Sunday, August 13, 2017

In Charlottesville, the Face of Terrorism In the U.S.

Above: Neo-Nazis, alt-right members, and white supremacists, including 20 year-old self-proclaimed white nationalist Peter Cvjetanovic (right), encircle and chant at counter-protesters at the base of a statue of Thomas Jefferson after marching through the University of Virginia campus with torches in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 11, 2017. (Photo: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Following are several progressive perspectives on the Unite the Right rally which took place this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.

This rally was a gathering of far-right (alt-right, neo-Confederate, neo-Nazi, militia, white nationalist, and white supremacist) groups, the members of which were protesting the removal of Confederate monuments and memorials from public spaces, specifically the Robert Edward Lee Sculpture in Emancipation Park.

In the lead-up to the Unite the Right rally, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that it was "shaping up to be the largest hate-gathering of its kind in decades in the United States."

The rally was challenged by counter protesters, including members of Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and Democratic Socialists of America.


On the front lines of Friday night’s “Unite The Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virgina, at the University of Virginia, angry white men with torches flocked to a statue of slave-owning Founding Father Thomas Jefferson. By Saturday afternoon, members of the KKK, neo-Nazis, and other armed militia groups were rallying full force in the streets adorned with Confederate flags and in full Nazi regalia.

Behind them, smaller in number but no less present, stood white women.

For those with an understanding of race relations in the United States, this will come as no surprise.

There were active women branches of the Ku Klux Klan. The white woman who accused 14-year-old Emmett Till of crude sexual behavior – resulting in his gruesome murder in 1955 – recently admitted she’d lied about what happened. As recently as Nov. 8, 2016, 53 percent of white woman voted to support the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, despite his use of racist and sexist rhetoric.

While there were undoubtedly more white men at the “Unite the Right” rally, which was organized by neo-Nazi Richard Spencer, it is essential that we recognize that white women have always benefitted from white supremacy, and therefore played an integral role in upholding it.

White supremacy is indeed rooted in racism and misogyny – but white women have historically enabled racism even if it came with the cost of misogyny, and on Saturday in Charlottesville, many yet again chose to maintain their white privilege by choosing subordination to white men over solidarity with people of color.

– Jenavieve Hatch
Excerpted from "It Wasn't Just White Men
Who Participated In the 'Unite The Right' Rally
The Huffington Post
August 13, 2017

I'm not going to make any bones about it. I place a lot of the blame for what you're seeing in America today right at the doorstep of the White House.

– Michael Signer, Mayor of Charlottesville
Quoted in Rachel Roberts' article, "Donald Trump Accused of
Inflaming Racial Tensions Amid Violent Clashes in Charlottesville
The Independent
August 13, 2017

The United States is in a tailspin. White supremacists are on the march – and have left a trail of blood and destruction in their wake. A march in Charlottesville, Virginia, filled with torches, Nazi flags and chants of “White Lives Matter,” culminated in violence that claimed at least one life, and left many more injured.

This is just what many feared the Trump presidency would unleash. David Duke, the former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, supported that view when he said on Saturday that the march “fulfills the promises of Donald Trump” to “take our country back.”

The president was slow to disabuse people of that view. When the nation turned to the president on Friday to condemn the unrest provoked by the Unite The Right far-right rally, he instead blamed “many sides.” In other words: he lumped together anti-racist protesters with white supremacists.

It took more than 36 hours – and a killing believed to have been carried out by a Neo-Nazi – for the White House to denounce them. Although the president prefers to communicate directly with the American people through Twitter, he didn’t do that this time. Instead, the delayed statement was attributed to an unnamed White House spokesperson.

None of this makes sense. Unless, that is, we come to grips with the reality that we are seeing the effects of far too many Americans strung out on the most pervasive, devastating, reality-warping drug to ever hit the United States: white supremacy.

– Carol Anderson
Excerpted from "America Is Hooked On the Drug
of White Supremacy. We're Paying for That Today
The Guardian
August 14, 2017

At a time when such ugliness took place in the hometown of founding father Thomas Jefferson, Trump had a golden opportunity to condemn the violence and speak out against the white supremacists and white nationalists, many of whom supported him in the election against Hillary Clinton. The country needed the leader of the nation to forcefully call out these ugly – and un-American – interests.

. . . The country needed to hear the president specifically condemn white supremacists and make clear to them that while they have a First Amendment right to express their views, their hatred and bigotry run counter to the values of the United States. There will be no toleration of violence.

On Saturday, President Trump failed his country.

– The Editorial Team
Excerpted from "Amid the Violence in Virginia,
President Trump Failed In a Test of Leadership
Daily Dallas News
August 12, 2017

Trump’s reaction to events in Charlottesville was alternately trite (“come together as one”), infantile (“very, very sad”) and meaningless (“we want to study it”). “There are so many great things happening in our country,” he said, on a day when racial violence took a life.

At one level, this is the natural result of defining authenticity as spontaneity. Trump and his people did not believe the moment worthy of rhetorical craft, worthy of serious thought. The president is confident that his lazy musings are equal to history. They are not. They are babble in the face of tragedy. They are an embarrassment and disservice to the country.

The president’s remarks also represent a failure of historical imagination. The flash point in Charlottesville was the history of the Civil War. Cities around the country are struggling with the carved-stone legacy of past battles and leaders. The oppression and trauma that led to Appomattox did not end there. Ghosts still deploy on these battlefields. And the casualties continue.

But Trump could offer no context for this latest conflict. No inspiring ideals from the author of the Declaration of Independence, who called Charlottesville home. No healing words from the president who was killed by a white supremacist. By his flat, foolish utterance, Trump proved once again that he has no place in the company of these leaders.

– Michael Gerson
Excerpted from "Trump Babbles In the Face of Tragedy"
The Washington Post
August 12, 2017

Our country is one of free speech and open debate: about our policies, our priorities, the best solutions to our ills. The First Amendment applies to all, even vile white supremacists. But when it comes to accurately describing what they are and what they do, and when it comes to assigning blame – yes, blame – for the consequences of their actions, there aren’t many sides to the issue. There is good, and there is evil. There are those who represent our country’s values, and those who stand against them. There is domestic terrorism, and there are its targets.

As the leader of our nation, our president should know that some conflicts don’t deserve forbearance or false equivalence. There weren’t many sides in Charlottesville. There were two. Through his cowardice, complicity and unwillingness to confront what he has enabled, President Trump has chosen the wrong one.

– Christine Emba
Excerpted from "There Are Only Two Sides
to Charlottesville. Trump Is On the Wrong One
The Washington Post
August 12, 2017

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe did what President Donald Trump could not on Saturday. He flat out denounced the white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other bigots who caused chaos in the streets of Charlottesville this weekend. In a press conference, the governor told the fascists that they were not wanted in the “great Commonwealth” of Virginia. “Shame on you,” he said to the protesters, for showing up and hurting people.

In his remarks, McCauliffe also commended first responders, clergy members and others who were involved in managing the incidents caused by the neo-Nazis and white nationalists. He also commended the “courageous” students at the University of Virginia who surrounded the statue of Thomas Jefferson to protect it from the Nazis who gathered bearing torches on the campus.

– S. Nicholson
Excerpted from "The Governor of Virginia
Just Said What Trump Refuses To Say
Revere Press
August 12, 2017

The “Unite the Right rally” stopped being a rally sometime Friday night when a stream of torch carrying White supremacists arrived at night to the University of Virginia campus chanting “blood and soil.” They used those torches as weapons in fights with counter-protesters.

On Saturday, NBC said, “Charlottesville rally turned deadly.” CNN said, “1 dead, 19 injured after crash near Unite the Right rally.”

What took place was not a rally. Who wears paramilitary gear and carries automatic weapons to a rally? Who takes shields and helmets and pepper spray and bats and sticks to a rally? The car didn’t “crash”— it was driven at full speed into a crowd of counter-protesters.

What happened in Charlottesville was White nationalist extremists inciting a riot.

We cannot unite, come together, overcome, Kumbaya, or whatever else, until we get some truth-telling. Media professionals need to get it right this time.

It is also the responsibility of those of us who are anti-racist not to be silent in this time. Call out every media outlet that is soft-selling White supremacy and sidestepping the ugly truth.

Nothing less is acceptable. This milquetoast coverage lets White nationalists off the hook, even when the dithering commentary comes from President Trump.

His statement about being against violence “on many sides” stopped short of calling out the domestic terrorism of the White men who carried out acts of violence on American citizens today. Walking away when you’re asked if you denounce these actors is the definition of cowardice.

– Alana Horowitz Satlin
Excerpted from "Charlottesville Was Not a 'Protest Turned Violent,'
It Was a Planned Race Riot
August 13, 2017

President Trump’s mealy-mouthed mutterings on the terrorism let loose in Charlottesville on Saturday are worthy of the hypocrite and instigator of hate that he has proved himself to be. Trump knows what was at work on those streets and who was behind it. As well he should. They are some of the same forces that helped to put him in the White House.

On hand giving the clan of white nationalists a verbal boost was former Ku Klux Klan leader and preeminent white nationalist David Duke. Just as the bigoted Duke was on hand on election night exclaiming on social media that Trump’s victory was “one of the most exciting nights of my life.” Duke tweeted at the time, “Make no mistake about it, our people have played a HUGE role in electing Trump.”

And Duke’s people – Trump’s people, also – were out in force in Charlottesville with their hate-filled minds, their guns, and a weaponized automobile.

That was your crowd down there in Old Virginia, Donald Trump.

They were speaking your language, vomiting your sentiments, acting out what animates you from within.

Don’t act as though you don’t know them. They believe and expect you are working to “take back America” for them, because you are of them, just as just they know – as do you – that they gave their all for you.

So why are any of us the least bit surprised that Trump’s devoted clan of white nationalists would be so emboldened as to brazenly emulate their klan forbears and take it to the streets? One of their own reached the White House, with their help. It’s enough to make an old Confederate proud, and a present-day white nationalist as arrogant, reckless and dangerous as can be.

– Colbert I. King
"These Are Your People, President Trump"
The Washington Post
August 12, 2017

Above: A car ploughs into a crowd of counter-protesters in Virginia, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others, five critically. The driver of the car has been identified as James Alex Fields, Jr. (Photo: Associated Press)

Not everyone who voted for Donald Trump is an unapologetic bigot who moderates Stormfront message boards in their spare time. But everyone who voted for him – who saw him speak and heard his rhetoric and believed in his vision for the future – did so understanding exactly with whom they were aligning themselves. For millions of Americans, the fact that their candidate happily courted votes by appealing to the most despicable impulses among us was not a deal-breaker, and the violence that might result from his decision to give those people a voice was a risk they were willing to take.

Today is the first terrorist attack to occur on this president's watch, but it did not come at the hands of that one religious group he denigrates at every opportunity, and whose adherents he wants desperately to ban from entering the country. Instead, it was committed by people who have been living among us all along, quietly waiting for an opportunity that, at long last, has arrived. Hate has always existed in America. Donald Trump just made it fashionable again.

– Jay Willis
Excerpted from "Charlottesville Is the America
That Donald Trump Promised
August 13, 2017

The 45th presidency of the United States is cosmic karma for this nation's failure to rectify the original sins of racism and white supremacy that continue to define our society.

Today is a clear example of how racially motivated attitudes and acts of terror animate sizeable segments of Americans. Denying this reality only widens and infects the wounds of institutionalized and systemic racism that debilitate the United States.

The fate of one is the fate of all.

Phillip Clark
via Facebook
August 12, 2017

We need to see these Americans in Oxford shirts and polos brandishing ridiculous WalMart bamboo tiki torches to fully understand that racist fascists aren't always visibly caricatures and grotesques, they are the average "normal" Americans who worship in and run Christianist evangelical and Mormon churches, school boards, chambers of commerce, local civic associations, GOP statehouses, charter schools, the NRA, the Boy Scouts, and of course the GOP from one end of Pennsylvania Avenue to the other.

They're in many ways normal, or rather I should say everyday people – just as Hannah Arendt observed they were in Nazi Germany. Our nation is full to the brim with everyday traitors to the true ideals and promise of America. Traitors who deserve the ignominy and obliteration that progressives must fight for.

What to do? One simple thing is to support the Southern Poverty Law Center (aka Klan Watch). The Klanwatch Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center was formed in 1981 to help curb Klan and racist violence through litigation, education and monitoring. Click here to support them.

Jim Landé
via Facebook
August 12, 2017

Related Off-site Links:
Look at What Is Happening in America in 2017 – Jenna Amatulli (The Huffington Post, August 13, 2017).
Seven Things You Need to Know About the Charlottesville Violence and White Supremacist Terror Attack – Ben Shapiro (The Daily Wire, August 13, 2017).
Far-Right Groups Surge Into National View in Charlottesville – Richard Fausset and Alan Feuer (The New York Times, August 13, 2017).
Charlottesville: Man Charged with Murder Was Pictured at Neo-Nazi Rally – Jason Wilson (The Guardian, August 14, 2017).
Trump Walks Away From Reporters After Being Asked to Denounce White Supremacists – Sean Colarossi (PoliticusUSA, August 12, 2017).
Amid the Violence in Virginia, President Trump Failed In a Test of Leadership – Editorial Team (Daily Dallas News, August 12, 2017).
We Need to Stop Acting Like Trump Isn’t Pandering to White Supremacists – German Lopez (Vox, August 13, 2017).
How Trump Has Cultivated the White Supremacist Alt-Right for Years – Ben Mathis-Lilley (Slate, August 14, 2017).
What We Need White Allies to Do About the White Supremacists in Virginia – Lara Witt (Wear Your Voice, August 12, 2017).
Sr. Helen Prejean Offers Advice on Activism in the Wake of CharlottesvilleMillennial (August 13, 2017).
Neo-Nazi Violence in Charlottesville Reawakens the Resistance – Ty Moore (Socialist Alternative, August 14, 2017).

UPDATES: Trump Yields to Pressure, Calls Neo-Nazis and KKK Criminals – Scott Malone and Jeff Mason (Reuters, August 14, 2017).
Ex-KKK Leader David Duke Has Meltdown After Trump Condemns White Supremacists In Charlottesville – Hayley Miller (The Huffington Post, August 15, 2017).
Trump Bashes "Alt-left," Again Saying Two Sides to Blame in Charlottesville – Ashley Parker and David Nakamura (The Washington Post, August 16, 2017).
The Viral Vice Documentary Was the Perfect Rebuke to Trump’s Charlottesville Remarks – Leon Neyfakh (Slate, August 17, 2017).
How the Police Failed in Charlottesville – Alex S. Vitale (The Nation, August 15, 2017).
Why Can’t White Supremacists Confront the Fact That the Source of Their Economic Problems Are White Economic Elites? – Steven Rosenfeld (Salon, August 18, 2017).
The Complete List of Racists – Michael Harriot (The Root, August 17, 2017).
Confederate Statues Were Built to Further a "White Supremacist Future" – Miles Parks (NPR News, August 20, 2017).
Tens of Thousands March Against White Supremacy in Boston and Other U.S. CitiesDemocracy Now! (August 21, 2017).
Tens of Thousands of People Just Showed Nazis (and Donald Trump) What Really Makes America Great – Brandon Ellington and Jamilah King (Mother Jones, August 19, 2017).
Radical Self Love Through Activism: On Confronting Fear Post-Charlottesville – Anita Dharapuram (, August 18, 2017).
rump’s White Nationalist House
Jonathan Chait (New York Magazine, August 20, 2017).
Stop Acting Surprised by Extremism, America
Zain Abidin (The Baltimore Sun, August 22, 2017).
Anti-racism Activist Tim Wise: After Charlottesville, Time for White People to Say, “By God, You Don’t Speak for Me”
Chauncey Devega (Salon, August 25, 2017).
“Fascism at Our Door”: Asked to Condemn White Supremacist Groups, Trump Tells Them to “Stand By” Instead – Jon Queally (Common Dreams, September 29, 2020).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Trump's America: Normalized White Supremacy and a Rising Tide of Racist Violence
On International Human Rights Day, Saying "No" to Donald Trump and His Fascist Agenda
Progressive Perspectives on the Election of Donald Trump as President of the United States
Election Eve Thoughts
Carrying It On
Progressive Perspectives on the Rise of Donald Trump
Trump's Playbook
"Can the Klan!"

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