A Moderate response to Charlottesville

August 18, 2017

Let's set the audience for this up front. The ideal audience for this post are regular folks that might have seen President Trump's remarks about "both sides" being "to blame" for the violence in Charlottesville. And that there are "good guys" on both sides as well. That's wrong and that's not a truly moderate response. Read on if you like.


I've been publically silent on most race matters and I've got some ideas why. One is that I feel discomfort that we have to have the conversation at all as a society. Two is that I feel woefully underprepared and from that unpreparedness I will do or say something wrong and once it's in the public, God knows you can't backtrack, right? (He said with sprinklings of truth, sarcasm and trepidation). But, if I waited until I was fully ready to do anything, I’d never get anything done. Also, there seems to be a ton of people who are also woefully underprepared and have NO PROBLEM talking about race.

Also, I really wanted to post a joke about sour cream and I couldn't in good conscious do that without first addressing Charlottesville.


Seems odd to have a hot take on processed dairy and not have a hot take on injustice.


A centrist is one that finds the middle ground between two apparent sides of an issue/argument. A moderate is one that typically finds the middle (or often unexplored) ground among a broader spectrum of ideas regarding an issue. A moderate will transcend the apparent extremes of an argument - at least that's what I believe philosophically and politically. 


I consider myself a moderate... not a centrist. It's an important distinction to make. To me, it's as important of a distinction that libertarians use to distinguish themselves from republicans or that democratic socialists use to distinguish themselves from democrats.


Centrists seek to borrow ideas and appease in order to propagate the perception of objectivity over the extremes in the moment without accounting for historical context. "... they didn't put themselves down as neo-Nazis, and you had some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people on both sides."


To an actual moderate, the current extremes are insufficient because history and context has provided the moderating force in the argument. The false current extremes of alt-right and alt-left are far too constrictive for an educated decision that takes into account 400 years of oppression.


Regarding the President's statements on Charlottesville: He's dead wrong. He tried to take an objective centrist position by blaming both sides. He did this because it was easier. He could see that there was a fight (which typically involves two parties)… I mean… after all… if there’s an alt-right, there has to be an alt-left, correct? But the issue of responsibility is sort of the crux of his comments - Trump calls it "blame." We will do well to not conflate “blame” and “involvement.” Many people are involved but in the case of erupting violence and death, one side clearly gets the "blame". You’ve probably seen the meme of allied troops landing on Normandy beach, indicating that many sides were “aggressively involved” but only the Nazis are clearly responsible.

And just like in 1944, the responsibility for the violence in Charlottesville rests on the shoulders of those who advocate for a separation of the races, a supremacy of one race over all others, and a willingness to initiate physical harm (as evidenced by the automatic guns, shields, torches, clubs, and knives) – the Nazis. They are the ones responsible for the physical and emotional violence in Charlottesville.


Back to moderation; why is this the moderate position? Because this is a conversation that is larger than what is isolated to Charlottesville. The moderating force in this discussion is time, history, enlightenment, and a legal framework that has guaranteed the same rights to everyone. Now, whether or not those “guaranteed” rights are applied and enforced the same way is a different conversation. True moderates would advocate more cultural integration because we understand that more exposure to differences makes for a better outcome in all aspects of society.


I guess my point is going forward, I'm going to endeavor to separate “moderation” from “centrism” but more than that, I’m making known my stand against racism and my stand on the side of diversity because of the understanding that exposure to consistent differences is what makes for a better, a more human, and a more moderate society.


I can't even remember my joke about sour cream now.



I can’t even remember my point about sour cream.

Please reload

Riley Evan Ross
Speaker and Writer Moderation Blog

I speak and write on the topic of moderation because I believe that a thorough re-examination of moderation can help our societies build change resilience and grow together.

  • Instagram - Black Circle
  • Twitter - Black Circle
Search By Tags

I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!

Please reload

 Proudly created with Wix.com

  • Instagram - Black Circle
  • Twitter Black Round