These are images from Charlottesville, Virginia on Friday night.
These are white people in their twenties and thirties. Like me.
These are people who are in my generation, the millennial generation, the one frequently lambasted for “participation trophies” and “needing safe spaces.”
These are people that look like my coworkers, my colleagues, my brothers, my cousins. People I know and love, who also have white skin and wear polo shirts.
These are people who, like I was, were raised on a diet of Sesame Street and Mr. Rodgers’ Neighborhood, which teaches tolerance and understanding of others. They’ve probably seen the Indiana Jones films, where punching Nazis is considered a virtuous act. These are my actual demographic peers in the United States of America, which means that these are people who sat through the unit on the second world war in their history class and looked at images of concentration camps and gas chambers and burning books and Anne Frank’s attic and still thought, well, hang on, maybe those Nazis had some interesting ideas.
These are people who chanted “Jew will not replace us.”
These are people who yelled “The heat here is nothing compared to what you’re going to get in the ovens.”
These are people who didn’t even bother to wear hoods.
What does it say that in 2017, I’m struck by the fact that the Ku Klux Klan members at least shielded their faces so that no one could identify them? That the same type of societal pressure apparently no longer exists today? That these people feel comfortable espousing the rhetoric of racist, genocidal maniacs in a public space that was widely photographed and broadcast?
My anger is bigger than my ability to write, but I’m going to try to say this as succinctly as I can.
White nationalism is morally indefensible. This is not a point that is up for discussion.
If you are willing to give these people the benefit of the doubt, you are complicit in the rhetoric of racists and bigots. Playing “devil’s advocate” is unacceptable.
I am not willing to listen to one more interview or read one more article about the “economic anxiety” of the American racist.
If you disagree with the central premise that white nationalism is evil and morally wrong, then I have no words for you. May God have mercy on your soul.
If you can identify that this is evil and wrong, ask yourself why these men (and more than a few women) are angry. Why? What has provoked these people to buy a bunch of Wal-Mart tiki torches and scream Nazi slogans at a Confederate statue?
Imagine for just one second that these protestors were black.
You want to tell me your problems with Colin Kaepernick and why you think Black Lives Matter is a racist slogan? I’m not interested. If you think that Philando Castille or Mike Brown could have just “handled it differently” and they wouldn’t have died? Imagine for one second that a mob of angry black people descended upon a public space with torches, screaming about wanting to kill those who didn’t look like them. Compare the crystal-clear images of these white men with the tear-gassed protestors from Ferguson.
This is a country where racists are empowered.
You failed to read all of those stories over the past five years from women on the internet, like Brianna Wu and Anita Sarkeesian and Lindy West? You thought those “feminists” were just “overreacting,” that there was no such thing as actual harassment from an internet troll, that their desire for online speech to have consequences when it devolved into doxxing and threats was a muzzle on free speech?
You still think that Hillary’s problems had nothing to do with the fact that she was a woman?
Welcome. This is a country where sexists are empowered. They’ve been on the internet terrorizing women for years. This is what they look like when they leave their computer screens behind.
I am no longer interested in anyone’s opinion that the Confederate Flag is merely a symbol of local heritage.
This is your heritage now.
I am no longer interested in your hot take on “economic anxiety.” On “giving President Trump a chance.” On “identity politics are ruining the country.” On “reverse racism.” On “all those swastikas drawn on buildings after the election were just put there by liberals trying to give conservatives a bad name.” I am no longer here for a peaceful discussion with the “other side,” when the “other side” believes that my inherent worth and humanity, and anyone else who doesn’t look or think similarly, deserves to be frightened, tortured, expelled, or harmed.
Women, people of color, religious and ethnic minorities, disabled people, gay people, trans people, and members of other marginalized groups in this country asked for their civil rights and their humanity to be respected. When you hear that the “left” are the “truly intolerant,” please remember that this is the face of the right today.
This is domestic terrorism. This is what it looks like.
I am no longer interested in anyone trying to tell me that being frightened of angry white men is ‘racist’ when angry white men commit the vast majority of violent crimes in our country.
At the time of publication, many hours after these incidents, the President of the United States had yet to condemn this behavior.* This is not surprising information to literally anyone who has spent a scintilla of time on the internet — in Reddit’s /theDonald, in Alex Jones’ InfoWars channel, in the comment section of Breitbart, in any number of places where the overlap between nationalist views, white supremacist views, misogynistic views, xenophobic views, homophobic views, and Donald Trump’s political agenda is less of a Venn Diagram and more of a circle. The President of the United States was elected by dog-whistling to these views.
KKK leader David Duke is currently in Charlottesville ebulliently giving interviews claiming that this rally “fulfills the promises of Donald Trump.” For once, I agree with David Duke about something.
This is the natural byproduct of a racist, sexist president. This is the legacy of a racist, sexist country.
My fellow white Americans, do you see it? Do you see it now?
I am editing this post to add information that I think is important. I struggled to write it earlier, and couldn’t quite find the words. This writer did.
I think he says it better. I’m including it in its entirety.
Imagine if these people faced actual oppression.
Nobody is trying to legislate away their right to marry.
The law never…
Enslaved their great-grandparents
Robbed their grandparents
Imprisoned their parents
Shot them when unarmed.
There is no massive effort at the state and local level to disenfranchise them of the vote. There is no history of centuries of bad science dedicated to “proving” their intellectual inferiority. There is no travel ban on them because of their religion. There is no danger for them when they carry dangerous weapons publicly.
Their churches were never burned. Their lawns were never decorated with burning crosses. Their ancestors never hung from trees.
Their mothers aren’t being torn away by ICE troopers and sent away forever. They won’t be forced to leave the only country they ever knew. The president has not set up a hotline to report crime committed at their hands.
They are chanting “We will not be replaced.” Replaced… as what?
I’ll tell you.
Replaced as the only voice in public discussions. Replaced as the only bodies in the public arena. Replaced as the only life that matters.
THIS is ‘white people’ oppression: We used to be the only voice. Now we hold the only microphone. THIS is ‘white man’ oppression. We face criticism now. We were free from it, because others feared the consequences.
THIS is ‘oppression’ of white Christians in this country. Christmas used to be the only holiday acknowledged, now it’s not.
I would so love to see these people get all the oppression they insist they receive, just for a year. Just to see.
Give them a world where you ACTUALLY can’t say Christmas. A world where the name “Geoff” on a resume puts it in the trash. Give them a world where they suddenly get a 20% pay cut, and then 70 women every day tell them to smile more.
Give them a world where their polo shirt makes people nervous, so they’re kicked off the flight from Pittsburgh to Indianapolis.
Give them a world where they inherited nothing but a very real understanding of what oppression really fucking is.
Give them a world where if they pulled up on a campus with torches lit and started throwing hands, the cops would punch their eyes out. Put THAT in your Tiki torches and light it, you sorry Nazi bitches.
** Yes, the President has, since I wrote this post, put out a weak-sauce tweet denouncing these events in the most vague of terms. Know how I know that it’s weak and vague? Richard Spencer, the Nazi responsible for this, has trolled it so effectively that we understand that it could apply to literally any side of this argument. Behold:
For the back of the house: no, all Trump voters are not white supremacists. YES, all Trump voters were comfortable electing a white supremacist to the highest office in the nation. This tweet is weak because the President doesn’t want to upset the members of his base because the members of his base are either okay with this or they are the very tiki-torch-lit assholes pictured above. These are guys wearing MAGA hats. These ARE the faces of your base. This IS the same rhetoric that Trump has always espoused. It’s Racism Classic™, now with Extra Tiki.
If you need further proof that the President doesn’t actually seem to care very much that this is happening in his name in his country, please enjoy this side-by-side comparison of the President’s stance on white supremacist Nazis versus his strong condemnation of sharks.
** Edited a second time to add: the President of the United States, after one person has been confirmed dead after a car deliberately drove into a group of anti-racist counter-protestors, has just condemned these violent acts “on many sides.”
This is literally the same as saying that he condemns the violent actions of Nazis, as well as the groups protesting the Nazis.
All I’m saying is that if violent acts are happening in your name and endorsed by David Duke and perpetrated by people waving signs with your name on it and wearing hats with your catchphrase on it, after you have asked Jeff Sessions and the department of Justice to stop investigating white supremacist terror groups exactly like this one, and all you can say is “I condemn this on many sides” rather than “stop doing this in my name” or “white supremacy is not tolerated in this country” or without using the phrase “domestic terrorism,” you’ll have to forgive me for drawing the logical conclusion that the President of the United States, in choosing his words carefully so as not to offend a racist, torch-wielding mob, gives more fucks about the feelings of actual Nazis than anyone or anything else. If you’re willing to speak “off the cuff” about North Korean missile strikes or classified intel or fallen soldiers or disabled reporters or Gold Star families but recognize that your words have impact when you’re worried about offending ACTUAL NAZIS, may you and every single person who ever defended you feel a shame that burns hotter than any collection of tiki torches.
Originally published on “I Am Begging My Mother Not To Read This Blog.” Reprinted with permission.
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