Sen. Tim Scott: Fight Hatred, Fear and Domestic Terror with American Ideals

There is nothing "right" about racism and hate. It’s a learned disease, and the best antidote is unity. This weekend’s events involving white supremacist groups are as disturbing and disgusting as they are heartbreaking. The attack was a stark reminder of the darkness of hate. We must come together, as we have before, to confront the issues that chip away at the very foundation of who we are and what we stand for as a country.

Unfortunately, the people of South Carolina know this type of domestic terrorism all too well. Our response to the events in Charlottesville, Va., should mirror our response to the murders at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston. Condemnation of racism. Swift justice for a terrorist. And unity for the community that grieves. It starts with calling the attack in Charlottesville by its name. This was an act of domestic terror, perpetrated by a hate-filled person attacking his fellow citizens.

Our country has a motto that should ring true now as it has many times throughout our history: e pluribus unum, out of many, one. We are a country of many. And we are the greatest country the world has ever seen. My story is just one story indicative of a larger narrative. As I often say, my family went from cotton to Congress in just one generation. That’s because of the opportunity our nation provides to all its people. Our nation’s strength lies in our diversity. We are powerful and accepting, and should stand ready to defend liberty and justice for all.

I believe that the greatest, underappreciated threat we face is the unraveling that occurs from the inside out. We must stay unified. We must hold true to what makes us who we are as a nation.

We are Americans. From all walks of life. From many different backgrounds. Everyone working towards the American Dream. Nowhere in that dream is there room for racism. Nowhere in that dream is there room for hate. It should go without saying that there is absolutely no room for violence. Not in Charleston. Not in Charlottesville. Not in Alexandria, or anywhere else a hate-filled individual decides to show his or her face.

Am I angry that racism exists in this country I love so dearly? Absolutely. But I know that it is not indicative of the vast majority of Americans. Overwhelmingly we believe in the words, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

I also know that our best chance to defeat racism is in continually expressing our most American of ideals. That we are one nation made of many peoples. That we are one nation under God.

As Martin Luther King Jr. said, "We must all learn to live together as brothers — or we will all perish together as fools."

I encourage us all to reach out to those who may hold a different viewpoint and extend a hand. A good friend and colleague, Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., and I launched an initiative called Solution Sunday to help get folks from different walks of life to sit down for a meal and get to know one another. Not only to discuss what we might have in common, but most important to candidly discuss our differences. We should encourage everyone to engage in civil conversation, and to always choose to counter hatred and fear with the blunt force of unity.

We all must choose a team in moments like these. Will we be on the side of violence and hate? Or on the side of unity? I choose to be on the side of America. That’s my team. One that represents justice, liberty, equality and opportunity. I know that God will continue to bless us as a nation, and I pray for healing in the days and weeks to come. My thoughts are especially with the families of Heather Heyer, Virginia State Police officers H. Jay Cullen and Berke M.M. Bates, those injured, and the families and loved ones affected by the weekend's tragedies.

Tim Scott is a Republican senator from South Carolina.

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