supremacists to their satisfaction, he has encouraged them. It’s just another line item on the “why Trump needs to go” list. But it is also a poor argument. One could assume that many of the white supremacists also “support” Starbucks coffee and drink it. Should Starbucks be removed?

As Americans, we must agree to tolerate our differences of opinion. We must also recognize that hate groups are made up of individuals. Our laws do not constrain ideas, but individuals. Others may influence us–but each one alone is responsible for his or her actions.

How to Pray: for the families of Heather Heyer and the families of state troopers Cullen and Bates. Ask God to speec the healing of the injured, and any hearts of hatred will be healed by Jesus. Pray for Christians to set the example of what it looks like to unite as one country, under one flag, one unchanging Constitution, and one Almighty God.

John 13:35 – By this all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.

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