Monday, August 14, 2017

Charlottesville

An umbrella grouping of right wingers, including but not limited to college Republicans, neo-Nazis, Alt-Right supporters, neo-Confederates, white nationalists, and others descended on the University of Virginia campus at Charlottesville over the weekend to protest the planned removal of the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, military leader of the most violent rebellion in U.S. history, and proud slave owner and white nationalist. This was part of their Unite the Right program, which as you might imagine is designed to rebuild the Right into more of a pure expression of white nationalism and separatism. Some would probably argue that the Right doesn't have too far to go in that regard anyway. Shouting such catchy slogans as "White Lives Matter" and "Jew will not replace us" along with all of the normal racist and anti-Semitic slurs which are common for them, the white nationalists scuffled with police. But of course the police were not the true target of their hatred.

The white nationalists had come ready for a fight, or had rather come ready to hurt people since almost none of them appeared interested in a fair fight. They assaulted counterprotesters of all colors with bats, sticks, fists, and poles, apparently particularly the black ones of course. In a move that was grabbed from the ISIS playbook one of the terrorists, James Alex Fields, also deliberately drove a car into a crowd of counterprotesters, wounding several and killing one Heather Heyer. Despite all of this violence coming from the right, President Trump could not and did not manage to specifically condemn the white supremacist violence. He only mumbled something about condemning the bigotry coming from all sides. 


We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides," Trump said during a short statement from his private golf club in New Jersey.
LINK

To borrow a Facebook phrase from one of my high school classmates, this Trump statement makes about as much sense as an announcement that New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady just won the Stanley Cup by making a five point field goal in the bottom of the third period of the eleventh inning. It's beyond senseless. It's stupid. Its literally like saying when the Klan attacks and its victims fight back that you're opposed to violence on both sides. What the ****? In fact Trump's statement was so lacking in specifics and basic moral standing that Merck CEO and Chairman Kenneth Frazier, a black American who you know has seen some shady stuff over the years in white corporate America, decided that he could no longer be associated with Trump in any fashion. Frazier resigned from Trump's American Manufacturing Council. In typical boorish fashion Trump was more agitated and demonstrative about Frazier's resignation than he was about murder and mayhem committed by his voters.
Merck chairman and CEO Kenneth Frazier said he was leaving Trump's American Manufacturing Council, arguing U.S. leaders must "clearly reject expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy." "Our country's strength stems from its diversity and the contributions made by men and women of different faiths, races, sexual orientations and political beliefs," Frazier said in a statement that did not mention Trump by name.

"America's leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal," he continued. "As CEO of Merck, and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism."



As Klan leader and Nazi David Duke put it, Trump had better remember that racist whites put him in office. One can quibble about the exact numbers but certainly Trump seems to think that Duke has a point. Trump has gone out of his way not to call a spade a spade. Remember when Trump and company would make a big stink out of Obama's refusal to use the phrase "radical Islamic terrorism?" Well now the shoe is on the other foot. We have a President who simply can't bring himself to say that he opposes "White supremacy" or "White racist terrorism". He's sympathetic to their way of thinking. If Trump can't even say the words "White supremacist violence" how can he hope to solve the problem? Once again this gives the lie to the asinine idea that the Confederacy was or reverence for the Confederacy is based on anything other than white supremacy. The people that came to Charlottesville to hurl insults and attack their fellow citizens weren't motivated by love of low taxes or antebellum tax policy. They see white identity and the Confederacy as inseparable. They see whiteness as being under attack. 

Most of them simply don't think that non-whites have any business in North America, certainly not as citizens with equal rights. Ideally many of those people would like to send many American citizens to foreign homelands based on their race or religion, peaceably if possible but violently if necessary. Obviously they would like to start with Blacks and Jews. 


There is an interesting line of argument which people on different sides of the political spectrum accept or reject depending on which party is being discussed. The hard liberal argument on radical Islamic attacks in Europe or elsewhere tends to be that the majority needs to do a better job of reaching out to the Muslim minority.

The majority shouldn't fall into the temptation of demonizing or insulting Islam in general because that will just play into the hands of radical Muslims by eliminating the middle ground and making it impossible for reasonable Muslims to side with non-Muslims. Also if we insult Islam than even reasonable Muslims will be more tempted to join up with radicals or at least not turn them in when they show violent tendencies. The conservative/centrist response to this argument is to say that if Muslims are so sensitive that they can't take a little criticism without blowing things up then perhaps they shouldn't be in Western countries in the first place.


Of course without seeing any irony many white conservatives and not a few white liberals will then pivot and argue that too much of modern liberal discourse treats whiteness as a disease. In reaction to this then more whites are willing to vote for Trump and/or turn a blind eye to the sort of white racial terrorism that we saw over the weekend. Frank Bruni and Mark Lilla have written on this epistemology of identity. They would argue that demonizing whites in general is a bad idea for some of the reasons discussed. I would argue that no one should be demonized or praised for immutable characteristics. But I don't think that the hatred displayed in Charlottesville has too much to do with smug liberals saying snarky things online or in New York Times editorials. I think that falls into some of the political masochism which some liberals seem to love. I think that's just not based on any evidence. The Charlottesville incident is is a pure distillation of hate that predates the most recent election cycles. You don't beat people in the head with poles or run them over with cars because you're upset with those wacky metrosexual coastal elites looking down on you. You do all that because you were looking for a reason to vent your hatred.

This is about the the old seeds of racism and hatred bearing new bitter fruit anew. The suspect in the car attack was a Hitler fan. How the f*** can you be a Hitler fan? Why didn't any of the suspect's clergy or relatives bring this man's issues to the relevant authorities. If he were a non-Christian and/or non European descended individual those are certainly the question people would be asking. Trump uses his "all sides" dodge to avoid answering the question of why so many avowed racists voted for you? Why do they like you so much? Why does David Duke claim to be acting in your name? The truth is that Trump played to white resentments to get elected. It certainly wasn't the only reason he got elected. And racists weren't the only people who voted for him. But Trump obviously shares some of those resentments. So he's not capable of speaking out against that mindset. We are a pretty low point in the U.S. when the President of the United States watches Nazis attack people and can only mumble that he's opposed to all sides being violent. Disgusting.It was also disgusting to watch police refuse to use deadly force against violent Nazis. We're really living in interesting times.
blog comments powered by Disqus