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Monday, August 14, 2017

Charlottesville, 2017

This post was supposed to be a funny post about the dumb stuff that I'm up to as I train for PPM. But then Charlottesville happened... white supremacists marched, neo-Nazis bought torches at Home Depot and walked down the street with them, people saluted... and there was  counter-protest, then violence, then a white nationalist mowed down counter-protesters with his car in what I can only describe as an ISIS-inspired attack, killing one and hurting a bunch.

It is 2017.

And we have Nazis running around, and white nationalists in khaki pants and button-down shirts pretending respectability while spewing hate and vitriol. And killing people with their cars.

And I can't come up with a funny thing to say about my training, maybe tomorrow.

I know there is nothing new under the sun that can be said about this that hasn't already been said in the 48 hours since all this occurred. But, one thing sticks in my head that I have to write down. And that one thing is the chant that these (mostly young), white (mostly) men, kept repeating.

"You will not replace us."

Excuse me?

Are you talking about the fact that Charlottesville took down the statue of Robert E. Lee, Confederate general who lost that war 152 years ago? Because I can't think of another country (and I've been to a lot, and seen a lot of statues and memorials) that permanently keeps vigil for the losers of a civil war, and you can bet that other countries have people descended from the losers too. I have a significant failure of understanding why these particular memorials have been permitted to stand for so long to begin with! These statues represent moral failure- and let's be clear here: that war was fought by the South over the right to OWN OTHER HUMANS. I don't want to be so na├»ve as to think that the North had all their moral ducks in a row, but a war was fought over OWNING OTHER PEOPLE. Those statues represent that - why the hell would we put them up in the first place, and keep them up? And fight to keep them up? Heritage be damned, I would be ashamed if I learned my ancestors believed they could own people.

Or, are you talking about your mistaken belief that you, as a white, middle-class, working-age male are somehow being oppressed? That minorities are somehow eating your piece of the pie - the pie that you, for centuries, have refused to make larger even though you always could have?

There is no pie. You are not being "replaced."

You are not being oppressed or marginalized. Fairness, equality, being a decent human being to people who look, dress and/or act like you does not mean that you are being oppressed. This is not an "I only win if you lose" game.

What is scarier is that someone has convinced these young people of this oppression-myth. They didn't grow up facing oppression. They didn't grow up being launched out of their homes in the middle of the night for the color of their skin, or have family members shot in ditches because they belonged to the wrong tribe, or have their heads chopped off because of the God they prayed to. Someone has convinced these men to believe in supremacy based on skin color, on "rightness" based on race and religion, and existential threat based on the advancement of equality. Those people need to be held accountable, and the means of communicating the lies and the anger and the murder need to be cut off.

Here's the reality: No one is hurting you if they marry someone they love. No one is harming you when they better their education and seek the best for their family. If you lose out on a job to someone else because they are better qualified, that's on you, not them.

Your ivory tower is being threatened only because it's being revealed instead as a house of cards.

Equality isn't a win-lose game, or don't you remember 3rd grade math class when we learned what "equal" means?

Also, you look and sound like ISIS, with your insistence on your way, your supremacy, your desire to exert your will over everyone... oh yea, and your terror attack on people different from you.

I feel like screaming, but screaming won't solve the problem. I feel like hitting a Nazi with a stick, but hitting won't do any good. I also don't know any Nazi's. You wouldn't be my friend if you were a Nazi. But I don't think that lets me off the hook.

This doesn't get solved by protest and vigil, although I would certainly participate, mostly because those who really are marginalized and those who have been hurt by this racist, xenophobic garbage need to know they have support, and people who are willing to get out and show that support.

Maybe a step in the right direction requires challenging racist beliefs however big or small if and when I hear them, of saying "that's not right" when necessary, and repeating the message ad nauseum.

Now, if only I could get over that nauseous feeling at still having to do this in 2017...

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