The moment I found out there was going to be a "White Lives Matter" rally I knew I had to be there. It had been too long reading about them, looking at pictures of shields and helmets to ignore their presence so close to a place I call home.
So on Saturday at 4 a.m. some friends and I went to Shelbyville as reporters to watch protesters and counter-protesters in a shouting match on who can threaten the loudest.
One of the counter-protesters kept belittling the white supremacists. "Why are you so late? Where's your people? Poor master race."
People on both sides were screaming so loud both of my ears went numb. How was this anything other than a show of force?
I don't think joking about the white supremacists' daughters or commenting on the sexual orientation of the counter-protesters is not actual dialogue. Not once during the entire protest did I see someone try to talk it out.
And no, screaming "f*ck you Nazis" or "no one else will f*ck you, f*ggots" is not talking.
And I understand some ideas are toxic, but if our sink is clogged we don't pour some more spaghetti down the drain. I will repeat until the day I die that the only way we're going to get out of this is by fighting with our ideas, not our fists.
I don't think we should wipe everyone who is not white (mainly because I like being alive) but to try to understand someone, the first step is to put yourself in their shoes.
Racism is irrational, but the people spewing it are not. To assume everyone on the other side is inherently bad and the only thing you can do is either kill them or beat them up is as irrational as the ideas the counter-protesters so vehemently oppose.
Consider the underlying circumstances both groups face right now. One group is so worried of their way of life and livelihood disappearing that they advocate for extreme racial measures: they don't want to die. "You will not replace us." The other sees this wave of nationalism rising and they fear for their friends and family being pushed away from a place they call home: they also don't want to die. "We will replace you."
Counter-protesters on one side support "fighting love with hate" then do the exact thing they're trying to prevent: push people away with their attitude. Hatred has no place in civil discourse.
I don't regret going. I never felt unsafe – thanks police – and while I got some stares along the way, it was a very enriching experience.
It's depressing to realize we need so much preparation and security to ensure we don't kill each other.
Like Rodney King once said: "Can't we all just get along?"