The Holocaust Center condemns the violence in Charlottesville, VA
Every morning, we walk into our office and are reminded of one of the 20th century’s darkest moments. We walk by this flag, displayed in our museum, and usually, keep on walking. We have seen it so many times. But this morning, one staff member didn’t keep walking. She stopped and stared. This flag, once the symbol of a nation, now symbolizes hatred and intolerance. We display it in our museum as a reminder of a terrible history, never meant to be flown again.
But it has flown again. This past weekend, it was held up by people in our own country who sought to celebrate its evil legacy rather than condemn it. The Nazi slogan, “Blood and Soil,” was chanted during the rallies in Charlottesville, VA. This flag, this slogan, both laden with symbolism, both commemorating bigotry and genocide, was flown and chanted under the protection of free speech.
As a museum that seeks to use the lessons of the Holocaust to ensure a better future and to spark civil dialogue, we must now ask: what does free speech protect? Who is it protecting? And where is that line between free speech and hate speech?
This conversation cannot happen in isolation. As a response to the tragic events in Virginia, we ask that you join us for an open program and panel discussion, Protest: Free Speech v. Hate Speech, on Tuesday, August 22 at 6pm. During this program, we will not only seek answers to the questions above, but will also provide guidance as to what you can do when you see hate speech in your community.