A Charlottesville Protester Was Filmed In A Johnny Cash T-Shirt. His Daughter Spoke Up.

"Johnny Cash was a man whose heart beat with the rhythm of love and social justice."

The family of late music legend Johnny Cash refuse to allow their father's legacy to be associated with the hatred on display at the recent White nationalist rally in Charlottesville. When one of the protesters was interviewed on Fox News while wearing a T-shirt with Cash's name on it, they spoke up.

Cash's eldest daughter Rosanne Cash shared a message on her Facebook page Wednesday — signed jointly with her siblings Kathy Cash, Cindy Cash, Tara Cash, and John Carter Cash — which condemns bigotry and emphasizes that Johnny Cash, who passed away in 2003, would be "horrified" to see his name connected with such beliefs.

"We were alerted to a video of a young man in Charlottesville, a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi, spewing hatred and bile," the post reads. "He was wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the name of Johnny Cash, our father. We were sickened by the association."

"Johnny Cash was a man whose heart beat with the rhythm of love and social justice," the family's message continues, citing the singer's outspoken stances against the Vietnam War and gun violence, and for the rights of Native Americans and prisoners, as well as his awards for humanitarian work. "His pacifism and inclusive patriotism were two of his most defining characteristics. He would be horrified at even a casual use of his name or image for an idea or a cause founded in persecution and hatred."

"The white supremacists and neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville are poison in our society, and an insult to every American hero who wore a uniform to fight the Nazis in WWII," the family wrote. "Several men in the extended Cash family were among those who served with honor."

The statement also makes note of something Cash told his children often:  "Children, you can choose love or hate. I choose love." They added that they "do not judge race, color, sexual orientation or creed."

"To any who claim supremacy over other human beings, to any who believe in racial or religious hierarchy: we are not you," the post concludes. "Our father, as a person, icon, or symbol, is not you. We ask that the Cash name be kept far away from destructive and hateful ideology.

The family's message has received a positive response on social media, including from CNN host Jake Tapper, who shared the statement on Twitter and added, "God bless the family and the memory of Johnny Cash." One follower responded with the lyrics to Cash's 1971 song "Man in Black," in which Cash sings that he dresses in black for the disenfranchised, and in mourning "for the lives that could have been."

ABC News points out that Cash also had a 1983 song called "God Bless Robert E. Lee." The planned removal of a statue of Lee from a public park was a focus of this weekend's protest. However, the song is about the Confederate general's decision to surrender, thereby ending the Civil War and preventing further deaths. "So this song is not about the North or the South but about the bloody brother war," Cash says in the song. "Brother against brother father against son the war that nobody won. And for all those lives that were saved I gotta say God bless Robert E. Lee."

Cash's family are not the first to speak out against an association with the far-right groups who participated in the Charlottesville rally. A man giving what appeared to be a Nazi salute (it was reportedly a KKK gesture) while wearing an 82nd Airborne Division hat received a response from that very division of the Army, famous for fighting the Nazis in World War II. The division tweeted that "anyone who thinks this man represents our culture and values has never worn the maroon beret... and never will."

The involvement of neo-Nazis in Charlottesville is also incredibly personal for many counter-protesters, including 89-year-old Marianne Rubin, held a powerful sign in New York City that read, "I escaped the Nazis once. You will not defeat me now."

Cover image via Shutterstock / Hayk_Shalunts.

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