Charlottesville: Another Lesson for America
The incident at Charlottesville, VA was another tragic moment for the country. We shouldn’t brush it aside as old news; our country needs to honestly reflect on what has made such situations possible and how to prevent more violence. Charlottesville was bound to happen because we haven’t learned from our past.
This nation was built with the notions that the original native inhabitants of this land deserved to be brutalized and sectioned off into reservations, that Africans brought over in chains and tasked with all the country’s labor can be counted as three-fifths of a person and brutalized for centuries, and that women could not vote, hold property, or do anything else a man could do. That’s not even scratching the surface of our rough history with disenfranchised groups in this country. Some people refuse to accept this.
Of course, there are individuals in our society who still vocally express or subconsciously hold onto the false beliefs that certain groups of people are “superior” even while modern science and anthropology have proven that we are all human beings and not different “races” as believed in the past. There’s a segment of the population that feels threatened by the thought of Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Muslims, women, immigrants, and even Jewish people “taking over” because they don’t want to ever trade places with the “minority” groups their forefathers helped to create.
These people are some of the individuals who voted to “Make America Great Again.” These are some of the people that candidate Trump was talking to. These are some of the people who were marching in Charlottesville to “Unite the Right” as in the “alt-right” as in white supremacists while chanting ‘White Lives Matter’ and ‘Jews will not replace us.’
Of course, there are people who didn’t attend this march, but still seek to defend the freedom of speech of those KKK members, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis because the resurfacing of such groups doesn’t make them question their safety. They aren’t the targets of these groups’ hate and violence. However, in the same breath, these defenders of free speech claim that the counter-protesters at the “Unite the Right” march needed a permit to exercise their right to protest these “alt-right” groups’ unabashed bigotry.
And so that being said, even President Trump’s initial reaction to the situation in Charlottesville and his follow up reactions days after shouldn’t be a surprise either. He was appealing to this base.
This is the guy who started the “birther” conspiracy about President Obama’s birthplace. This is the guy who said that Mexicans are ‘criminals’ and ‘rapists.’ This is the guy who tried to reach Black voters by saying they have ‘nothing to lose.’ This is the guy who wanted to ban all Muslims because he only suspects people from Muslim majority countries as terrorists. This is the guy who has spread divisiveness through his words and executive actions.
So, of course with his lack of decency:
He would see ‘violence on many sides’ where there was a march held by white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and those with Confederacy nostalgia while on the other side, various social activist groups and some people from the Charlottesville community assembled to counter-protest hate speech.
He would ignore the ‘alt-left’ counter-protesters, as he called them, who were injured when they were run over by an individual from the white supremacist group.
He wouldn’t comfort those mourning the tragic loss of Heather Heyer, one of the counter-protesters who was killed, and Trooper-Pilot Berke M. M. Bates and Lt. H. Jay Cullen, the two state police officers who were killed responding to this nonsensical “Unite the Right” protest.
He would continue to tweet about the injustice of removing confederate statues from public places even when the descendants of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis have all agreed that the statues of their ancestors should be moved to a museum dedicated to American or Civil War history because these statues offend their fellow Americans due to our deep-seeded history with race.
However, the current president of our Union couldn’t help being the country’s antagonizer instead of being the unifier. He and some others in the country couldn’t rationalize that these three Confederate leaders fought to preserve the southern economy of slavery and that if the Confederacy won the Civil War, our Union would’ve been dissolved and more importantly there would be people in this country who would still be physically enslaved.
But, all of this shouldn’t be a shock.
What was surprising in aftermath of Charlottesville was the few Republicans who showed some backbone and called President Trump out on his rhetoric and lack of leadership during this situation…something they’ve refused to do before.
It was hopeful to see White people or non-Jews standing in solidarity with their fellow Americans and fighting against this racism and anti-Semitism.
It’s a miracle that some are now seeing the warning signs the rest of us saw. Charlottesville wasn’t an isolated incident given our history and we can’t just hold hands with people who have blind hatred in their hearts like the President suggests.
We can’t move forward as a country if we won’t come to terms with how we got to this place, accept the reality of race relations in this country, talk about this “uncomfortable for some people” topic, and learn from others who have slightly different views.
Unfortunately, we can’t look to our current leadership in the White House for unity. The buck stops with the rest us.
And that shouldn’t surprise us either.