(CNS guest column)
By Carole Norris Greene
Catholic News Service
The Ku Klux Klan once came out primarily at night, carrying torches with their faces covered by hoods with ghostly openings for eyes and mouths.
They were out in droves in Charlottesville, Virginia, in mid-August. Their faces were unmasked and held high, unapologetic. They joined hundreds of other white supremacists protesting the February vote by the City Council to remove a statue from Lee Park that has memorialized Confederate General Robert E. Lee since 1924. In June, the city renamed Lee Park to Emancipation Park.
Remove the statue and you try to erase history, the Unite the Right rally argued vehemently.
That statue, said hundreds of counterprotesters with equal passion, is a monument to white supremacy and must go.
Soon evil, like a venomous snake, reared its ugly head in the once-quiet college town.
I was vacationing in Charlottesville with my husband and a friend the three days leading up to the ill-fated rally. Everywhere we went, we were greeted by friendly people. We drove home that Friday morning unaware of the hatred to be spewed that night as tiki torches were lifted high and racial slurs chanted.
The next day, social activist Heather Heyer was murdered when a Nazi sympathizer rammed his car into the crowd of anti-protesters. Two Virginia state troopers died en route to surveillance of the clash. Many were injured.
Anyone looking for God in all of this may take comfort in considering that, just as the antidote for a poisonous snake bite is found within the venom, the antidote to evil is likewise built within itself.
Making an antidote to coral snake poison, for example, takes time, as many as three years and 69,000 milkings to obtain one pint of the snake’s venom.
After the snake is milked with its head grasped so that it will not bite, the venom is cooled considerably and freeze-dried for storage and transport for immunization. The venom is then injected into animals, horses mainly because of their large body mass, for the creation of antibodies.
But before the chemist injects an animal, the venom is mixed with distilled water or another buffer solution. Then an adjuvant, a substance that enhances the body’s immune response to a foreign substance, is added. Thus the horse remains healthy as its immune system reacts, producing antibodies that attach to and neutralize the venom.
So, while countless people are horrified by Unite the Right’s poisonous display in Charlottesville, God is already using that same venom to make the antidote!
The white supremacists did not save the Lee monument; they only numbered its days and ignited efforts across the United States to bring down other Confederate symbols. Some counterprotesters now want the statue of Lee astride his horse to be replaced by a memorial of Heather Heyer.
Fighting may have occurred in Emancipation Park, but now people are going there to reflect, pray and sing songs of hope.
Photos of the violence are now frozen in time, chilling reminders that unleashed hatred can be deadly.
Culprits are being rounded up and transported to jail.
While many throughout the nation were shocked that their president did not immediately and unequivocally name names as he condemned the blatant displays of domestic terrorism in Charlottesville, President Donald Trump’s delayed response has caused a widening of the spotlight to encompass his inner circle. Now there are resounding calls for the removal of suspected white supremacists serving incognito in the White House.
Those suffering from the injection of evil into their midst are standing up to it with righteous indignation. They armor themselves with the cleansing waters of tough love and forgiveness. Christ is their adjuvant for staying healthy and offering revival to those poisoned by hatred.
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Greene was an associate editor for Catholic News Service for nearly 22 years.