There have been a lot of insightful pieces written about Charlottesville, some of which I’ll link to down below. But the image above is what captures what’s been in my head since the horrifying images started posting over the weekend. I’ll admit my stereotype: the image in my head of the uncloaked Nazi sympathizer has been uneducated and poor. I’m not talking about “casual racists,” the kind that will start a sentence with “I’m not a racist, but . . .” or lower their voice when talking about the black/Latino/Muslim/etc. family next door — those kind are at every demographic! — but the violent, [citronella] torch bearing, balloons-of-urine-throwing, Nazi-armband-wearing types I envisioned had more of a Duck Dynasty aesthetic.
Wrong. So, so wrong.
These men and women look like the folks down the hall from you at the office, like members of the frats and sororities or even your professors from your alma mater. As Jay Willis wrote, “Hate has always existed in America. This president made it fashionable again.”
We’ve been hearing and saying that the Trump campaign and now presidency has emboldened the racists/Nazis/white supremacists to come out of their Internet forums and into the mainstream, and there have been countless examples of this. Let there be consequences to this. If you choose to be a part of a march meant to incite fear in non-whites – especially one that is violent – you should be outed to all. Your community should be aware, your family, employer, school, the world. (And thanks to the amazing work being done by @YesYoureRacist — but it’s going to take a lot of effort to out thousands of white people.)
I am beyond done with the false equivalency that Trump and others espouse, particularly when it is so glaringly hypocritical. Let us replace the descriptor of this march with any other group acceptably stereotyped as violent. Frankly, we don’t have to think that hard to make the comparison. How are Black Lives Matters protests treated? Right now you have two of BLM’s leaders being sued for “inciting” the violent actions of one black man who acted alone, despite not even being in the same city as the incident. You have Fox News chyrons referring to BLM as a “murder movement.”
But let’s play the false equivalency game at a different angle. As a Muslim, every time some asshole shouting Allahu Akbar does something terrible, even if it’s on the other side of the world, I hear about how Muslims don’t do enough, we didn’t issue enough condemnations, yada yada yada. It’s a load of crap of course, but let’s play that game: hey white people, go deal with your cousins! Of course it’s great to lend your support to all of the local organizations supporting minorities, whether it’s your mosque, black church, synagogue, minority-owned business, etc. But TALK TO EACH OTHER TOO. We know it’s uncomfortable to talk about other white people you’ve never met doing horrible things in the name of your whiteness. But, as I naively discovered, some of those white people with whom you’re talking might harbor those same feelings as the terrorists in Charlottesville. They’re definitely not going to listen to me, but they might listen to you.
Not sure what to say? Check out the amazing resources available from Standing Up for Racial Justice. There are local chapters around the country too, so join up or look into starting your own if one isn’t available.
And yes, call the perpetrators of the violence in Charlottesville terrorists. As we continue with the game of false equivalency, let’s remember how important it is call things by their proper names, right? Just recently, Deputy Assistant to the President Sebastian Gorka was on MSNBC stating the following: “[Calling it radical Islamic terrorism] jettisons the political correctness of the past eight years, and we call the enemy for what it is. We don’t say they’re unemployed people and they just need more jobs . . . You cannot solve a problem unless you are allowed to talk truthfully about it. So, we will call them ‘radical Islamic terrorists,’ we will target their ideology, and we will call them out for being evil.” Hear that, everyone? Call the enemy for what it is: Radical White Terrorism.
Five Minutes of recommended reading:
- This entire thread about collective racial violence by Dr. Walter D. Greason of Momouth University.
Why Won’t Trump Call Out Radical White Terrorism? – The Atlantic
- Charlottesville and the Effort to Downplay Racism in America – New Yorker