As the nation, watched, horrified, a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville turned deadly when one of the men attending the rally drove his car into a crowd, resulting in many injuries and the death of activist Heather Heyer.
A common response to the Charlottesville violence has been: “What can I do to help make this better?”
For most of us, the answers to that question include calling our representatives, attending protest marches, denouncing racism and white supremacy, and donating money to organizations working to eradicate hate in Charlottesville and America at large.
For people like Arnold Schwarzenegger, he’s putting his money where his mouth is in a big way. Schwarzenegger released a statement on his Facebook page this past weekend simply titled, “Charlottesville.” In it, the former California governor expressed heartbreak at the loss of life and images of Nazis marching openly in the streets, and addressed the alt-right protesters directly.
“While these so-called ‘white nationalists’ are lucky to live in a country that defends their right to voice their awful, incorrect, hateful opinions, the rest of us must use our voices and resources to condemn hate and teach tolerance at every opportunity,” he wrote. “My message to them is simple: you will not win. Our voices are louder and stronger. There is no white America – there is only the United States of America. You were not born with these hateful views – you can change, grow, and evolve, and I suggest you start immediately.”
Schwarzenegger also announced a monetary donation to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a human rights and anti-hate organization dedicated to researching the holocaust and the evolution of hate in modern times.
“I know that my contribution can help advance the Center’s mission of expanding tolerance through education and fighting hate all over America—in the streets and online,” Schwarzenneger wrote. “My dream is that all of you will join me in helping your favorite anti-hate organizations in any way you can.”
Schwarzenegger is one of many celebrities who have spoken out in response to Charlottesville and President Trump’s ensuing claim that “many sides” were responsible for the violence.
Other high-profile pledges have been made in the wake of Charlottesville. Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that the company would be donating $2 million to human rights organizations by the end of September.
“What occurred in Charlottesville has no place in our country,” Cook said. “Hate is a cancer, and left unchecked it destroys everything in its path.”
Schwarzenegger hopes his gift sparks similar acts of generosity, and that together, we can make a real difference in mending the country’s wounds and moving forward.
“United,” he said, “we are greater than the hatred we saw this weekend.”