It seems that nowadays there is always something to write about. Just as soon as I get my thoughts together in a logical manner, something else happens, and I want to talk about it! So, before Trump opens his mouth again, I’m going to weigh in on Charlottesville.
I am a keen student of history, particularly the history of Europe between the great depression and 1945. I’ve read many, many books about so many aspects of this period and have taken courses about events such as the holocaust. I lead this paragraph with this information so you know I’m not speaking from total ignorance. So, the president of the US says there are good people “on both sides”. Really? There are “good” neo nazis? “Good” white nationalists? Please, name one. Let’s look at the original Nazis, from which the neo-Nazis derive their identity. Can you name one, SINGLE, good nazi? I can’t. I’ve thought about it, and I can’t think of a single “good” one. This, of course, doesn’t mean that the original Nazis did not do SOME good things. But the bad heavily outweighed the good. Improving the German economy versus stealing property from Jews, Gays, JWs, Poles etc..? – no contest. Valuing children and families versus incinerating 11 million people? – NO contest. I do not believe ANYONE who is in any way a humanist could, or would, ever say that there were good people amongst the Nazis.
Unfortunately, the Nazis were not born with giant swastikas stamped across their foreheads. In fact, the Nazis were ordinary people. Yes, ordinary people! And this should scare us silly. Ordinary people get into positions of power because of their ordinariness. Only critical thinkers, or those who fear being damaged by these people, feel a sense of foreboding and are likely to stand against them. Ordinary people can take on extraordinary beliefs such as anti-semitism, racism, homophobicism etc… and move from being ordinary people doing ordinary, or even good things, to ordinary people doing really bad, evil, disgusting, inhumane things.
If some of the people opposing the alt right are accused of being bad people, does that make their “badness” equal to the “badness” of those on the alt right? Only a moron would state something like that. Was the “badness” of the Nazis the same as the “badness” of the French (or Polish or Dutch etc…) resistance? Not in scope, not in depth, not in purpose, and certainly not in frequency. Further, one cannot ignore the PURPOSE of the organizations. So no, it’s vomit-inducing that the president of the USA is standing before the world claiming that both sides were to blame.
What were the protests about anyway? For anyone who grew up outside of the US, or who did not have a good history education, here it is in a nutshell: The US fought a civil war in the early 1860s between north and south. The south wanted to keep, and indeed extend slavery, while the north did not. The south withdrew from the union, proclaimed its own president and went to war with the US. They lost. Let me repeat that: THEY LOST. Slaves were freed, and began to be integrated fully into society. However, there was a resurgence of racist politicians and ideas such as the Jim Crow laws began to be enacted. This was in the early 1900s. At about the same time, monuments started to be erected in public places to honor the men who LED the rebellion against the US (and thus who led the movement to KEEP slaves enslaved). Basically, to African Americans, these statues were somewhat like a slap in the face, and now, a hundred years later, many people realize that they have no place in the public domain. They should be in museums as records of the changes in American society. With me so far?
It is therefore NO surprise that the neo-Nazis, the White Supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan etc… do not like this idea. At all. So, they protest at the places where the statues are being taken down. Those who disagree with them go to these protests to let people know that there are many people who understand that the monuments have to go. And yes, there was violence on both sides, but that is a far cry from BLAMING both sides. If there had been no protest, there’d have been no counter protest. If there had been no chanting of Nazi slogans, there’d have been no need for anyone to stand up against racism and hate.
So, there we go. Bigotry and hatred should not be tolerated in our society, and it should certainly not be legitimized by the POTUS.
It makes me sick.