An incident of terrorism at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one woman dead and dozens of others wounded has many of us questioning how deep hate runs in America.
The August 12 gathering was disgusting enough; a "Unite the Right" protest bringing together some of the most bile-filled white nationalists in America, spurned on by the words and actions of their hate-mongering president.
But the racist rally turned deadly when a car driven by a 20-year-old white supremacist ploughed through dozens of counter-protesters, killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring at least 30 more.
In the aftermath of this horrible incident, much speculation has been made about whether Canadians are immune to violent incidents of domestic terrorism.
The answer, of course, is no. Canada has its own fair share of white-supremacist groups and, although our borders shield us from a racist American president and some of the repercussions of a nationalist movement swelling just below us, we are not safe from them.
An important question right now is: what can we do as Canadians to stave off the hate that fuelled the tragic events in Charlottesville?
We can start by speaking out and fighting against it. That does not mean resorting to violence being touted by the "punch a Nazi" movement. Instead, it can be achieved by the type of community mobilization we saw in 2014 when racist anti-Chinese posters were put up around Powell River.
The immediate response to the hateful actions of someone hiding behind a photocopier and bad grammar was impressive. The cowardly act of hate speech and racism was denounced and community forums were held to discuss the issue, thanks to the efforts of Powell River Diversity Initiative.
Another important element to fighting hate is to challenge racist comments from people who are often fearful and/or ignorant of what they do not fully understand. A little education can go a long way.
Hatred left unchecked and unchallenged will grow and fester. The violent events in Charlottesville are now a constant reminder that fighting hate is paramount to a functioning society, and freedom of speech comes with the hope that those with the most intelligence, love and compassion will always have the last word.
-Jason Schreurs, publisher/editor