Will We Let Hate Rise Again?

 

In the wake of Charlottesville my heart aches as I stand astounded by the hate and destruction on full display.  What seems clear to me is, inexplicably, nebulous to others.  The hate and violence has been rising for over a year.  It is hard to miss, but it seems many still do.  Information overload may be partially to blame as we now live in a world where lying, contradictions and multiple crises come at us constantly.  Sadly, it is clear that many people have checked out.

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Let’s lay out some facts.

All of the white supremacist groups in the USA (the various neo-Nazis, the KKK, etc.) supported Trump for president.  Trump has never initially denounced them.  He has offered some weak words when called on this fact.

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, the Attorney General of the United States, was deemed too racist in 1986 to be a federal judge.  He is on record as saying the Civil Rights act is not constitutional.  Coretta Scott King provided strong testimony in 1986 that was squashed in 2017 by Mitch McConnell.  It is interesting the government standards for racism have suddenly become more lax after 31 years.

Since becoming AG, Sessions has

  • Killed many, if not all civil rights suits that were in motion.
  • Ended suits related to police oversight and assistance where police brutality and violence has been found
  • Refused to take on any new cases related to police brutality
  • Has spoken out against legal immigration

A mosque was bombed in Bloomington MN, the president of the United States has not commented on it.  He only commented on a similar event in Canada when he thought it was done by a Muslim.  When it was learned that it was done by someone who supports him and white supremacist groups, he became silent.

A man drove a car into police in France (ultimately. with ISIS taking credit).  The president of the United States could not condemn it as terrorism fast enough a before the facts were known.  After 2 days, he still has not directly commented on the car driven into to counter protesters at a White Supremacist rally in Charlottesville, killing one and severely injuring many more.  The man arrested is known to be a supporter of white supremacist groups.

The rally in Charlottesville started with a torch march, reminiscent of KKK marches.

Many of the members of the Charlottesville march work flak jackets and military gear.  They carried guns, clubs, and other weapons.  Many wore the iconic “Make America Great Again” red hats.  They also wore Nazi and Confederate symbols.  Ostensibly, the point of the rally protest the removal of the statue, honoring the confederacy, of Robert E. Lee.  This was not a rally.  This was a flashpoint intended to be violent.  Thinking otherwise is naïve once you see how locked and loaded, ready for violence the protesters were.

The civil war was indeed fought to end slavery.  The south lost and slavery was eliminated.  As a compromise a few years later, the south was allowed to enact the various Jim Crow laws, which effectively became Slavery 2.0, as Blacks were considered less than whites.  As the rally showed, many still feel that way.

As of this writing, the president of the United States has never really called out Nazi’s and White Supremacists.  In fact, he has 3 in his administration: Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and Seb Gorka.

As of today, there are 917 Hate Groups being tracked by the Southern Poverty Law Center.   Our government wants to ignore those run by whites, like the KKK.

Here we sit.  I believe I have all the above facts straight.  We allow free speech.  But you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater – it is dangerous.  Perhaps, like Germany, we should consider the type of hate speech that is being bandied about by Breitbart, the Daily Stormer and even Fox News as dangerous.  I believe in free speech, but perhaps we’ve gone too far if we’ve allowed everything we fought for in WWII to spring back to life and become a serious threat to our democracy.

The president of the United States did offer some wishy washy comments on Charlottesville.  The Neo Nazi’s celebrated those comments.  I include one here, showing the joy at least one member feels at being supported.

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Since writing the previous paragraph, the president of the United States after waiting 2 days for an aide to write him a stronger speech, made a more pronounced condemnation of white supremacists and their kind.  These were words written for him.  The words he chose on Saturday did not condemn anyone.  He spoke his truth on Saturday.  Today was what happens when smart politicians convince a racist he needs to say something else.  As Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”  That was the non-condemnation.  That was every speech and dog whistle he has made for the last 2 years.  The racists are still celebrating.

So great, we have a problem.  We have lots of problems, where do we start?  What next?  As rational human beings, we need to prioritize what is and isn’t important to us, yet many of us keep our head in the sand.  Do you really know what is happening? Do you care?  If you don’t care and don’t act, you are silently supporting the hate.  Feel free to disagree with me, but if you aren’t calling out the hate and aren’t in some way trying to make the world a better place, you are one less barrier the racists have to worry about.

The more I read and pay attention, the more I realize I know nothing.  I took 2 friends from the south wine tasting a while back.  It opened my eyes.  Afterward, they were emotional because it was an experience they didn’t they could ever have.  They were treated with respect.  Their questions answered without judging their experience.  For me, it was what I expected, but they were moved.  And yes, they are African American. We talked about how they are commonly treated as second class citizens.  I do not claim to know their experiences. I do not believe it is right to suddenly don the mantle of Social Justice and eradicate the behavior to which many minorities are subjected.  Noone has nominated me to be in charge.

But I can be aware.  I can make sure my words and deeds are consistent.  I can call out the casual racism around me.  I do not have to sit by and make sure that family and friends are comfortable in their intolerant attitudes and actions.  I’m not going make a big deal, but I refuse to sit by silently any longer.  People will feel uncomfortable.  Learning is uncomfortable.  Let’s be clear, I’m far from perfect. I’m sure I have a few tendencies and views that need to be modified.  A great journey starts with one step.  Where will your journey start?

What else can we do?  Quite a lot, actually.  I write this to relieve the pressure in my brain and the sadness each new day brings.  I don’t write this to shame anyone, but to provide viewpoints and education.  Hold yourself accountable.  We have a race problem in this country, are you doing anything to help or are you hoping someone else does something for you?  Are you making it easier for racism to flourish around you?

Will you change the channel the next time the news shows you a police officer has killed an unarmed black man like Philando Castile? Or when rogue police officers railroad a teacher to jail because of not using a turn signal like Sandra Bland, who died a mysterious death in jail?  Contrast that with Dylan Roof, who was treated relatively gently while being arrested for murder -the murder of several African Americans in a church.  Will you continue to believe that Black Lives Matter is a terrorist group as Fox News wants you to believe?  Or will you be open to the fact that it is common for the Police to kill unarmed black men and face no consequences.  On one hand we have the police holding African Americans to a higher standard of behavior, while simultaneously they are not help accountable for their actions.  Shouldn’t more of us be outspoken about this?  Or would you rather condemn the quarterback that knelt in protest?  Seems like the focus is entirely in the wrong place for many.

We need to hold our elected representatives accountable.  What are they doing to both end the hate and increase the understanding of our different cultures?  I am appalled that our Justice Department wants to sue colleges for discriminating against whites because of Affirmative Action.  It is ludicrous, but since the AG is a clear racist, what did we expect?  We need to put legislators in place that will uphold our values, the values of the America that is a melting pot, taking in immigrants and refugees without regard to their wealth, their job or their ability to speak English.  Unless you are Native American, your ancestors were immigrants too.  I’m pretty sure many of mine didn’t speak English.  I intend on understand and pushing my local representatives on their agenda to improve racial inequality.

A first key step is to understand white privilege.  Being Jewish, I’m not white, but I’m close enough to have plenty of privilege.  I watched a friend and her son reflect back on their first “talk” when he was 5 or 6.  The talk young black men get to help them understand how to act around authority and not be killed by the police.  They continued on the first time he was really hassled and cuffed by the police at 13, because he must have been a thug.  I’m pretty sure I behaved no differently than this man in my younger years, but I have never been hassled by the police, let alone put in cuffs in the back of a car.  I’ve never made sure I was below the speed limit, so I couldn’t be pulled over randomly.  I most certainly never worried about a broken taillight or headlight.  But then to a drive passing by, I’m white.  This is white privilege in the simplest of terms.  If you are white, you have it.

The next time you see a person of color doing something different than you would do, change the context.  How has their life been different than yours?  What hardships have you avoided so you make different choices?  If they are being treated unfairly will you watch silently or will you walk away? What will it take to move you to action? What are you going to do to build a bridge and make this a better world?  It is no longer enough to wait for someone else to do it.

Finally, I leave you with the final status post of Heather Heyer. She was killed as a result of the terrorist act of driving a car into the crowd in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017.  “If you aren’t outraged, you’re not paying attention.”

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3 Comments

  1. Leslie

     /  August 14, 2017

    well thought out and courageous… I think we all need to stand up and not tolerate hate. The loudest voices we can muster when it counts. Protecting each other when it comes to bigotry, sexism, and all the other ugly isms. Doing what is right means looking for the real under dogs and supporting them at all costs when it matters.

    Reply
  2. Great post. I think it is incredibly dangerous to limit free speech, even if we consider it hateful. We need dialogue. Banning words or images will only entrench these ignorant people further into the depth of their hate-filled ideologies.

    Check out my latest post on Charlottesville and the rest of my political vibes https://political-vibes.com/ I would greatly appreciate a follow if you’re interested and I would love to respond to comments

    Reply
  3. Mary

     /  August 14, 2017

    I have been horrified since the current president was running for office-calling for hatred, violence, his opponent to be murdered. His choices for his cabinet has made me scream and cry from anger. I’ve signed petitions, called and sent emails to my representatives and senators and all of them in general. I still find bias in myself and it makes me sick, been rooting that out all my life. I’m thinking that everyone he and everyone he has put in ANY position should be tried for treason and breaking all Federal laws regarding discrimination. Nothing good will come from DC as long as this bunch has one word to say about anything in this country

    Reply

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