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Violence, hatred not part of freedoms

As a nation, now is the time we must stand united, stand strong in our belief in this country’s principles and stand against hatred.

The events in Charlottesville, Virginia, were heartbreaking and disgusting, no way representative of the freedom and acceptance our country was built on.

The white supremacist groups and their hate speech should be condemned at every level and ignored, as they want attention and a platform for their messages of hatred and discrimination.

There is a wide line between freedom of speech and promoting hatred and violence. America has no place for the latter.

As painful as it is to admit, we all share in the blame for this tragic situation and the toxic climate facing our great nation.

Each and every American can do more to end the partisan venom directed toward political opponents. We can do more to promote acceptance and understanding of those who are different. All of us must stand up to denounce hatred and let groups like the ones in Virginia know they aren’t welcome here and they will be tolerated only until they cross that line from free speech to hatred.

Many may feel this doesn’t impact Winchester or Clark County, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The individuals who fuel these hate groups come from small towns like ours all across the country. We must do more as a community to educate our youth and break down racial and ethnic divides that spill over into the larger world.

Lexington may soon face similar issues after Mayor Jim Gray announced plans to move the statues of Confederates, the exact impetus for the Charlottesville conflict.

Honoring the past is one thing, but celebrating ideals built on hatred and discrimination is far different.

No one should look at the tragedy that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia, as acceptable or a byproduct of free speech. It isn’t.

Healing can start with honest communication and understanding that we are the great melting pot of the world, a trait we will always believe is America’s greatest strength.