White Nationalism 2.0 In Charlottesville

By

Leonard Zwelling

This one was tough to write.

“Bricks and baseball bats” may be what Woody Allen calls for against Nazis, but we have just seen what that yields in Charlottesville and it is not good.

Violence is violence and there is no place for it among Americans who disagree with each other even those who hold the most insulting and egregious of points of view. They have a right to those points of view and even to express them peacefully, but not to allow their thinking to lead to violent action.

That being said, there is also no doubt at all that Donald Trump’s rise to power has emboldened those with extreme alt-right points of view. Mr. Trump has ensconced such people—Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller—in his White House. He cannot even bring himself to condemn the latest act of murder wrought by that oldest of American terrorist groups, the KKK. What’s wrong with him? There is not “all sides” on the issue of historical American terrorism. There may well have been radical leftist violence here in the past just as we have seen reactionary violence now, but extremism and accompanying violence must be condemned and the violence this weekend was all from outside agitators of the right who have been empowered by the Trump rhetoric.

First, the president must take responsibility for what he has done by unleashing this plague on our country. Racism and extreme white supremicism has been born anew under the flag of preserving Confederate history and freedom of speech, not to mention phony red baseball caps. It is hateful speech and should be condemned by our leaders as many Republican senators have done since Mr. Trump’s lukewarm comments about violence “on all sides” following the Charlottesville mayhem.

My heart tells me that Woody Allen is right about Nazis. Bricks and baseball bats are the answer. My head tells me otherwise. As hateful as the rhetoric of the racist right is, it is still free speech. Peaceful demonstrations, even for truly unworthy causes, must be tolerated. Violence and the provoking thereof cannot be, however. It is still illegal to cry “theater” to a fiery crowd.

Neither can the president’s wishy washy condemnation of what happened in Virginia be sufficient. Not only need he condemn it, he needs to own up to provoking it and fire those within his White House who have advanced this agenda, both before they got into government and since arriving in DC.

If he really wants to make America great again, get rid of the worst of what made American history so bloody.

I understand the issue surrounding the Civil War monuments that some want to preserve. But those same monuments stand for something as hateful as a swastika to important members of our American family. Yes, the Civil War was history and yes, many of the men who fought in it for the South are considered heroes. But the South was wrong then and lauding that history is wrong now. It’s time to close the book on bigotry in America. The president ought to get that ball rolling. Now.

Leonard Zwelling