Monuments to Confederate soldiers loom in public spaces not only as a reminder of slavery, the ugliest piece of American history, but of persistent racism within American institutions and ideologies. Many see these monuments as glorification of slavery. Others believe these monuments should be preserved, either as symbols of “heritage” or harrowing yet necessary reminders of our grisly past.
Since the 2015 Charleston church shooting, in which a 21-year-old man killed nine people in an attempt to incite a “race war,” as he told investigators, calls for removing Confederate flags and monuments have gained traction. It was the proposed removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that sparked the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia a few weeks ago. Since then, we’ve seen more Confederate flags and monuments come down – either peacefully, as in Charleston, or forcefully, as in Durham.
Incidents like these convince some people to dismiss both sides as violent extremists.
But there is no moral equivalency between a group that espouses the beliefs of those who committed the most industrialized genocide in history and a group that seeks to dismantle such hatred.
And yet these random outbursts of violence blur the lines of moral equivalency.
Extremists on the left and right are not substantially different in tactic. Both ends consider their policies so vital that they justify any means, such as stripping freedoms and asserting dictatorships. The extremes of the spectrum believe that their ideals are substantially different, but their shared justification of violence and authoritarianism connects the ends of the political spectrum.
The response from individuals protesting bigotry and racism should not be more hatred and violence. Such a response emboldens these hate groups, prompting them to continue marching and spewing vicious rhetoric.
If a Confederate statue needs to be removed, public referenda and peaceful protests are the answer. Resistance must be active, though always nonviolent.
Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.