Her name was Heather Heyer.
She was a 32-year-old legal assistant from Virginia, a woman who had her young life cut short doing what was right.
As you’ve probably heard by now, Heather was killed by a man who drove his car purposefully into a crowd of people protesting a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Watching the events unfold over the weekend left me feeling stunned, then it made me sad, and now it’s making me angry.
I’m angry because it’s 2017 and we still have to protest against crap like white supremacy. Why is that even a thing in this day and age? Why should anyone feel empowered enough and sure enough in their message of hate, bigotry, and division that they’re going out, hoodless and in khakis, to march in the streets and shout it from the rooftops?
I know that bad ideas exist and always will. I often try to look at those people as victims of indoctrination. It’s sad to me. But with this, I can’t simply look at them with pity—I look at them with anger, and I’m standing up to say this is not okay, because sitting around and doing nothing is what helps bad ideas like this persist.
We live in the United States where we have the right to free speech, and part of having that right means you have to listen to a lot of stuff you don’t agree with. I’m not saying these bigots don’t have the right to say whatever hateful drivel spews from their frothing maws, but I am saying that they should be universally condemned and called out for it. These ideas are not be acceptable on any level, ever. It is the responsibility of every decent citizen to say loudly and often, “You can have ridiculous ideas about race and hate and division, but they are not welcome here and they never will be.”
Living in Bloomington, I’ve always seen a few Confederate flags right alongside American ones. Over the past few days, I’ve seen Nazi flags in the mix, too. For a long time, I thought those people just needed a good history lesson. Now, I understand that they’re immune to the concept of irony. They’ll never understand that you can’t call yourself an American patriot exercising American rights and fly those flags. You just can’t. Too many people have died to make sure those flags didn’t rise again, and you can bet your sweet bippy that I’m not going to sit by and watch as people who claim to love America go against everything true patriots have fought and died for.
Heather Heyer is just the most recent death in a long line of senseless murders sown from bigotry and hatred. Her memory should serve as a reminder that the fight is still happening and we all have to get in there and do our part—sitting around and watching is no longer an option.
Do what you can to make sure Heather’s death wasn’t in vain. Vote. Protest. Drown out bad ideas with better ones. Let people know that bad ideas don’t exist in a vacuum, that bad ideas cause some people to think that getting into a car and driving it into a crowd of other people who disagree with you is a good idea. That bad ideas have caused millions of people to die in gas chambers. That they cause families to be devastated by the loss of loved ones who are victims of hate crimes because of their race or religion or sexual orientation or gender identity.
I’ve had enough and I’m going to quadruple my efforts to ensure equality and peace for everyone. Will you join me?