Let's Listen: White Supremacy

How we deal with opposing views impacts our effectiveness in solving the issue

El Estoque Staff

W e could never have imagined white supremacy and neo-Nazi protests headlining the news in 2017. Fascism seems outdated to us — a thing of the past. That’s why it surprised us when Confederate and Nazi flags marched down the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia this August. The fusion of a tense political climate and the recent revival of the white nationalist movement created the perfect circumstances for white supremacists to publicly rally on American streets.

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We met the rally with disbelief and shock as news of a car plowing into a crowd and protesters beating up civilians came in. Over the next couple of hours, days and weeks, the country retaliated. Numerous world leaders and news outlets spoke out against the protest (including our president, albeit days later). After we took some time to process, many people were sending hate back towards the same white supremacists that hated on them; they questioned the legality of the protests and buried the other sides’ opinions under their own. Could it be that in the process of responding to the news, we forgot to address the root issue and what caused this protest in the first place?

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Our country is founded on the basis that every individual has a right to express their opinions as loud and clear as they want to. There isn’t an exception for nonviolent hate speech under the First Amendment. Legally, all those who consider themselves liberals, conservatives, supremacists and anything in between are allowed to protest for their ideologies. People who are against radical Islam and people who are for socialism are seen as equal in the eyes of the law. It is hard to accept, but until they violently act, they legally aren’t doing anything wrong.

The Charlottesville protest itself was not the reason why so many people were enraged. We just disagreed with their ideologies. We didn’t get mad that they were protesting, but rather because these ideologies still exist in today’s society. The popularity of white supremacy worries us because it signals the presence of hate and discrimination in our country. It’s important to note, however, that just as much as you have a right to your opinion, so do they.

The meaning of free speech is not stamping out the words of others. Instead, it is to let them speak, with words that could change us as a society. We don’t have to respect their opinions, we just have to respect their right to express them. We, as humans, have the right to say what we want in the U.S. If we give ourselves the right to censor and silence others, what’s stopping supremacists from giving themselves the same power?

This unwillingness to see the other side as merely a similar yet warped expression of our own ideas is one of the main causes behind the polarization of our country. Shunning these racists and responding with the same type of hate makes us hypocrites. The difference is in our ideologies, but not in our methods. Besides that, what makes us any different from them?


We hold others to a double standard because it is somehow considered acceptable to our peers and community that believe in the same ideas alongside us. If we want to change something about hate speech and begin to unify our country, we must change the actions that accompany it. These racists, these so-called “patriots,” these supremacists still have an opinion and they still have a vote, no matter how offending, hateful or brutal their ideas are.

So we need to do more than just get angry. That doesn’t mean that we should just give up. In fact, it means the opposite. We need to debate and address the root of the problem, no matter how long it takes for us to reach that point.

It does mean, however, that we have to be careful of the way we argue. We cannot fight fire with fire because that only burns down both sides of the house. Stop and listen to what the other side is saying.

It doesn’t help to say that these people shouldn’t be allowed to protest — everyone has a right to petition. It doesn’t help to invalidate them for standing up for their opinion — that’s what our Constitution tells us to do. It does help to walk the talk the Constitution laid out for us. We have to solve the problem at the root of the issue, which is the lack of experience racists have with whom they’re hating on. Only then can we move the fight of abolishing hate and discrimination in our country and in the world forward. So as difficult as it sounds, the enemy are our equals. And that’s what we have to accept in order to prove them wrong.