“This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.”
— Leonard Bernstein
As I watched my hometown get invaded by those sick, sick assholes, I was heartbroken. I still am. But I have several reasons to hope, and that’s the only way I can keep moving and not huddle under my blankets sobbing (anymore).
1) The reason violence errupted this weekend was that counterprotesters showed up. They showed up and said, “No, you don’t get to do this.” Would it have been better if violence hadn’t won the day? Yes. But was it important to stand up and say that that kind of hatred won’t be tolerated, and let minorities know that we have their backs and value them them as assets to our community; to let them know they’re not alone – that “they” are really “us.”
2) My friends are arguing about whether it would have been better to show up or to stay away completely so that the white supremacists didn’t get the attention they so desperately want. Let them shout into a void. They stayed away, thinking that if you don’t give them someone to scream at, eventually they’ll just disappear. Some showed up and marched peacefully and silently. Some thought showing up wasn’t enough and decided to fight violence with more violence. I’m torn about what the appropriate response is. I’m not sure there even is an appropriate response. But whatever their opinion on the best way to make the white supremacists go away, they still want to make them go away. That means there are a lot more of us on the side of love than hate.
2) At Jason Kessler’s press conference the next day, counterprotesters showed up and shouted him down and said, “No, you don’t get to do this.” Again, I’m not thrilled that someone ended up punching him, because that makes him look like a victim and I’m not okay with violence, but the people who showed up with pots and pans and cymbals to bang on to drown him out are heroes. They are beautiful, beautiful people standing up for our beautiful, beautiful city and country.
3) On Twitter, people have “outted” many of the white supremacists who attended, and at least one has been fired by a boss who said, “No, you don’t get to do this.” We should be sending equally clear messages to racist and hateful business owners by boycotting their businesses. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to do since, again, I think there are more peaceful, accepting business owners than white supremacists.
4) I attended a vigil in Durham in support of Charlottesville yesterday, and when protesters showed up and started trying to shout over our speakers, we sang them down. We drowned them out with song.
People are speaking up. Yes, more need to, but it’s a start and this weekend was a wake-up call for a hell of a lot of people. However we choose to stand on the side of love, we need to stick together and remember that we are all, still, on the same side.
We need to keep singing. Sing until the hatemongers get the point that their hate isn’t welcome. Sing until our allies know they’re safe and loved. Sing to comfort those trying to heal from this weekend and the hundreds of years of strife in America that came before it. Sing a little extra love and joy into the world.