Yesterday, the world watched as "white nationalists" marched through the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, to protest taking down a statue of Robert E. Lee. To paraphrase a friend on Facebook -- Since when do we celebrate losers in this country? Lee lost the Civil War. The Nazis lost WWII. It isn't about patriotism, it's racism.
Lest you doubt that claim, let's put aspects of this "protest" to a test -- what would have happened if people of color (POC) took to the streets in this manner? Oh, wait -- they *have* taken to the streets -- in a peaceful manner -- and met with riot police, arrested simply for being there, pepper sprayed -- and the media's efforts to accurately report on them were thwarted by blocking them from the scene, and arresting reporters who refused to leave.
Yesterday's rally was not benign -- we are talking about people who took to the streets brandishing fire. According to a report by NPR: "For hours on Saturday, white nationalists — some helmeted and carrying shields and Confederate flags — clashed with counterprotesters, some wearing "Black Lives Matter" t-shirts. Hundreds of people threw punches and beat each other with sticks, hurled water bottles and unleashed chemical spray, according to The Associated Press." That last sentence wasn't about what the police did to the protestors, it was what happened while they sat idly by and did nothing.
There is no sitting by, with a bowl of popcorn, watching the posts and comments fly by on Facebook, Twitter, discussions over the water cooler/dinner table. If you truly believe that what is happening is wrong, you have to stand up and say so. You have to show up to protests and vigils when you can. You have to make it *entirely clear* that you do not condone the actions of people who look like you, saying they are patriots. Anything less than clear, forthright communication is complicity.
Let me repeat that -- if you say NOTHING right now, you might as well be adding your voice to those who are hateful and violent and racist.
Make no mistake, doing nothing is not an option anymore. We HAVE to be willing to lose friends over this. We HAVE to speak up. Racism isn't changed by POC, it's changed by white people. There's no being silent anymore. If you're silent, you're complicit. To those who are saying "this stuff happened under Obama," yeah, it did -- cause these people are hateful racists. But the amount and severity of these incidents has SHARPLY increased since 45 was elected. -- Me
We need to stop talking about the "alt-right" and "white nationalists." Alt-right sounds like someone is just a mega-conservative. This isn't about right-wing politics. It is about hate. Nothing more, nothing less. White nationalists make it sound like it's about (white) people who are passionate about their country. What they are is people who want white people to see POC eliminated from this country, one way or another. You know who else believed the white race was superior to all others, and systematically eliminated everyone who didn't fit his idea of perfection? You know. It's Hitler.
What used to be an outrageous way to inflame an argument, is now actually the plain truth. "Nazis" should have never have been used to described grammar prescriptivists, people selling soup, or women who believe that feminism is a thing that cannot remain silent, but must be fought for every day until women and men are equal. None of those groups are Nazis. Not even close.
But this group of people? Wielding torches and threatening violence (directly and subtly). Claiming that white people are naturally superior to others. Making it known that they are willing to go to any lengths to see their vision come to fruition? Whether they explicitly refer to themselves as pro-Nazi (as some have), they are all walking in the shoes of the SS*.
If you still think I'm making too much of a small thing, let me ask you to search in your hearts and ask yourself this:
Heather Heyer, a white woman who came out to counterprotest the "Unite the Right" rally, was killed by a white man who rammed his car into a group of protestors. She's DEAD. Her life taken because she was participating in her right to peaceful assembly. Someone -- James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Maumee, Ohio, -- took it upon himself to remove protestors by using his car like a weapon, and being successful in taking a woman's life.
But a WHITE woman. Why isn't anyone rising up? Why aren't people loudly condemning this action? Why does there seem to be no concern that the rally ended up killing a white woman? I keep referencing her race, because these people wouldn't blink if a POC was injured/killed. Yet, one of "their own?" And they still can't muster up the decency to call this murder out.
Sadly, I know why no one is calling out things like the beating of Deandre Harris -- steps from the police department. It's because he's Black, and the racists just don't care.
I'll end with a quote from another friend on Facebook, that quite eloquently and vividly describes what we're working with here:
This isn't just elderly folks, or carry over intolerance from a fading generation. It's college kids. It's working professionals. It's high school kids. It's folks younger and older, who have access to all sorts of information and knowledge, yet choose hate anyway. It's people in the 'next generation' that believe non whites are inferior, and not entitled to the most basic of human decency.
This is not ok. This is not some fringe element. These are folks who aren't hiding in the shadows. They're in the open. They're neighbors on your street. They go to your church. They play on your sports teams. They are your co-workers. They don't have hoods. They have hate. They despise people of color. They don't like 'political correctness' because they want to use the 'N' word whenever/wherever they want.
They want all the white privileges. They feel justified. They're manipulated by a perceived fear. They're swayed by hateful rhetoric. They dress up like the national guard and roam the streets with guns to intimidate. This isn't about 'freedom'.
They do not want to engage in intellectual dialogue. You are either with them, or against them. Period.
Well I'm all the fucking way against them. Fuck the KKK. Fuck Neo-Nazis. Fuck white supremacists. The ideology that binds them is trash. Their 'leaders' are trash. David Duke is out there shaking hands like he's some sort of icon? Nah.
But they're out there. They stay out there. It's not a secret. It's the part white folks don't like to talk about. We can't just pretend it's 'only a handful' of people. It's enough to be a problem. One we collectively need to understand is still a problem [my emphasis].
*Wikipedia: Commitment to SS ideology was emphasized throughout the recruitment, membership process, and training. "Members of the SS were indoctrinated in the racial policy of Nazi Germany, and were taught that it was necessary to remove from Germany people deemed by that policy as inferior."
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