By Robert Mann
When violent white supremacy exploded in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend, many of us wondered how these young men could have gone awry, descending not only into bigotry but hate so virulent that they could embrace Nazism and murder in service of racial purity.
Where and how did they acquire their sick ideology? What did their parents teach or model for these men that led to their acceptance of such dark and cancerous evil? What could have been done to point them in another direction?
This week, I’ve also asked myself if i have done enough to teach my children about the dignity and inherent worth of every person.
I pray I have. This I know: If my daughter and son have learned anything about love and tolerance from their dad, it’s because my mother taught it to me.
In recent decades, few weeks have passed that I haven’t recalled a seminal, searing event of my childhood, a moment as inedible in my early memory as the Kennedy assassination or Neil Armstrong’s Moon walk. It was the Sunday morning in the late-1960s when my mother — outraged by the humiliation of a black woman who visited our church — dressed down our pastor.
The middle-aged woman was driving to worship when her car broke down in front of the Pinecrest Church of Christ in Beaumont, Texas. Not wishing to miss worship, she came inside. Most members welcomed her warmly. In acknowledging her, however, our pastor explained to the congregation the unusual circumstances that brought this interloper to us, the subtext being we could rest easy knowing she wouldn’t return.
My mother was livid.
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