What would you do if your child grew up to be a white supremacist? North Dakota dad Pearce Tefft penned a letter to his son Peter Tefft to condemn his decision to be part of the Charlottesville white nationalist rally, asking his “prodigal son” to leave behind his repugnant beliefs and come home.
“I have shared my home and hearth with friends and acquaintances of every race, gender and creed,” Pearce Tefft wrote. “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.”
On radio Wednesday, Glenn read the father’s heartbreaking letter and played a startling clip of white nationalists chanting “Jews will not replace us” at the Charlottesville rally over the weekend. What do you do if your own friends and family embrace these racist views that rightly horrify most people?
“What is happening?” Glenn asked incredulously. “Listen to the chants of what these people are saying.”
ZACH GIBSON/AFP/Getty Images
STU: This tweet, Glenn, to @worldofStu on Twitter: Wow, Glenn’s monologue sounds like Winston Churchill, Gandhi, Jesus and Hulk Hogan got spliced together.
The perfect explanation for the first half-hour.
GLENN: A little Randy “Macho Man” Savage thrown in as well today.
I want to read a letter from a dad, a dad of a guy who saw his son on television interviewed while he was holding a torch in Charlottesville. The dad is — lives in Fargo, North Dakota. He and his family are now being — their lives are being destroyed in their hometown for the actions of his son.
Isn’t that the reason why we came here in the first place? That you did not have to pay for the sins of your name? That you were an individual and you could stand on your own 2 feet and be judged by your actions? That you weren’t — you didn’t get ahead of life because of your family name?
Everyone had to earn it themselves. I want to tell you a — I want to read this story to you, and I want you to put yourself — take all politics out of it. And I want you to put yourself in this dad’s shoes.
I’ve never worked harder in my life on anything, including this job, than I have on my children. I have worked — I — I was foolish and stupid and reckless and really thought, you know, “I have to do these things and, you know, the Lord will work it out,” with my older children. And he has. I am so blessed they both live next to us. And, you know, we are so close. And I love them to death. And they love their father, thank God. And they love their mother, and they love their stepmom.
But I woke up a few years ago, and I’ve tried so hard with my children, knowing that my children could slip through my fingers and become — could become monsters. Because the world is such a dangerous place.
They could lose their soul. They could lose everything, just by the wrong friends, the wrong series of events.
My name is Pierce Tefft, this dad writes on Facebook. I am writing to all with regards to my youngest son, Peter Tefft, an avowed white nationalist who’s been featured in a number of local news stories over the last several months.
On Friday night, my son traveled to Charlottesville, Virginia. He 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, wished to loudly repudiate my son’s vile, hateful, and racist rhetoric, and his actions. I don’t know specifically where he learned these things and gained these beliefs, but he did not learn them at home.
I have shared my home and my 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 they have to love one another, all, each of them the same.
Evidently, my son Peter has chosen to unlearn these lessons, much to my and his family’s heartbreak and distress. And we’ve been silent up until now. But we now see that that 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. And 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, nephews, as well as his parents. Why must we be guilty by association?
Again, none of these beliefs were learned at home. We do not, never have, 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 the oven.”
We’ll just throw you in the oven? Peter, you’re going to have shovel our bodies into the oven too. Please, son, renounce the hate. Accept and love all.
Did your friends go insane? Did your family members go insane? Because this one did.
But did he actually go insane? What is happening? What is happening? Could you please play, Pat, the chants that was going on with the guys who were, you know, holding the tiki torches. Listen to the chants of what these people are saying.
VOICE: Jews will not replace us! Jews will not replace us! Jews will not replace us!
GLENN: Jews will not replace us.
VOICE: Blood and soil! Blood and soil!
GLENN: Blood and soil. Blood and soil.
Do you know anybody that agrees with that? Do you know anybody that agrees with that?
Because I don’t. Do you know anybody who isn’t shocked and horrified, even by the Nazi symbol?
We have, because of the museum, we have artifacts from the Nazis. Those artifacts don’t even come into my home. And every time I have shown someone an artifact of that — I have a friend whose museum includes pin number one. That means the Nazi pin, the little pin, lapel pin. Number one belonged to Adolf Hitler. I have yet to meet anyone on the right or the left, that have seen that pin and didn’t recoil back. Nobody has said, “Ooh. Can I hold that?” I’ll pick it up and move towards them and say, “This was Adolf Hitler’s pin.” Every single time, they move away from it. Every time.
It’s a lie. It’s a lie that if you don’t — if you don’t condemn Donald Trump, that you are just like the Nazis.
Here’s the other lie: And this is the hardest one for anybody to get over. There is a feeling in today’s world. And it’s always like this. That softness is weakness. And that — and that loud is strength. It’s not.
We — the antidote to our society — what’s poisoning us right now is, what? Hatred. What is the antidote to hatred? It’s love. It’s not more hatred. It’s love.
It’s not — it’s not anger. It’s not violence. It’s not mob justice. It’s love.
And nobody wants to hear this. But if you’re not actively pursuing love, peace, kindness, healing, understanding, you are part of the problem.
And I don’t mean that to condemn you. I mean that to be a message from history. And if you don’t think that understanding and healing and love works, then you’re going to have to revisit the story of Gandhi and Martin Luther King and — and Abraham Lincoln.
It doesn’t mean that you don’t stand up for what is right and you defend what is right. It means, with malice toward none and charity toward all. Abraham Lincoln was not an angry guy. He was not a guy who was like, “Yeah, and I’ll tell you another thing they did.” That’s not how we won. That would have destroyed the country. He had to stop his own vice president. In the second inaugural address, when the — when the vice president stood up and was like, “Yeah, and I’m telling you what, we’re going to take the South, and we’re going for reparations,” Abraham Lincoln had to tell him, “Sit down. Go home.”
We need fierce determination. We need a dangerous unselfishness as Martin Luther King said. If the options that you believe we have to choose are between black supremacists, Antifa, on one side, and on the other side, the KKK and the Nazis — and they’re on the right. Then I’m telling you, those are false choices. And I’ve never liked to stand right in the mushy middle. But I’m telling you, the only place to be is the middle. Because if that’s on one side and the other is the Nazis, then I need to be the furthest away from both of those. And the only place then to be is in the middle. We all need to gather in the middle and say, “I don’t want either of those choices.”
And if your party and your friends and your media choice is making any excuses or ignoring the facts about either side or playing, “Well, what about,” it is high time you get new friends, you get a new party, and you get a new media source.