Look in the dark center of the picture above. There, in the shadows, huddles bravery. A small band of UVA students stand at the feet of Thomas Jefferson while a torch wielding mob of Nazis advances upon them.
The University has seen some courageous individuals in its time but few have ever risen to that level.
If you, like me, have watched the events unfolding in Charlottesville with a sense of powerlessness and dread, look to those students. If you’ve wondered if this is what it felt like to read the news in 1930s Germany, take heart in them, crouched in the darkness as the flames of hate lick about them. We are not alone. Not by a long-shot.
Those counter-protesters look outnumbered here, but only because the torch-wielding mob of Nazis spent months planning and coordinating for this weekend. The counter-protesters just showed up; they were the voices of reason, tolerance, and decency who just happened to be local and on hand. The voices of reason and tolerance, decency and progress far outnumber those of hate. And yet there are far too few of them.
Because when the Nazis come to town their goal is to keep decent people at home. They use terror and intimidation to silence dissent. If we obey them — if we allow their torches and batons and chants of “blood and soil” to keep us off the streets and to silence our own voices then we are, in a real sense, supporting them in our silence.
So be not silent. March, write, call, organize, vote… resist.
Tell Congress (and the world) what you think
If you can’t march yourself, if physically standing up to hate and bigotry is impossible for you, let your government know what you think. Text resist to 50409 to contact your Senators and Representatives. Elite members of the resistance can also contact their state governors, who often have broad discretionary powers when the Nazis come to town.
But if you can get out there physically, check out Vox’s guide for finding a local “solidarity with Charlottesville” rally.