Smith: Reject the violence, intimidation; it's not speech

A makeshift memorial of flowers and a photo of victim, Heather Heyer, sits in Charlottesville, Va., Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. Heyer died when a car rammed into a group of people who were protesting the presence of white supremacists who had gathered in the city for a rally. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

From my personal experience, there are hateful people in both the Republican and Democratic parties, usually because they're just miserable folks. I've encountered racists and sexists in both political parties. All are disgusting. I've encountered unethical, corrupt folks from both sides of the partisan divide. Neither should be above the law or rules. There are individuals from both political parties who despise religion and shamelessly seek personal power and influence. These are the people who worship themselves and can't identify with the thought of humility and shared purpose.

Equally, I've been blessed to work with God-fearing folks in both parties. I've seen the best of humanity from people in both parties through charity and in times of great trial. As others have, I've been criticized for having friendships and business dealings with Democrats and even those rascally moderate Republicans. Having worked as a registered nurse in a world-class heart transplant program right out of college, I learned quickly that my faith and politics are always with me but in forming effective teams, the cause and the purpose are the priorities.

There are, clearly, dramatic differences in the political parties, their governing philosophies and approaches to solving problems such as poverty, health care costs, illegal immigration and the rule of law based on the U.S. Constitution.

Yet, the events of the last several months involving despicable violence and even death are not representative of the whole.

photo Robin Smith

Today, there are several groups whose extremism and use of violence are harming both political parties and our nation. They all need to be uniformly rejected.

The vile neo-Nazis and white supremacists clearly have an irrational view of themselves and an equally irrational hatred toward any nonwhite. These true fascists seek a government that's very concentrated in its power with all rights awarded by the state, specifically, a dictator.

Adolf Hitler's admiration of Italy's Benito Mussolini's fascism was evidenced in Nazism. Anything rooted in fascism hates the practice of a religion of personal choice, despises free speech and won't permit private property, all the antithesis of the political right. The neo-Nazi, white supremacist crowd manifests evil.

Anarchists, frequently involved in violence, claim that our democratic republic and its systems oppress citizens. Using their thesis, anarchist activities disrupt and reject any ruling authority in pursuit of a stateless society believing they can live in a self-governed capacity - an embarrassing paradox in their perpetually aggrieved existence.

Members of the Antifa, or anti-fascists, are defined by CNN "as a broad group of people whose political beliefs lean toward the left - often the far left." In recent days, Antifa members, dressed in dark-colored clothing, masks, armed with concrete-filled soda cans, baseball bats and bicycle chains have been credited with mass destruction of property and individual harm, most famously at Berkeley, Calif., in response to conservative speakers on the campus of the University of California. Their aim is to create a collective state, permit only government-sanctioned speech and other state-awarded rights. Ironically, they support the fascism they claim to oppose.

Factually, any protest group committed to and employing violence loses any shred of credibility.

Let's reject the violence, intimidation and name-calling. Americans, let's be guardians of truth and mutual respect.

Robin Smith, a former chairwoman of the Tennessee Republican Party, owns Rivers Edge Alliance.