Anti-Hate Groups Seize on Charlottesville as Teachable Moment - NBC Chicago
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Anti-Hate Groups Seize on Charlottesville as Teachable Moment

The SPLC on Monday issued a step-by-step "community response guide" on how to fight hate

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    Anti-hate groups in the United States are giving guidance on what individuals can do to combat hate-inspired violence in the wake of a deadly attack at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

    To counter hate-inspired attacks in the U.S., Americans must join forces, speak out and educate themselves about the history and ideology of white nationalists and hate organizations, groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, the NAACP and the Anti-Defamation League argue.

    The SPLC on Monday issued a step-by-step "community response guide" on how to fight hate after 32-year-old Heather Heyer was killed when a car plowed into counter-protesters at the rally. Her alleged killer, James Fields Jr., had been fascinated with Nazism and idolized Adolf Hitler, according to his high school teacher.

    To show why the guide is needed now more than ever, the SPLC noted a number of recent U.S. hate crimes, including the 2015 Charleston church shooting and racist graffiti being found in a school in Stapleton, Colorado. 

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    The SPLC's 10-point blueprint includes guidance like "educate yourself," "speak up" and "join forces." 

    "Others share your desire to stand against hate," the SPLC wrote in the guide, under the "join forces" section. "There is power in numbers. Asking for help and organizing a group reduces personal fear and vulnerability, spreads the workload, and increases creativity and impact." 

    The guide adds, "A hate crime often creates an opportunity for a community’s first dialogue on race, gender identity, or religious intolerance. It can help bridge the gap between neighborhoods and law enforcement."

    The ADL similarly published a curriculum for teachers on how the violence in Charlottesville is a "teachable moment." The curriculum noted it should be described in the correct historical context and could be used to further understanding of the First Amendment. 

    "While freedom of speech means that you can share your opinions and exchange ideas freely without government control — even if it is hateful — there is some speech that is not protected by the First Amendment; this includes obscenity, defamation, true threats, and incitement to imminent lawless action," the curriculum stated. "Talk with students about the First Amendment and our freedoms and emphasize that condemning hatred, bias and white supremacy and vigorously protecting free speech are not mutually exclusive."

    An NAACP leader told NBC that understanding the ideologies held by groups like the opposing sides that clashed in Charlottesville is instrumental in ending hate-inspired violence. 

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    "Understanding what the ideologies are, the arguments and the realities of the vision each side seeks, is crucial," said Hilary Shelton, the NAACP's Washington bureau director.

    "On one side of the equation, you had those that believe in white supremacy, racial segregation and treating those leaders of the confederacy as heroes," Shelton said. "On the other side of the issue ... you had those that wanted to promote diversity, equal opportunity." 

    To Shelton, if people truly grasp the difference between the two sides, hate groups will not thrive.