Joel Pollak from Breitbart was on the radio this week morning defending free speech in relation to the troubles in Charlottesville at the weekend, see – http://www.bbc.co.uk/progra… . Meanwhile I was shouting at the radio that freedom of speech is one thing but the murder of Heather Heyer cannot be defended on the grounds of free speech. Even the once great BBC cannot seem to challenge this simple distinction so it is up to us to speak the truth.
The neo Nazis attempts to deflect blame to the anti fascist protestors while maintaining their aggression, racism and hatred are particularly galling, especially when they claim that the driver of the car was scared of the counter protestors. As someone who has been the target of hate by the far right and who has stood peacefully in prayer against fascists campaigning against local Muslims, I find it difficult to accept that the neo Nazi who drove that car was scared of the counter protestors.
And yes, there have been some incidents of aggression from left too, including the murder of police officers which I also condemn. However, there is a gulf of difference between the neo-Nazi white supremacists whose history is one of oppression and violence towards other races and their opponents who call for equality for all. I cannot begin to imagine how it feels to have a history such as the black people of the US have but I can understand that this history is painful and cannot be repeated.
But what of the rationale for the counter protest? Should we stand against those who preach hate and violence? As Edmund Burke said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
As a Druid, I stand for peace. That means that sometimes I must physically put myself in the way of violence, both physical and verbal. That is not a comfortable place to stand, but as John Halstead quoted: “religion needs to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable”.
Religious praxis should involve social and political action. We should put into practice our beliefs and values, which is why I condemn the violence at Charlottesville but also thank those who stood against the white supremacist neo Nazis. The Antifa do a great service to humanity.
Putting our beliefs into practice is not about prayer, ritual or offerings to the gods. It is living our lives in accordance with those beliefs, non-violently standing up against others who attempt to harm others or the living world and it is speaking out positively to encourage others to live as one with the Earth.