Otis Sanford: Haters didn’t win in Middle Tennessee

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The demonstrations in Middle Tennessee over the weekend were a sober reminder of the stark divisions that exist in our nation.

What could have resulted in violent confrontations between racist hate groups and counter protesters ended up being nothing more than shouting matches. Credit for the relative calm goes to local and state police who collaborated to keep the two sides far enough apart to avoid serious trouble.

The good thing is those who were spouting racist chants were far outnumbered by counter demonstrators who showed up in Shelbyville and Murfreesboro to stand up to the hate.

Yes, even neo-Nazis, the KKK and other white nationalists have the First Amendment right to free speech and freedom of assembly despite words from Governor Bill Haslam that the groups were not welcome in Tennessee. And it's absolutely true that some of our political leaders at both the national and state level are responsible for much of the racial and social division playing out in the country.

But despite the hateful rhetoric, the racist symbols and bullying tweets, I firmly believe that most of America stands united against racism, against discrimination and certainly against these wannabe Nazis and Klansmen who deserve both scorn and pity.

Thankfully, we did not see another Charlottesville this weekend, and the pathetic voices of a small number of haters did not win the day.