Freedom of belief and freedom of expression are two of this nation’s founding principles that are most dear to us at the Hindu American Foundation. Our own organization is founded on the idea that pluralism of belief and mutual respect must be the cornerstones of an inclusive society in which all are afforded dignity.

What our country witnessed this past weekend in Charlottesville, violently illustrated that when it comes to the expression of hateful, intolerant, profoundly bigoted ideologies, accompanied by implicit and explicit violence, tolerance can reach its limits, and such words and actions must forcefully be repudiated and condemned.

To maintain and build a tolerant, pluralistic society, these forms of intolerance and exclusivism themselves cannot be tolerated. There is no place in American society for white supremacy, white nationalism, anti-Semitism, neo-Nazis, the KKK, or any ideology associated with these forms of ignorance and bigotry. If there was any doubt about the motivations of the march participants, documentary footage and interviews with march organizers from Vice News and broadcast by HBO, should leave no doubt: their goal is the creation of a white ethno-state from which all other races and ethnicities are purged, violently if necessary. They must be called out as dangerous, hateful extremists.

 While President Trump condemned the forces of white supremacy, neo-Nazis and the KKK by name on Aug. 14, 2017, the Foundation, like most Americans, stands stunned and outraged that President Trump reverted later to voicing a false moral equivalency between the values and actions of the groups participating in the Unite the Right rally and those of the brave individuals opposing them.

Thankfully, all Americans are united today in their belief that President Trump's words crossed an important line of moral clarity, and he must right this grievous harm with actions, more than words, to bring this nation together.

HAF is first and foremost an organization for the Hindu American community. Each of us, if we truly believe in the principles of mutual respect, pluralism, equality, compassion, truth, and nonviolence, we must speak out against those individuals and groups who spread hatred, exclusivism, and intolerance.

Opposing bigotry and hate is not about liberal or conservative, left or right. It’s about right and wrong, and basic human decency.

Mat McDermott


Washington, D.C.

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