Enlightening Confederate Rally

Arkansas Democrat Gazette: http://m.nwaonline.com/news/2017/aug/25/letters-to-the-editor-20170825/

Violence, from whatever sides, won’t help world

After speaking with leaders of the Hot Springs Confederate Rally and Antifa counter-rally, I saw humanity.

I told Antifa that I agree with their thinking about oppression, but question violent tactics, like “punching Nazis.” Many expressed support for punching, and one explained that anyone supporting white supremacy can be legitimately attacked. I see their logic, yet lines can be blurred and targets expanded beyond Nazis.

I explained that violence is what racist leaders explicitly desire, and attacking them makes them look like victims, excellent recruitment propaganda. One Antifa member then aggressively told me to leave, so I did.

Although I disagree with Antifa tactics, I agree poor people everywhere are oppressed by economic injustice. I understand frustration and impatience. People are getting killed by police unjustly. People are tortured in prisons far too long. Children do serve prison sentences, along with their parents.

Dr. King said “a riot is the language of the unheard.” If people continue going unheard, more violence is guaranteed. I heard them. They are sick of injustice. Me, too.

I then proceeded to the Confederates. I was nervous after Charlottesville, anticipating white supremacists that would despise my anti-violence signs. I was surprised when the primary organizer immediately showed support for my sign, “Jesus Said No Violence.” I said I am sick of violence, and do not want civil war. They agreed. Surely, there were some that were ignorantly racist, but I saw some humanity.

Just as most Antifa have hearts in the right place, some rebel flag wavers and Trump supporters are not hardcore racists. We should not give up hope on anyone. A Netlflix documentary, “Accidental Courtesy,” shows how a black musician helped convert over 200 Klansmen.

We must confront racism. And yes, prominent civil war statues are symbols of slavery war, and belong in museums with full context. Personally, I would move every pro-war monument to a museum. War culture retards prospects for peace.

We must evolve into a peaceful species, that resolves conflict without fists, guns and bombs, or we will self-destruct. Violence may have made sense in the past, but no longer. Inspiringly, the people have grown increasingly disgusted with all manners of violence.

I condemn all aggressive violence, on all sides as Trump said, but also toward the most violent American, Trump himself. He incited much of the racist violence, and consequent violent backlash. Most dangerously, Trump threatened nuclear war, an aggression against everyone. Yet, racist violence is bigger than Trump. Politicians from both parties support racist wars for empire.

I believe justice and peace are Siamese twins. You cannot establish peace without justice and you cannot establish justice without peace. Dr. King said, the ends and means must cohere.

White supremacists are far more violently dangerous, and Antifa is operating from a far more moral cause, but we must keep both eyes open, and urge nonviolent conflict resolution in everything. We need communication, dialogue, diplomacy and debate, instead of brutal force, if we wish to evolve.

Abel Tomlinson

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