Caught off guard
I remember it like it was yesterday.
I was in the third grade and it was library day.
This may be hard for some of you to wrap your mind around, but the library, for most kids, was a place of wonderment and excitement.
The library was the modern equivalent to the smartphone, laptop, desktop, Ipad, Ipod, Xbox, Playstation et al.
Other than PE, it was where you wanted to be.
I had just become interested in baseball and would peruse all of the baseball books available. For some reason, everything was big in the 70’s. The cars were big, hair, the first microwave ovens, even the first computers.
The same was true for books.
My boyhood hero’s were larger than life. Through these colossal books, with their colossal photographs, my boyhood idols would come to life. The Bronx Bombers, with photos of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio etc.
And like every other red blooded american boy, I was also fascinated with race cars and the mythical drivers who operated these ultimate boyhood machines.
I just couldn’t get enough of the library. The hour or so that we were allowed to spend inside always ended too soon.
One day, after I had gone through the same baseball book for the 400th time, I decided to explore the history section of the modest elementary school library.
The first book that caught my eye was one on World War II.
As I slowly glided through the pages I was immediately thunderstruck by what I saw next.
Piles of dead, nude, emaciated bodies stacked 10 to 20 high in front of a bulldozer. As I turned the page, I would learn where those bodies would end up.
In a massive pit, alongside other similar looking corpses.
By the thousands.
I was 11 years old and had just experienced what real evil and hatred could come over man in his desire for power.
To say I was caught off guard would be a gross understatement.
This was the day my innocence was lost.
Virginia’s most livable city
As someone who has lived in Virginia for most of my life, I tend to think I have a good grasp on the many areas and regions that make up our beautiful state.
You have the Virginia Beach and Tidewater area, where the locals cling to and cherish the many memories of summers gone bye and the blue crabs caught and eaten as a beloved memory to many.
Richmond, our capital, which used to best known for as the murder capital of the south. A lot of people don’t know this but most of these murders were confined to a ten block radius inside the city.
Northern Virginia, with it’s snobbery and inflated cost of living. And the traffic. My God, the traffic!
The gem of the state, however, is considered by many to be the western part of the state with the Blue Ridge mountains to include the Shenandoah region.
And its queen jewel would be the City of Charlottesville.
Charlottesville was routinely recognized both nationally and on the state level as an exemplary city and a great place to live.
With its cultural diversity and eclectic lifestyle, Charlottesville was a city that most Virginians were a little jealous of.
That all changed when hate dropped in for a visit last weekend.
Outside of a select few, no one saw this coming.
Hate speech and the 1st amendment
No one really took notice until a lone driver decided to ram his vehicle into a crowd of counter protesters, killing a female pedestrian.
What made many more, especially my brothers and sisters in blue, take notice, is when two state police pilots perished in a helicopter crash while responding to the riots.
Many have taken their opinion on the riots to social media and have gone down the slippery slope of taking sides.
This is dangerous.
Choosing sides only adds to the divisiveness which causes people to resort to protesting in the first place. As a cop who has worked the streets for over two decades, I have come up with only one hard truth.
People, in general, do NOT want information.
They want affirmation.
Meaning, they are not at all interested in your point of view or what your beliefs are.
What they ARE interested in is if you believe and affirm what they believe. This is why protests and marches seem so ridiculous to me.
This is not to say that a march or protest can’t be effective, if it is peaceful and its intent is to only spread love and mutual understanding.
But not when your only message is hate and discontent for another race or other human being.
If there is nothing on the table for dialogue and mutual understanding, as a goal of your march or protest, it should not be allowed or sponsored by the state as a rite to assemble.
This goes for both sides.
I know that some of you Facebook constitutional law experts are beating your chests and tearing off your garments at such a thought.
“But bro, that’s why America is so great! We can protest and say whatever the hell we want!!”
And I get that.
But at what cost?
Maybe you would change your tact if you were the target of this hatred and not just someone looking from the outside in.
And for the love of god, will all of these sports stars stop kneeling or sitting during the national anthem! Sport is the one place that American’s go to be entertained, not to be continually reminded of our division.
Because when you sit or kneel, that’s exactly what you are doing.
Dividing us further.
It’s no different than what the hate mongering, low-life degenerate, white supremacists are trying to accomplish with their strategy.
Oh, and please stop with the “What really happened in Charlottesville” post articles. They are nothing more than political ramp-up pieces to affirm your chosen side on the issue.
Why we should never allow another rally of this kind ever again
Without sounding too much like a hipster liberal, we are all put on this earth to coexist peacefully and to love each other for the betterment of the human race.
This is in direct opposition to what message was invoked this past weekend.
The same goes for BLM protester’s who call for the death of cops. Neither group should be allowed to promote the destruction of another in such a public way.
Do you want to know how terrified Germany is of having another hate group regain power in their country?
Just for expressing Nazi rhetoric or propaganda will get you put in prison.
Oh, not extreme enough?
The German people are so afraid of another “Third Reich” rising up again that to even publicly deny the holocaust is punishable by law.
But we allow it in this country.
We allow the hatred.
We allow the assembly and planning of groups to spread their message of hatred.
We allow them to publicly announce their intent to destroy other humans.
We allow them to place the oppressed, the marginalized, the “people who aren’t like us” in fear.
I believe this rhetoric of hate and destruction does qualify as screaming, “fire in a crowded movie theatre!”
But American’s have a short memory. I fear that history will not be kind to us if we continue to allow these groups to assemble.
The Germans haven’t forgotten what happened a mere 70+ years ago.
And neither will the 11 year old boy forget the photos he saw in the school library that day….