Opinion: Conservatives must take a stand against hate

nicholas hunter headshot

nicholas hunter headshot

Nicholas Hunter

In my social circles, it’s pretty controversial these days to say that Conservative folks are good people.

I’ll say it anyway. Conservatives are good people.

Snarkiness aside, it seems obvious to some that being a “good” or “bad” person isn’t exclusive to one group of people. I’ve known plenty of vile liberal people, and some of the warmest and kindest people I’ve ever met are deep-red conservatives.

I feel lucky to have that experience — growing up in a conservative town and moving on to a liberal college gave me enough perspective to afford me plenty of empathy for both sides of the coin, in that respect.

But I have lines. I’m intolerant of racism, sexism or xenophobia. I can find some place to forgive more ingrained instances of those problems when they aren’t coming from a vile place — which, let’s be clear, is a luxury of me being straight, white and male — but people who are truly mean and spiteful do not get my benefit of the doubt.

So it gave me some hope when I saw that, after the horrific events that took place during a protest by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend, many of those conservatives I know and respect took to social media to condemn the white supremacists.

Many spoke of unity, peace and love, and even almost-certainly-conservative country music star Kip Moore took to Facebook and Twitter to lay into the protestors in Charlottesville. It gave me — and still leaves me with — hope that, in the end, love will prevail over hate.

For full disclosure, I had a version of this column written, and in it, I condemned Trump for his refusal to follow suit. His use of vague language that admonished violence “on all sides” was, seemingly, intentionally nonspecific and emboldened white nationalists in their horrific cause.

Since then, he has released a statement saying “Racism is evil,” and calling KKK members, neo Nazis and white supremacists “criminals and thugs.” He also said those groups “are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

While I am happy to see this, it is – to say the very least – troubling that it took him two days to make that statement, that he made it only after massive pressure from nearly every politician and that it is a statement that needs to be made in the first place.

For a man who is swift in condemning everyone from North Korea to former President Barack Obama to his own Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, it took him an alarmingly long time to condemn white supremacists.

This delay in strong reaction, coupled with his attack on Kenneth Frazier, a black pharmaceutical executive that was a member of Trump’s American Manufacturing Council over his initial reaction to the Charlottesville incident, leaves his recent statement with a large cloud of doubt surrounding it.

I may be wrong, and it could be a case of Trump taking time to find the right words for a proper statement. But he has never shown a penchant for thought-out statements.

In having this doubt, I look to the good conservatives I know to keep pressure on the president. Any signal to white supremacists that he will stand by and let hate prevail is not only unacceptable but deeply against everything the United States should stand for.

By sending the message that hate will not prevail is the only way I know that we can keep moving forward.

I ask anyone who reads this to push forward with love as well.

Nicholas Hunter is the opinion editor. Contact him at [email protected].