On Hate: Charlottesville And Beyond

Dur­ing one more in a long line of racist clash­es in the Unit­ed States, one pro­test­er was mur­dered and at least nine­teen oth­ers injured after a Neo-Nazi from Ida­ho attend­ed the “Unite the Right” ral­ly at Char­lottesville, VA, and pro­ceed­ed to dri­ve his car into the crowd.

A run­ning theme with white nation­al­ists, Neo-Nazis, and oth­er hate groups is they’ve tried repeat­ed­ly to avoid the name they’ve earned for them­selves while still try­ing to per­pe­trate all of the moral and crim­i­nal wrongs his­tor­i­cal­ly asso­ci­at­ed with their move­ments. To vary­ing degrees, they will advo­cate fer­vent­ly in pub­lic spaces for the advance­ment of racism, social seg­re­ga­tion, racist pro­pa­gan­da, hate speech, acts of vio­lence, and even mur­der, but if recent news cov­er­age is any indi­ca­tion, many seem unable to stom­ach the idea of get­ting caught or called out for their dis­gust­ing behav­iour.

This, in and of itself, speaks vol­umes.

Remem­ber — if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, then racist apol­o­gists be damned, it’s a fuckin’ duck.

Amer­i­can politi­cians aren’t doing the world a favour when they fail to name and shame the evil in our midst, or when they fail to pro­vide a time­ly and suf­fi­cient­ly mea­sured insti­tu­tion­al response to a Neo-Nazi ral­ly where peo­ple were being attacked, injured and killed.

When those in pow­er equiv­o­cate and push false equiv­a­len­cies by imply­ing “all sides” share respon­si­bil­i­ty in a sit­u­a­tion where only one side had designed, pro­voked, and ini­ti­at­ed a racist dis­tur­bance, this not only val­i­dates the hate groups and leaves them feel­ing embold­ened by the exchange, it also inval­i­dates every­one who’s been work­ing hard for the caus­es of plu­ral­ism and social equal­i­ty.

US fed­er­al author­i­ties were hap­py to name, shame, blame, and cast doubt on move­ments like the DAPL Water Pro­tec­tors and Black Lives Mat­ter over envi­ron­men­tal and civ­il rights issues, and at the time were not hes­i­tant in the least to meet pro­test­ers with an over­whelm­ing show of force, at all lev­els and on all fronts, by local and state police.

But a Nazi ral­ly where peo­ple are being attacked and killed … sure­ly they’d do some­thing seri­ous about that, right?

Not real­ly.

The video below shows two promi­nent cap­tures from the con­fronta­tion with police in Char­lottesville, the first show­ing ral­ly atten­dees using phys­i­cal force against police and the sec­ond show­ing them steal­ing a police bar­ri­cade:

By all accounts, the com­par­a­tive­ly weak police response may have allowed this non­sense to drag on for far longer than it ought to have last­ed.

This is not the first time author­i­ties have met white suprema­cist forces with an under­whelm­ing response, try­ing to brush events away as a rare, lone-wolf, or fringe occur­rence rather than the orga­nized, orches­trat­ed, clear and present dan­ger it actu­al­ly is.

The fact Pres­i­dent Trump then took two days to respond, using words not his own and not writ­ten by him, deliv­ered in a speech that was more unemo­tion­al than Mr. Spock, should sig­nal there’s a seri­ous prob­lem here.

But it gets worse: Trump has since walked back his con­dem­na­tion by excus­ing the acts of the racists with such ridicu­lous lines as, “You still don’t know the facts.”

The facts are these, Mr. Trump: com­pla­cen­cy and inad­e­quate response on the part of an entire soci­ety, cou­pled with polit­i­cal maneu­ver­ing, intim­i­da­tion, and vio­lence from a pop­ulist minor­i­ty bent on press­ing a hate-dri­ven agen­da, was the path the orig­i­nal Nazi Par­ty rode to pow­er in Ger­many dur­ing the 20th cen­tu­ry. Even today, that coun­try still faces the echoes of Hitler’s ugly lega­cy and is forced to grap­ple with its dan­ger on a reg­u­lar basis. If you’re inca­pable of rec­og­niz­ing or appre­ci­at­ing that, then you’re unfit to lead.

Hitler nev­er had a major­i­ty, either: he sim­ply accu­mu­lat­ed enough fol­low­ers will­ing to com­mit acts of decep­tion, manip­u­la­tion, and vio­lence to fur­ther the party’s agen­da. If we fail to learn from that les­son, and more specif­i­cal­ly if we fail to address the issue of racism and its surges in the US, we have only our­selves to blame when the bot­tom final­ly drops out and the vio­lence begins to fur­ther metas­ta­size from street-lev­el clash­es to entire gov­ern­ment insti­tu­tions, the work­ings of the demo­c­ra­t­ic process, and the rule of law itself.

It’s a les­son that’s been burned many times into the pages of his­to­ry, and in par­tic­u­lar it’s a les­son cit­i­zens and gov­ern­ment should have learned long ago from the hor­rors of the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion. The more peo­ple con­tin­ue to blur lines and ignore cru­cial details, the more peo­ple con­tin­ue to re-brand his­tor­i­cal evils as solu­tions to eco­nom­ic or social prob­lems, the more insid­i­ous the dam­age.

Over the past five years, the state of race and civ­il rights rela­tions in the US has become a strong warn­ing shot across the bow, sig­nalling to many that Amer­i­ca has hit an omi­nous mile­stone in terms of its cul­tur­al direc­tion, if not a poten­tial tip­ping point. Events are com­ing that will test the char­ac­ter, resolve, and con­science of gov­ern­ment and cit­i­zen­ry alike.

Hate groups are plan­ning many more recruit­ment efforts and ral­lies in the months ahead, some of which stand a good chance of becom­ing high-pro­file inter­na­tion­al news events lat­er on.

What will you do when the Neo-Nazis, white suprema­cists, alt-right, and far-right nation­al­ists attempt to export this poi­son to even more cities? Will you accept a “hands-off” approach there, too?

In the long run, the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion might be the last real oppor­tu­ni­ty to kick the racists out of pow­er before things reach a point of no return after which we’re forced to accept the chaos that comes.

If the US can not be tak­en back from the hate­mon­gers now, then the sit­u­a­tion is ripe for a racist pop­ulist move­ment to take over with a dem­a­gogue even worse than Trump even­tu­al­ly being elect­ed to office, and from there it only becomes increas­ing­ly dif­fi­cult to dis­lodge such a move­ment before it does immea­sur­able harm.

Just as Hitler didn’t enter pow­er under a pop­u­lar major­i­ty; nei­ther did the cur­rent infil­tra­tion of US pol­i­tics by a small num­ber of racist indi­vid­u­als and their accom­pa­ny­ing ties to pro-hate orga­ni­za­tions.

All it took was enough peo­ple to sit back, not call a duck a duck, and not get in the way.

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