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A father has spoken out against the “twisted worldview” of his son, who attended Saturday’s neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville.
In an emotional open letter, Pearce Tefft wrote that his son Peter was “not welcome at our family gatherings any longer” after the young man supported a far-right protest that saw anti-fascist campaigner Heather Heyer, 32, mown down and killed by a car.
He wrote in the letter, published by Fargo newspaper The Forum, that his son would have to “shovel our bodies into the oven, too”.
Peter Tefft was identified by Twitter account @YesYoureRacist as one of the neo-Nazis attending Saturday’s far-right demonstration against the removal of a Confederate statue.
Peter then gave an interview to regional network Valley News in which he described himself as a white civil rights activist and remarked that “race is real, race is fundamental to our identity, and race and culture should be preserved”.
Pearce Tefft wrote in the letter that he did not know where his “avowed white nationalist” son picked up his “vile, hateful and racist rhetoric and actions”, but that he did not learn them at home.
“I have taught all of my children that all men and women are created equal. That we must love each other all the same,” he wrote.
“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.”
He added that his son would be welcome if he relinquished his racist views, writing: “I pray my prodigal son will renounce his hateful beliefs and return home. Then and only then will I lay out the feast.”
In a phone interview to The Forum, Pearce said he handed a copy of the letter to Peter when the young man returned from the rally in Charlottesville.
He said Peter – who has said he is a supporter of US president Donald Trump – had started expressing ultra-nationalist sentiments about two years ago, and that these views had possibly been “bolstered” by praise from other far-right supporters.
Politicians and other prominent public figures have slammed Mr Trump’s apparent reluctance to rebuke neo-Nazi groups in the wake of the tragedy on Saturday in which at least 19 people were injured.
It was not until Monday that Mr Trump spoke personally to specifically condemn far-right extremists, saying: “Racism is evil … Those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
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