We are a school that values discourse. We honor informed, impassioned, and even divergent debate. We seek to find ways to engage ideas and thought with energy and respect. What occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia this weekend, however, was what has been called “a blatant and vile display of racism and anti-Semitism.” Hate speech is not free speech. Marching with nooses, reminiscent of the hundreds and thousands of lynchings in the past is a cynical and violent misuse of the claim of the freedom of speech. To march with the intention of harassment and intimidation is deplorable.

As President of The Seattle School, I condemn it wholeheartedly and unequivocally. The Mayor of Charlottesville said, “The nation is speaking with one voice of what they saw here and what needs to happen next.” Hate speech that incites violence is not free speech that leads to discourse.  I remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” As a student of history, I find it reprehensible and shocking to see not only vestiges but also a renewal of calls for the violence of white supremacy, racism, neo-Nazism, fascism and the deplorable movement of the Ku Klux Klan. These things can only be called evil in our culture.  

As we move into the beginning of a new school year, this community will choose to face the evil of this event through education, respect, discourse and commitment to the kingdom of God. May we be those who speak the fierce truth of Jesus in the fierce love of the living Christ. May we embody a spirituality of our own repentance even as we call it forth from others.