Father disowns his alt-right son after the rally in Charlottesville
A father has publicly disowned his son for upholding racist beliefs following his involvement in last weekend's white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia where three people were killed and 19 others injured.
Violence broke out early on Saturday morning after hundreds of white nationalists descended on the city to protest against plans to remove a statue of the Confederate General Robert E Lee. A series of violent clashes erupted, the most deadly of which saw 20-year-old white supremacist, James Alex Fields plough his car into a group of counter-protestors, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19. Fields has since been charged with second-degree murder.
Whilst US President Donald Trump denounced the violence immediately, he did not initially condemn the actions of the white supremacist groups. Only on Monday afternoon did he issue a statement saying, "Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs."
Others however, came out in droves to disparage the intolerance of such divisive groups, including Pearce Tefft, the father of one of the "avowed" white nationalists who were involved in the protests.
Peter Tefft from Fargo, North Dakota was one of the neo-Nazi protestors to have his identity uncovered after a weekend of violence in Charlottesville. Peter's father, Pearce Tefft was promoted to speak out and condemn his son's actions and affiliations.
"I, along with all of his siblings and his entire family, wish to loudly repudiate my son’s vile, hateful and racist rhetoric and actions," Pearce wrote on behalf of his entire family in an online letter.
The letter which was later published on Inforum also detailed that Peter will not be "welcome" at Tefft family gatherings until he has "renounced his hateful beliefs".
Read the letter in its entirety below:
"My name is Pearce Tefft, and I am writing to all, with regards to my youngest son, Peter Tefft, an avowed white nationalist who has been featured in a number of local news stories over the last several months.
"On Friday night, my son traveled to Charlottesville, Va., and was interviewed by a national news outlet while marching with reported white nationalists, who allegedly went on to kill a person.
"I, along with all of his siblings and his entire family, wish to loudly repudiate my son’s vile, hateful and racist rhetoric and actions. We do not know specifically where he learned these beliefs. He did not learn them at home.
"I have shared my home and hearth with friends and acquaintances of every race, gender and creed. I have taught all of my children that all men and women are created equal. That we must love each other all the same.
"Evidently Peter has chosen to unlearn these lessons, much to my and his family’s heartbreak and distress. We have been silent up until now, but now we see that this was a mistake. It was the silence of good people that allowed the Nazis to flourish the first time around, and it is the silence of good people that is allowing them to flourish now.
"Peter Tefft, my son, is not welcome at our family gatherings any longer. I pray my prodigal son will renounce his hateful beliefs and return home. Then and only then will I lay out the feast.
"His hateful opinions are bringing hateful rhetoric to his siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews as well as his parents. Why must we be guilty by association? Again, none of his beliefs were learned at home. We do not, never have, and never will, accept his twisted worldview.
"He once joked, 'The thing about us fascists is, it’s not that we don’t believe in freedom of speech. You can say whatever you want. We’ll just throw you in an oven.'
"Peter, you will have to shovel our bodies into the oven, too. Please son, renounce the hate, accept and love all."
Pearce Tefft's actions are a reminder of how important it is for allies to unite and condemn the actions of those who are committed to spreading hate and further marginalising communities that have historically faced institutionalised and systematic prejudice.
As Tefft states at the end of his letter, it is up to us to "renounce the hate" and "accept and love all".