You have to say “no” to a movement that associates evil with good things. Nationalism is not patriotism. “Blood and soil” nationalism has a particularly evil history and in the lifetime of my father, destroyed millions of human beings.
Many Americans (most of them Christians) chose to enslave Africans and kept them in bondage for centuries. When a majority of Americans (most of them Christians), fought a bloody Civil War and ended slavery, our nation did not complete the work and fully emancipate the newly freed people. No justification, no personal piety, can remove the stain of race-based slavery from the Confederate States of America. Americans allowed government sanctioned segregation, discrimination, and the stripping of voting rights that continued into my lifetime.
The Civil Rights movement helped end official government sanctioned segregation and restored voting rights to many Americans. The work, however, remains incomplete. Americans may disagree about how to solve this problem, but nobody can deny that racism is still an evil that infects the nation.
We must tell the truth and face the problem and not allow extremists to divide people of good will when we disagree about the best solutions. We cannot excuse hatefulness and hurtfulness in the name of “irony: as some have done on the alt-Right. Christians reject any idea that we can advance our cause by any means necessary: we are the church of martyrs who died for principle and not of Quislings who sucked up to power. We cannot be content to play about with European hate groups with a long track record of racism and anti-Semite direct action.
Saying “no” in Charlottesville today does not prevent us from saying “no” in Pyongyang tomorrow.
We can oppose more than one bad idea at a time
Shouting “What about . . . ” and inserting some opposite evil does nothing to cure the original problem. One cannot solve one vice by rushing to the opposite extreme: the cure for the evils of the Red Shirts is never the equal evil of the Brown Shirts. To both groups, the Church of the Martyrs stands in the pure robes of the Lamb and says: “How long, O Lord, how long?” not “Which team is best for my present ministry?”
We cannot constantly react to every bad piece of news or we would be consumed. Yet in a nation where friends fear the police with good reason, where former colleagues suffer verbal and professional costs today because of their race, when by every metric the lives of African-Americans in America, despite great progress, hard earned by African-Americans themselves, have been made worse by continued, pervasive, and institutional racism, clarity counts.
“No” to racism, the alt-Right, and to blood and soil nationalism in Charlottesville. If we do not say this clearly, then this precious experiment in republican rule, so imperfect, yet even then, rare in her virtues, will soon perish from the earth.