Maya Angelou once said that “when someone shows you who they really are, believe them the first time.”
Someone may seem like a wonderful person, but could mistreat and look down on waitstaff in a restaurant setting, proving that they’re not as great as they appear.
Likewise, if someone shows up to a white nationalist rally and chants “blood and soil,” they’re probably a neo-Nazi, no matter what they might say.
The topic of neo-Nazis and white nationalism was violently thrust into the national spotlight recently with the harrowing events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia.
On August 12, droves of white nationalists flocked to Charlottesville to take part in a “Unite the Right” rally meant to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
In opposition to this event, a fair number of counter protesters came together, unsurprisingly creating chaos and, according to The New York Times, left three dead and 34 injured.
Now, over a week after the events of the white nationalist rally, the nation is left reeling.
The alt-right problem that had previously been ignored and ridiculed by the general public has now become a serious threat.
White nationalists are becoming emboldened, especially with President Donald Trump’s statement that the violence at Charlottesville was caused by “both sides.”
A prime example of this is David Duke, the former “Grand Wizard” of the Ku Klux Klan, who praised Trump for his honesty in a tweet on Aug. 15.
To put this further into context, Duke is a man who regularly tweets about supposed “Jewish privilege,” much in the same vein as Nazi rhetoric.
Additionally, NBC News obtained statements from white nationalist William Johnson who on record has said that “[we] have a festering racial problem that’s only going to get worse.”
Rallies such as the one in Charlottesville have been planned in locations all across the country such as Hot Springs, Arkansas, Austin, Texas, and several others.
Many of these rallies are centered around Confederate iconography, which include mainly statues and monuments.
These monuments are representations of racism and bigotry, of a time when only the white man held power and minorities were “in their place.”
Some may argue that these monuments exist to keep the world from forgetting history and to preserve the memories of a culture.
However, Ilya Somin, professor of law at George Mason University, said in an interview with NPR that there is “a big difference between remembering history and honoring people who fought in defense of slavery.”
So of course white nationalists would rush to defend them because the removal of these monuments represents the rejection of some of their strongest beliefs. They’re reminded that their beliefs aren’t accepted.
Ironically, their strong defense and public outcry against the removal of these monuments has actually led to a hastening of their removal.
According to The New York Times, monuments have been coming down left and right across the United States. This includes locations such as New Orleans, Baltimore, Brooklyn and Durham, North Carolina.
But I digress, the removal of confederate iconography throughout the United States is not the focus of this article.
Instead, the focus of this article is to denounce the rising tide of neo-Nazism and white nationalism.
It’s to send a message to my fellow students at Appalachian State University.
It’s to say that there is a time for understanding, for being able to see the opposing point of view and agreeing to an impasse, to “agree to disagree.”
But now is not that time.
There is a difference between respecting the opinion of someone who is advocating for a different political view and respecting the opinion of someone who actively seeks the death or displacement of an entire group of people.
Do not sit idly by as they attempt to normalize their ideology. Do not let them lie to you that what they’re saying has any place in society.
I’d call them children but even children know that this sort of thinking is wrong. These are adults with entitlement issues, and should be treated as such.
Every time they espouse their sick beliefs, it is our duty and our responsibility to shut them down with extreme prejudice.
Let them know in no uncertain terms that so long as they hold these beliefs, as long as they identify with nazi ideology, they will be rejected.
It’s up to us excise this tumor, so let us do so before our nation becomes terminal.
Q Russell is a junior journalism major from Charlotte, NC. Follow him on Twitter at @Q_M_Russell