Now, of course, white supremacist haven’t actually invaded the United States. That’s because white supremacist and white supremacy have long been part of the American essence. There has been no break when it hasn’t been.
From its founding, America’s wealth was rooted in its slave economy. The nation’s founding fathers owned slaves, pushed an inferiority narrative of African-Americans and other people of color. During reconstruction there were no trials for treason, no slave masters had their wealth stolen as some even received compensation for lost property, the story about why the South seceded quickly became “states rights” and not the explicit statement of wanting a slave-based society. Quickly the “reconstruction” of the south failed, as segregation and black code laws were emplaced. The ideology that pushed the southern states to march on Fort Sumter and started the Civil War was not stamped out. It changed and evolved, and that evolution was embraced or ignored until the 1950s and 60s.
There’s a deep history of white terrorism with lynchings where entire towns would come together to kill a human being and take pictures with a dead black body. There were “race riots” where white mobs would go into black neighborhoods burning, killing black people. COINTELPRO which infiltrated and violently broke apart Black Power and Civil Rights organizations, at times setting people up for crimes and assassinating black leaders like Fred Hampton. Or the MOVE bombing where the Philadelphia police department dropped a bomb on civilians, after the police initiated a shoot out.
In looking at American history, a question must be asked: How many Americans came home from the European front in World War II to oppose the civil rights movement? Who lynched black Americans? Who joined the KKK or the Council of Conservative Citizens? The majority of White Americans opposed civil rights legislation. Hitler even admired American racism and race laws. The United States has never been that far away from Nazism and the genocide this nation was built upon was far greater than the one Hitler embarked upon.
Today, white supremacy didn’t just go away after civil rights. It faded into the background – they are bankers, baseball coaches, teachers, etc. Even if they don’t participate, many agree with the ideology. Millions voted for Trump and he continnues to have a high approval rating for people that voted for him. He’s exactly what they wanted. David Duke, former Imperial Wizard of the KKK, told Donald Trump to remember who elected him. Right before Trump came out with a coded statement, and after Trump brought literal Nazis into his administration.
Racial violence goes beyond actions and to structural policies like redlining. The Federal Housing Authority and GI Bill systematically left out black Americans. You can go further back with convict-lease programs to today with mass incarceration and the drug war being used to explicitly target black Americans.
Even the FBI, who launched COINTELPRO, has warned of white supremacist infiltration into law enforcement, as there is a long history of ties of law enforcement and white supremacist organizations. Law enforcement, in fact, has its roots in slave catchers and as enforcers of racially segregated neighborhoods; keeping people of color “where they belong.” These are teachers, bankers, lenders, fire fighters, and so much more. These people are not on the fringes of society or backwoods living, they are everyday folk, with degrees, pensions, and children.
Charlottesville is America. There’s been no infiltration because it’s been here the entire time and has not gone away. We need to be honest about our past and present and we must even confront the most mundane types of racism and WS practices. Not confronting racists thoughts and not snuffing them out, allow them space to grow and implant themselves.
These are fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, cousins, uncles, teachers, fire fighters, bankers, real estate agents, car salesmen, lenders, neighbors, friends. These aren’t backwoods people that aren’t part of society, they very much are part of society. They are poor, middle class, and wealthy.
But what’s also clear, is that Trump is the GOP. Their condemning rings hollow as they still support Trump, as they have sold country for power, people for party. Ignoring the tick-like presence of white superiority in their ranks, in the talk radio, in spreading FOX News rumors about Obama, for 40-plus years of dog-whistle racial resentment politics. This is on all of their hands, they can not run away from this. I will not applaud someone for overcoming the lowest of hurdles in condemning and calling this violence for what it is. We must be better than this low hurdle, this must be the expectation. They won’t speak up to actual Nazis and white superiority that are in the White House, in a modern day presidential administration.
So-called pro-life politicians don’t support building conditions for a healthy family while denying full access to child care, to schooling, full access to secure housing, to food. You can’t be pro-life if you stop supporting life the moment a baby is born. You can’t be pro-life when you decide prenatal care access for all families isn’t necessary. You can’t be pro-life if you want the government to regulate a human body.
In not investing in community, as in Madison where we are quick to violently arrest, but not to invest in communities, in solutions that prevent violence, that prevent poverty. Instead we say it’s OK for police to continue their long history of violence. Why does it takes five or so police officers to arrest a homeless man who didn’t have a place to go to the bathroom. So, they arrested him for peeing on himself.
See, as long as we allow this type of violence to occur in our society, we will always be in risk of having a president that runs away when asked to condemn white supremacy. It’s not acceptable to point and say “at least we’re not them” as long as we’re still committed to a society that creates disparate outcomes when it comes to how much we grant levels of humanity based on race, gender, sexuality, able bodiedness, etc.
This is America, but that doesn’t mean we can’t change. But this change will not come just by “love” or a Facebook post. It must come from gathering the collective willpower to confront not only those who espouse this violent rhetoric, as they are your neighbors, co-workers, family members, and even friends. It comes from having the collective willpower to end the structural oppression of our institutions. It comes from having the willpower to invest in someone’s full humanity. When we decided as a city, county, state, and nation, that our structural disparities are no longer acceptable. It goes so much deeper than the Confederacy, swastikas, and Donald Trump.
All humans must be granted full dignity and this must be non-negotiable. So, decide what legacy you will leave behind to humanity – one where we decide to build a society that builds healthy humans as all are granted their full dignity. Or will you be complicit in this current one, which is one of the destruction of humanity? We are at a crossroads of society, be it from global warming, racism, sexism, or more, it’s time for you to fully decide where you want to stand.