Today marks the one year anniversary of the death of Heather Heyer - a forgotten American for many who stood up to the bigotry and racism of white nationalists in Charlottesville, VA. Heather will be "forever 32" as an avowed white neo-Nazi used his car as a weapon and drove into a group of counter protesters standing up to those carrying Nazi flags and torches spewing divisive rhetoric filled with racial epithets.
One would think that it would be a slam dunk for a leader to denounce bigotry and note that in our diverse society, there is no excuse for that kind of behavior. But that ad lib, "...on many sides, on many sides," had just the opposite effect. Heather's mother had received a call to meet with the president at the White House but upon hearing his caveat for vile conduct that resulted in the loss of her daughter, she refused the invitation. The ad lib also stirred other political leaders on both sides of the aisle to condemn the tolerance displayed for the neo-Nazi contingent of Americans who yelled over and over, "We will not be replaced."
That sentiment is an expression of fear. Fear that somehow the diversity of the country will somehow jeopardize the rights of a dwindling majority. A majority that will within a short time no longer be in the majority, replaced by people of color - brown people with Latin heritage. I've heard that kind of argument not only in the U.S. but also in Europe in countries that found themselves not that long ago living under the suppression of fascist dictators - specifically Poland and Italy. Hungary - under the thumb for many years as a Soviet bloc country also have politicians who have professed to keep their "purity." Ann Coulter noted in a tweet that the only true "European" country in ten years will be Russia. That's code-speak for Russia's ability to maintain white purity (in its western region) as other countries like France, England and Germany are now filled with people of color. If you travel to the East in Russia, such as the port city of Vladivostok, you will find ironically a wide diversity of people living in harmony. As to our oldest ally, France, you merely need to look at a photo of the winners of the Fifa World Cup and you'll find a team - a very good team - filled with a rainbow of colors. Recently I even heard how the Czech Republic has maintained their European roots successfully by not allowing refugees access to that country - a country that not that long ago was under the thumb of the Nazi regime and then the Soviet empire. I also heard that Austria, a country that has offered to accept refugees, is now not quite the Austria of past years and has lost some of its luster. I immediately reacted to that also as "code." Purity is something of the past and for those who continue to pine for it, they're living in the past.
So today, take a moment to remember Heather Heyer who lost her life one year ago today and pray that more people will GO DO GOOD and stand up against bigotry, racism and that which is truly not a reflection of what it has meant for years to be American.
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