The horrific events that took place in Charlottesville last weekend have left many people wondering how to slow the progress of white supremacist groups. But for some people, what happened in Charlottesville is personal. As images have surfaced from the rally, they have found themselves staring at pictures of their friends, family and associates.
In the past, these hateful viewpoints were swept under the rug and unknowingly normalized through lack of correction. However, one father understands the importance of distancing himself from hate so much that he was willing to publicly denounce his son after he saw pictures of him at the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.
“I, along with all of his siblings and his entire family, wish to loudly repudiate my son’s vile, hateful and racist rhetoric and actions. We do not know specifically where he learned these beliefs. He did not learn them at home,” wrote Tefft.
After seeing his son — a self-proclaimed white nationalist — in several media outlets, Tefft made it clear that his beliefs aren't welcome at home.
Tefft has come under fire for denouncing his child for his views. But the flip side of Tefft's approach can be seen in how Samantha Lea Bloom, mother of James Alex Fields Jr., who allegedly drove a car through protesters in Charlottesville, reported that she did her best to “stay out of his political views.”
Fields had a history of interest in fascist, neo-nazi material since grade school. Had she spoken up when the signs of radicalism first came into view, it's possible that we wouldn't be mourning the loss of Heather Heyer, who was fatally hit by Fields’ car at the Unite the Right rally last week.
It's not easy for parents to call out the actions of their children. But I believe Tefft did an honorable thing by publicly denouncing his son. He is setting an example for other parents that makes it clear that hate should not be tolerated.
I hope that the public support he receives is enough to reassure him that he made the right decision. I also hope his example leads parents in similar positions to do the same.
We can't afford to sweep things under the rug when lives are at stake.