It was hard to dispassionately watch and read the news last weekend, as groups of neo-Nazis and counter protesters clashed on the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia. One woman was murdered. Two police officers died in a terrible accident.

That much anger, hate and violence is hard to stomach, and it surely left Americans across the country seething on their couches as Nazi and Confederate sympathizers marched angrily through our public space.

There were dozens of major issues at play in Charlottesville, and we could write a tome on each and every one.

But we would like to expand on just one small fact that can hopefully find universal agreement: You can either be an American, or you can be a Nazi — you can’t be both. You cannot call for the overthrow of America’s core principles and still call yourself a patriot.

Photos of protesters waving American, Confederate and Nazi flags are incongruent. Those governments — their principles and their history — are opposites, enemies. They opposed each other, they warred against each other.

Take just the historical facts: The Confederacy waged war against the United States, the bloodiest and deadliest war this country has ever fought. To wave those flags together, and to support and glorify Confederate generals and members of the Confederate government, is anti-American.

And to all those who think removing those flags from public spaces and tearing down such statues is “erasing history,” don’t be so obtuse. Germany would not be stupid enough to allow monuments and statues to Nazis to remain standing — they were long ago unceremoniously destroyed. Yet as we can see, knowledge of Nazis and their history has not been erased — it has been so well studied and documented that most citizens are crystal clear on what the swastika stands for. And what it stands for is undergoing a resurgence here in America.

There is no reason a patriotic American would tolerate or promote Nazi ideals. It’s the flag of a government that declared war on the United States, that killed hundreds of thousands of our brave soldiers and millions of their own people. A government that turned the world to war, too.

We have freedom of speech in this country — even for Nazis. It’s one of the perversions that reminds us of our principles. But the allowance should never be confused with acceptance. The anti-American ideas and speech that was on display in Charlottesville should be challenged everywhere they raise their ugly head.

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