A woman is dead. Be silent. Be still. Let that sink in.
Like me, I pray you are sick of the delusive naivete and counterfeit innocence that wallpapers our national discussions when white supremacy undresses itself as it did last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Heather Heyer. That’s her name. Racism killed her.
She lost her life while protesting the influx of sweaty knuckle-draggers who came with torches, “Jew won’t replace us” chants, and Hitler salutes.
Heyer’s death, accompanied by the death of two police officers and many injured people, and centuries of deaths and injuries to people with forgotten names, should inspire the president of the United States to get right with his own personal Jesus and to speak decisively with all the testosterone he usually injects (needlessly) into debates.
He didn’t do it. He resisted. Apparently his sharp tongue and little Twitter fingers are reserved for Rosie O’Donnell, women at-large, Black Lives Matter, Mexicans, transgender people, the media, Republicans who fail to advance his agenda, and so on.
He goes hard. On everybody. Except, for some reason that’s mysterious to many (not me), club wielding, spitting mad domestic terrorists.
Yes, on Saturday Trump denounced the “hatred” on display in Charlottesville, but he tempered his words by denouncing it on “many sides.”
Under intense pressure he gave a scripted statement that pointedly said “racism is evil,” and he called the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists “thugs” on Monday.
Then, Tuesday, he got stuck on stupid again and went back to his “many sides” argument.
That’s a problem.
Within that insulating false comparison lives a wellspring of plausible deniability. It’s a clever gosh-golly-give-us-the-benefit-of-the-doubt brand of white racism that gaslights it’s victims and excuses their oppression.
The smartest Republicans jump off the Trump Titantic. Several of them saying the things Trump would say if he weren’t concerned with maintaining his bigoted base.
Paul Ryan, Republican and Speaker of the House, spoke out against “vile bigotry” and tweeted this:
Our hearts are with today’s victims. White supremacy is a scourge. This hate and its terrorism must be confronted and defeated.
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) August 12, 2017
Marco Rubio spoke straight with no chaser:
Senator Orrin Hatch really brought it home, saying…
We should call evil by its name. My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home. -OGH
— Senator Hatch Office (@senorrinhatch) August 12, 2017
Kudos to them. History will not pee on their legacies when students of the future study this implosion of America’s already fragile moral core.
Trump won’t be so fortunate.
For now we know his awkward wink and nod to white anger, social displacement, economic stress, and fear of the future, coupled with his bizarre inability to be firm against white nationalism, is old. It’s known. You know it. I know it. The Blind Boys of Alabama can see it.
The racist underground can see it too. The day after Trump’s non-condemnation of white supremacy Soledad O’Brien tweeted an excerpt of a statement from the Daily Stormer gloating about the fact that Trump had not forsaken them.
If you’re reading my blog you probably don’t read The Daily Stormer. It’s a neo-Nazi online community and hate site that is to racism what snuff films are to cinema.
That site’s post about the death of Heyer is an example of how low they go. They derided her as “fat,” a “slut,” and “a child murderer” among other things (I won’t link to it and you shouldn’t read it or drive traffic to it).
They also have also issued an alter call for their readers, asking them to protest at Heyer’s funeral. Nothing on the left equals that. No person with moral clarity should fail to blunt this hate.
Let me pause. I see what you’re about to do. You’re going to roll your eyes, fall into partisan baby talk (what about the 30,000 “emails”), and attempt to find demarcation between mainstream voices like the president’s and those on the margins of legitimacy like The Daily Stormer and it’s readers.
Let’s not do that today.
Don’t say folks who read, write, and circulate the toxic and violent misanthropy in right-wing Internet sewers like the Daily Stormer are impotent trolls, fully unrepresentative of conservatism or Republicans. Don’t play it off like they are a small band of fanatics on the fringes of civilized society.
There is no demarcation. Racism lives on a spectrum. It thrives like cancer because it isn’t contained to one portion of the public body. It exists within the bones and guts of American structures, history, law, and education. It is an intrinsic feature of American prosperity, not an abnormality.
The Daily Stormer is only a hop away from Drudge and Brietbart, which are a hop away from The Daily Caller, which is a step away from Fox News. From underground to mainstream, these platforms launder white supremacy and bring a highly refined version of it to market.
Together they manufacture and exploit white fatigue with black grievance, with the brown invasion, and with the militant feminism of women who won’t stop demanding to have the same rights as [white] men.
Consider this passage taken directly from The Daily Stormer:
“As a sign of appreciation for enormous economic support provided to non-white population by middle class whites, non-white immigrants, primarily Mexicans, have unleashed a wave of violent crime on their unsuspecting white neighbors. Entire communities are taken over by brutal Central American gangs who terrorize whites until they are forced to leave their hometowns. While Hispanic children are typically not very good at reading and multiplying, they receive preferential treatment in college admissions, while their more able, white counterparts are rejected by state colleges funded by their own parents!”
How is that different from Trump’s build-a-wall rhetoric about Mexicans, or the use of “anchor baby” on Fox News, or the gnashing of teeth about how affirmative action work against white applicants to universities in all the aforementioned venues?
A post on the Daily Stormer’s site says “you cannot have a first-world nation and a first-world economy with a third-world population.”
Now, match that with the words of Republican Rep. Steve King’s who said “culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”
King also questioned what other “sub-groups” had made contributions to civilization equal to what whites did, and was called out for proudly displaying the Confederate flag in his office even though he represents Iowa – a state that fought the Confederate
He also introduced a bill that would prevent the government from replacing Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill.
Come on people.
Many of us live without the luxury of innocence. That vice can be deadly. While others pretend the tiki torch brigade is a line of social losers who should be minimized, our own Federal Bureau of Investigations has reported for over a decade about white supremacist groups infiltrating law enforcement.
And we’ve watched the most outrageously racist interactions between police and communities of color, too many that ended in death.
Certainly there are faithful Republicans who aren’t racist, who don’t support racism, and who are offended when anyone suggests otherwise. Many voted against Hillary Clinton, not for Donald Trump. They believe in small government, low taxes, and some approximation of “liberty.” They believe conservatism preserves the best of American values and produces that prosperity we enjoy.
You are not innocent. You are not blind. You are not acting in accord with any reasonable definition of virtue.
To you I say, even if you’re that rationale republican voter you’ll have to step over a lot of dead bodies to pull that lever and stubbornly pursue your political theories.
Shame on you.