While we don’t want to hand over power by letting worthless and cowardly white supremacists feel that they actually got to us, it’s undeniable that the recent scenes from the rally in Charlottesville, VA were upsetting. Not upsetting in a, “Well, whoda thunkit? Racism isn’t dead” sort of way, but goddamn my naive, privileged white ass genuinely thought that things had been getting better since, y’know, the 1950s. I had been blissfully wandering around with the opinion rattling in my, apparently clueless, head that give it another couple of generations or so and racism would be suffering its final death rattle along with sexism. Another generation or so after that, homophobia would be done-for. And so on, and so forth. Because, as my wife likes to tell me, I like to see the good in people, sometimes to a fault.
Well, the events in Charlottesville have seriously damaged that optimistic outlook. Or, to change the perspective, it opened my eyes. I’ve watched the documentaries about the KKK on The History Channel and chuckled when it got to the end and offered a look at the modern Klan—six rednecks eating barbecue outside of a trailer, sharing two teeth.
But this wasn’t that. These were young, organized, angry people, mostly men, who arrived in Charlottesville in large numbers. They weren’t all huck-hucking and sputtering their way through sentences—it would be so easy to dismiss them as inbred redneck hicks, Kid Rock and Nugent fans, toothless roadkill-eaters. That would be satisfying, and kind of comforting, because we could put them in a box and feel like we know what they look like. But it would be false.
There were people on TV spouting their hate in a variety of American accents. There were people in cargo shorts with hipster-looking beards. People in suits. People in heavy metal and punk shirts, and others in completely innocuous clothing. If most of them were to put down their flags and quit yelling their bullshit, they would look like any other white people I know.
That’s scary to me, but I’m learning that black people and other minorities have always known this. They’ve always known it because it’s been a part of their everyday lives, right under my nose. The guy who gets pulled over for the crime of “driving while black” isn’t pulled over by a man carrying a swastika flag. The boss of the black woman who is passed over for a promotion time and time again in favor of less qualified white people isn’t wearing a “Unite the Right” shirt. Their racism isn’t their uniform.
If you want to know your enemy, really catch a glimpse, read about an event like Charlottesville on a mainstream newspaper’s website and then read the comments. You won’t have to scroll far down the thread before you find some awful (badly-written) rant from Barb in Minnesota (note: If you are or know of a Barb in Minnesota and you aren’t racist then I apologize but this isn’t about that Barb in Minnesota).
“Hey, I see all you libtard snowflakes up in arms about Charlottesville and the people who died and stuff, but I didn’t hear you crying your bleeding-heart tears when Black Lives Matter and Antifa were rioting and fighting in the streets. Hypocritical brain-damaged leftist, communist crap at its finest.”
The above won’t just be Barb. It’ll be Brian in Maine, who didn’t fight in the Middle East to put up with this socialist, un-American bullshit. Or George in Colorado, who says that the Confederate flag and the statue of Robert E. Lee are part of our history and are not, in fact, symbols of hate. “Do you want a safe space, assholes?”
They’re all wrong. The people keen to point out that the KKK was started by Democrats and that “nazi” means “national socialist” are technically correct and they take joy in telling you so, but any intelligent person knows that the Democratic and Republican parties have changed beyond all recognition since then (which is why I don’t think there are many white supremacists voting Dem). We also know that, whatever the word translates to, nazis are fascists, not socialists.
But the biggest turd in that pile of shit, the one that you’ll hear a lot as this battle likely gets worse before it (hopefully) gets better, is that Antifa and BLM are the same as the white supremacists. That they’re all hate groups, just hating different things. Clearly, that isn’t true.
“When you’re accustomed to privilege,
equality feels like oppression.”
It is true that there are bad apples in both groups, which is inevitable with any large group. There are people who go out spoiling for a fight, looking to cause damage. But it is the ultimate false equivalency to say that they are the same as the white supremacists. The nazis carrying swastikas and spouting hate about really anybody who isn’t like them. It is absolutely not the same thing. Of course Black Lives Matter are angry—they have every reason to be. Maybe those valid emotions boil over and the behavior isn’t becoming of the cause every now and again. But those incidents are minor, and the cause that they stand for is absolutely right.
Antifa stands against fascism, just as the USA has done through war in the past. Who doesn’t think that’s justifiable?
Well, the President certainly thinks that the blame for Charlottesville should be shared. He’s wrong too. But then honestly, if President Trump had gone on air and firmly distanced himself from the nazis, I would have choked on my cornflakes. What he actually said wasn’t surprising at all. That was the President that we’re getting to know.
Are all Trump supporters nazis? Of course not. But I didn’t hear many nazis voicing support for Clinton (either one) or Obama.
Under this administration, they’re only going to get louder. We all need to be ready to be louder still.
“Callwood at the Cooler” is a bi-weekly column which will see me waxing lyrical about events in the news, pop culture and the etc. Sometimes it’ll be light, other times not-so when the rant/monolog demands. The subject matter will vary dramatically so expect anything and keep coming back.