What happened this past week in Charlottesville, Virginia, could have happened anywhere in the U.S. The rallying point was a decision of the local government to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, general of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia during the U.S. Civil War.
The agitators in the conflict were white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
My definition of white supremacist is anyone who is intolerant of non-whites. When a white supremacist sees any person of color, they associate their mere existence as the raison d’être for everything that is wrong in their life or the life of some white person they know. They claim to be victims of non-whites.
They believe that merely being white entitles them receive all that is good and nothing that is bad. They hate affirmative action, they detest non-whites, they detest any government action that requires non-whites to be given consideration for anything that a white person can do, etc.
In short, they detest a core value of the United States articulated in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: the equal protection clause. The clause, which took effect in 1868, provides that no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
In Germany this past week, a tourist was arrested for giving a Nazi salute. In the U.S., our First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech. As abhorrent as a Nazi salute is, the right of an individual to do this in the U.S. is protected.
White supremacy is about hate for non-whites. Nazism is based on extreme racism and authoritarian views. These are anti-American stances. These mindsets are antithetical to American values.
The world has moved on and, for the most part, accepts and embraces diversity. We aren’t going back to the practices of the 1860s.
Thought for the week:
“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.” – William James
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Dave Gardner is a management consultant, speaker, blogger and author based in Silicon Valley. He's been in the front row for the birth and evolution of Silicon Valley, the innovation capital of the world. Since 1992, Dave Gardner has focused on making the complex simple around people, process and technology. He can be reached through his website, www.DaveGardner.biz, or via phone at +1 408-475-7068.