Saturday, a Neo-Nazi group held a rally on the lawn of the Hamilton County Courthouse. Much to their surprise, a group of several hundred protestors, including myself, showed up to protest the venomous hate spewed by this group. The protestors came in all shape and sizes, races, and political and religious beliefs. And guess what? We all got along. No pushing and shoving, no name calling and nobody got in anybody's face. Everyone was focused on the Nazis across the street.
And the protestors talked. Not at each other but with each other. People sent to the rally to diffuse tensions seemed to be amazed that such a diverse group of people were getting along so well. A couple of people making a documentary interviewed several people from the conservative Tea Party group I was with from North Georgia and Alabama. The interviewer asked me why I came. I told her that I remembered what Edmund Burke said many years ago: "Evil prevails in a society when good people do nothing." And several hundred good people showed up to confront the evil represented by the Nazis. Our group also showed up because we wanted to show other people in our community that conservatives and Tea Party members don't have horns sticking out of our heads, we don't carry pitchforks and we don't run the roads carrying the Confederate flag.
One of my friends told the interviewer that conservatives need to be more engaged with people we don't always see eye to eye with. And he is correct. I'm not so naive to think that the Good Tooth Fairy sprinkled magic dust over the crowd Saturday and all our differences went away. They didn't. But maybe the crowd Saturday could teach leaders in Chattanooga and elsewhere that we can reach out our hands without being slapped with people we don't always agree with and find some common ground to work on issues that affect all citizens and perhaps find some solutions we can all live with to make everyone's life better. We have to at least try.
As for the Nazis, their ears will probably be ringing until judgment day. For the rest of us, we learned that people we don't normally hang with don't bite and won't give us cooties. As for the group I was with, we had an interesting discussion with a writer from a national Communist magazine. But at the end of the conversation, we all shook hands and wished each other well.
As for me, I may be the only person in America who shows up in a documentary talking about his conservative beliefs and also has his picture splashed inside a national Communist magazine. But as Uncle Dave Macon once said, "Ain't that cosmic?"