August 14, 2017
As a nation we are shocked and saddened by the acts of terror that unfolded in Charlottesville, Virginia last Friday and Saturday. They strike me personally very close to home. I am an alumna of the University of Virginia School of Law (class of 2004), and the three years I spent living in Charlottesville were delightful and formative. It was there that I first had the opportunity to engage daily in thoughtful and civil discussion of opposing ideas. It is the culture of this university to share a stage, a smile, and a beer with one’s political “opponents.” I still have several friends living in Charlottesville, including Mayor Michael Signer, who was the President of the UVA chapter of the American Constitution Society at the same time I was President of the Federalist Society, so we planned a number of joint discussion/debate events together. I also have at least one friend who was participating in the counter-protest this past weekend, someone I consider a reliable eyewitness to these horrifying events.
It should go without saying that white supremacists, the alt-right, and certainly neo-Nazis have no place in a party with “solidarity” in its name. As the sure-to-become-iconic photo of the neo-Nazi plowing his car into a sea of pedestrians shows literally and figuratively, this act of terror was aimed straight at the sign of Solidarity. At its heart, solidarity is the recognition that we are all brothers and sisters in our common humanity. The term originated among 19th century theologians, who used it to signify not only our shared dignity as persons bearing the image and likeness of God, but also our collective responsibility to each other to share both material and spiritual goods. Solidarity is intrinsically opposed to tribalism, to selfishness, and to attacks on the equal dignity of all human persons.
Murder and the murderous ideology of Nazism are the diabolical opposite of solidarity. White supremacy—or any assertion of supremacy for that matter—is incompatible with solidarity. The term “alt-right” is a more slippery one, and intentionally so. I have many times encountered articles about the alt-right as well as persons online who call themselves alt-right, but there is no centralizing identity and no two accounts of this phenomenon are the same. The best way I can describe the alt-right from these encounters is a nihilistic collection of Internet bullies and saboteurs whose only commonality is contempt for advocates of social justice. Again, this is definitionally opposed to solidarity.
In my opinion it is not enough, if we are to be true to our name of the American Solidarity Party, to merely condemn ideas that are our antithesis. We must positively work toward building solidarity. We must, as our platform says, acknowledge and address the persistence of unjust discrimination in our society, and pay particular attention to the effect that policies have on vulnerable and marginalized groups. We must examine our own consciences for subtler ways we fail to recognize and promote the equal dignity of other persons. To be true to our core principles as a party, we must speak and act as if we believe in the necessity of social justice, and promote a more peaceful world.
H. Lillian Vogl
Chairwoman of the National Committee of the American Solidarity Party