(Editors Note: Below you will find a guest column I recently submitted to our local newspaper, the Austin American Statesman. I will let you know if it gets published. However, I wanted you all to know of my settled opposition to the ideology of white supremacy, which I find disgusting and hateful and anti-gospel. –geno)
[Update: The Statesman published an edited version of my guest column on September 3, 2017. Unbeknownst to me, the Confederate Militia had called off their protest the day before saying they were too busy helping with Hurricane Harvey rescues. –geno]
Dear Counter Protesters,
I think there may be a better way than a show of force or numbers to make your point that racist white-supremacy ideology is unacceptable and disgusting.
Turn your back on it. Shun it all.
In my opinion the very best thing would be for no one to show up at all in counter protest.
In fact, religious leaders are being urged to open their houses of worship from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 23rd, to encourage people from their local communities to pray for peace and justice during the so-called Dixie Freedom Rally. In this way, hopefully, there will be something very constructive for people to do during the time of the demonstration and, thus, fewer folks for the police to police.
It seems to me that if no one were there to hear the race-baiting exaltation of Confederate history…that would send a more powerful message to the larger public than a massive show of force that could spiral out of control.
Sure, you could attempt to intimidate the neo-Confederates into silence, as some of your Facebook posts have urged. But that would make you more like them than not because the ideology of white supremacy was upheld by precisely such tactics—suppressing the voices of the oppressed and the opposition. Intimidation by numbers was a KKK tactic in the deep South and by others elsewhere. Let it not become yours.
However, I understand how oppressive, racist, white supremacy-fueled ideology can make one’s blood boil to the point that getting out and letting the world know how one feels just feels good. It is also a great thing to meet up with others of like mind.
So please, let me urge you, all of you, to turn your backs on the white supremacists and the neo-Nazis and the alt-right, and all the others who want to intimidate people of color by simply spewing their message and getting in the press.
Let them march behind police barricades keeping them safe as our law demands, but let them see a larger society that has turned its back on their hateful ideas and harmful words…literally.
I also thought an idea on your Facebook page should get some serious attention: sing! Sing songs to counter their thuggish talk. Just sing. There are a number of great songs that have come out of the civil rights movement. Someone also suggested ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’. Great idea.
My dear friend, Pastor Joe Parker, recently urged white religious leaders to speak out against the rising tide of white supremacy, that our silence is now deafening. I was stung by his remarks.
I have urged our congregants at Hope Chapel to oppose displays of white supremacy, both public and private, teaching that such an ideology is antithetical to the gospel of Jesus who will one day be worshipped by some from ‘every tongue, tribe, people and nation.’ (Revelation 5:9, ESV)
In biblical Christianity there simply is no such thing as a superior race.
I would love to see you all gather with many thousands of others in some house of worship and in that place turn your back on white supremacy and your face toward the One who “…made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth,…” (Acts 17:26a, ESV)
You will be welcome to join us at Hope Chapel.
Geno Hildebrandt, Senior Pastor
Hope Chapel, hope.org