Nazis, Klansmen and other racists appalled all decent, sane people who watched what happened at the supremacist marches in Charlottesville, Virginia in the USA.
Nazi salutes were thrown. People who believe Caucasians are created better than Black people did not even feel the need to hide their faces behind white hoods.
Donald Trump suddenly forgot how to tweet. There was eerie silence from the President who is usually so quick to condemn anything he disagrees. Many concluded that racist demonstrations don’t bother him.
Imagine, for a second, what that must feel like for someone from a minority group in the US. Their President says nothing about people celebrating symbols and ideologies that call for their total oppression or even genocide.
Hard to imagine? Try this: a massive rally takes place where people celebrate symbols and ideology that call for the total oppression and genocide of a group you belong to – like Christians.
Perhaps its an ISIS rally. And our Prime Minister says nothing. Let's go further. Imagine if you lived in a country where ISIS views have, in the past, been tolerated, encouraged and enshrined in law.
How would you feel?
In reacting to what happened in Charlottesvile, people got angry. There was outrage, and I can imagine why. If my grandparents had been beaten or lynched for the colour of their skin, if my parents had suffered under oppressive segregation, if I had a friend or relative who had been shot down in cold blood by a police department because that is just way more likely if you’re Black in America, I’d have been angry, too. I’ve experienced none of that, and I was angry anyway.
So, counter-demonstrations erupted. Violence broke out. One white supremacist terrorist drove his car into a group of counter-demonstrators. One young woman died. 19 were injured.
At some point, Donald Trump rediscovered his thumbs and tweeted that terrible acts of bigotry and violence had been committed 'on many sides' and denounced it. He took time out to denounce everyone involved. That’s like Theresa May denouncing police for shooting the Islamist terrorists who drove into pedestrians recently, or lumping ordinary Londoners in with the terrorists when apportioning blame.
I am conflicted on the issue of violence. Christians should be very slow to kill or harm other human beings. Slow to the point of standstill in most cases.
But I find it hard to criticise the Allied soldiers who were willing to use violence to stop the ideology that put Jews, Communists, gay people and others in their millions into gas chambers. I find it hard to criticise Nelson Mandela for using violence to free his country from racist degradation.
We need not resort to violence, but we must – without reservation – take sides
And I find it hard to condemn the anti-fascists for getting violent. Because they are fighting the same enemy. People in Charlottesville whose great grandfathers had fought and died opposing fascism with machine guns and artillery resorted to fists and killed no-one.
But I can accept Christians denouncing that violence. If they denounce in stronger terms, not just the disproportionate and murderous violence of some, but the violent ideology at the heart of the white supremacist protest.
Let’s be very clear: KKK ideology, Nazi beliefs and white supremacy are not just ‘wrong’. They are evil.
They are not just sin, they are proactively satanic. To equivocate, to make allowances and to pretend that 'many sides' are to blame is to side with the worst kind of blasphemy because so many of the people deceived by these satanic beliefs do so in the name of Christianity.
We cannot be neutral. We must not be nuanced. We need not resort to violence, but we must – without reservation – take sides. Not to do so is to abandon and deny the God of justice and Christ Jesus who came into the world to free us from evil like this. If the politicians you support don’t do the same, you must ask yourself why they still enjoy your loyalty, and you must choose between them and Jesus.