What occurred this weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia was an act of domestic terrorism. One anti-fascist protester, Heather Heyers, was murdered for marching against the gathering of neo-Nazis. Two State Troopers, H. Jay Cullen and Berke M.M. Bates, were also killed in the line of duty. What began on Friday as a gathering of white supremacists who espoused violent beliefs escalated into a bloodbath which took the lives of innocents and led to the physical harm of many more.
There were many on Friday and in the early hours of Saturday who said the white supremacists who gathered on the UVA campus were free to do so under the First Amendment, that they were simply executing their right to free speech. The ACLU also took this stand when asked by Americans to respond to the hate and violence being preached by said white supremacists. Hate speech is not an abstract concept, or an act with unimportant consequences. Hate speech has a body count, as we saw this weekend.
And while freedom of speech is written into so many state constitutions and legal frameworks, it is rarely enjoyed by everyone. There are some people whose simplest acts of speaking out publicly are denounced as violent by the state and press and policed accordingly. Then there are some people who can show up to a rally fully armed with their militias and be left unbothered, as a protected class, for the day. In the case of the UVA white supremacist march, it is people of color, Jewish people, and other marginalized communities who suffer while young white men speak freely. When Nazis marched in Charlottesville, the Police guarded their right to free speech. The same cannot be said for those that marched against them. Free speech is a privilege that few have access to.
We at this magazine are in a special position to create and share ideas to a global community of readers. We have diligently worked to utilize our “right” to free speech to create a home for truth and information, for that is what the First Amendment seeks to immortalize. We will not see free speech be weaponized against our people, our friends, or our families. Kajal Magazine stands against fascism, the events of Charlottesville, and the events of the future when hate speech is used against marginalized people.
Heather Heyers was martyred for standing up to fascism. She marched against white supremacists and was killed. State Troopers Cullen and Bates were part of the state’s response to the escalation. None of these people deserved to die. None of the people gathered in Charlottesville deserved to be harmed. Hate speech has a body count. We must do everything we can to hinder it and ensure it harms no one else.
The Kajal Team