Defying an age of hatred, Ben Carson sets an example for America
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The American Civil War is an enduring one. Though formal hostilities ended on May 9, 1865, the divisions and strains that were both caused and produced by the internecine conflict have continued. The shocking resurgence of hate groups across America reminds us that old wounds can still cause fresh pain.

On the surface, it is easy to condemn the forces of hatred and bigotry that we see displayed at some of these rallies. It shocks the conscience to believe that deep into the second decade of the 21st century, an armed group bearing the battle flags of two sworn enemies of the United States (the Confederacy and the Nazis) would march through the streets of our cities spewing vile threats against their own countrymen. It seems incredulous that we need to remind ourselves how dearly a price in blood and treasure we paid to rid ourselves of the scourges of slavery and the encroaching horror Nazi atrocities.
While all Americans enjoy the constitutional right to speak freely and to bear arms, what is permissible is not always prudent. The confrontational nature of these rallies is designed to provoke and intimidate others. African Americans and Jews seemed to be the intended targets in Charlottesville, perhaps especially because the city is home to a large number of blacks, and its mayor, who happens to be Jewish, has endorsed a city plan to remove Confederate statues.

This hit home to me recently when I found out that my friends, Dr. Ben and Candy Carson, had their Virginia home vandalized with anti-Trump and racially derogatory messages. Dr. Carson, who is a man of uncommon grace, was reluctant to talk publicly about the incident. But when I heard about it I was driven to fuming and frustration. It seemed like a declaration of war by his political enemies. As their friend, I wanted to lash out to protect them both.


And that’s where the seduction begins. We begin to let hate seduce us when we believe we are facing an existential threat and want to lash out against it. In the face of globalism, Islamic extremism, and tough economic conditions at home, many people are floundering. They are looking for an answer, and a sacrificial lamb will often do in lieu of real, practical solutions. And yet, sacrificed at the altar of extremism are the very character traits that actually would save us from the ills we fear – they include our forbearance, our fortitude, our patience, our kindness to our fellow neighbor. We burn in effigy our tolerance of others, and in doing so, lose the ability to harvest our collective strengths in the essential work of personal and community transformation.
The individuals who vandalized Dr. Carson’s home have no regard for African Americans, Jewish people or anyone who is not in sync with their line of thinking. Yet despite this fact, Dr. Carson refused to react out of fear and hate. That’s an example we could all learn from during these tough and difficult times. That doesn’t mean we ignore what is done, nor does it mean that we don’t make any efforts to make a difference.

When hate is unleashed it rarely restricts itself to the objects of its hatred. As we witnessed in Charlottesville, it was a white Christian woman — not an African American or a Jew — who ultimately paid the highest price for the weaponization of racial hatred.

No matter what the underlying frustrations of the marchers in Charlottesville were, they betrayed their own just causes by aligning themselves with the KKK and Nazis. They were not in that moment behaving as good and decent people. They crossed the line into using the power of evil as a vindication for their pain. In accepting the aid of evil, they entered into a false bargain that will ultimately destroy their true aims. 

“Several years ago we bought a farm in rural Maryland," Dr. Carson said in a post published to Facebook. "One of the neighbors immediately put up a Confederate flag… all the other neighbors immediately put up American flags shaming the other neighbor who took down the Confederate flag.”

The key to our response to hate should follow the wise example of Carson’s neighbors. They did not resort to acts of violence and vandalism by tearing down the neighbor’s Confederate flag as some would have done. Rather they chose to exhibit the virtue of love, and in so doing, overcame hate.

I am still hopeful that, as a nation, we can pause to reflect about the character traits and principles that have truly made us great, and upon which we must rely if we are to be restored to glory. We are a country that upholds the sanctity of life, and the human rights of individuals — irrespective of race, ethnicity, or religion. We cannot move forward as a nation until we abandon hatred and return at once to our principles.

Armstrong Williams (@ARightSide) is author of the brand new book, "Reawakening Virtues." He served as an adviser and spokesman for Dr. Ben Carson's 2016 presidential campaign, and is on Sirius XM126 Urban View nightly from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Eastern.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.