I once thought recurring rallies supporting white supremacy in America were clearly a thing of the past.
Turns out, not quite.
Things got really messy during August’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. A woman was killed by a white supremacist when he ran his car into a crowd. President Donald Trump responded by saying there was “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides” during the demonstrations.
It signaled a major setback for civil rights.
Fast forward to Saturday: A “White Lives Matter” rally took place in Shelbyville, Tennessee, about an hour south of Nashville. The League of the South, a group that participated in the Charlottesville marches, was the main impetus behind the protests in Shelbyville, as well. The group rallies against “southern cultural genocide” and actively endorses secession from the United States.
Amazingly, only one counter-protester was arrested Saturday; local law enforcement did an astounding job keeping the peace. There were numerous security checks. Entire roads divided nationalist marchers from counter-protesters. White supremacists canceled a protest scheduled for later that day in nearby Murfreesboro.
Maybe it’s time the “Never Surrender” marchers found a new slogan.
I originally thought Charlottesville wasn’t enough for society as a whole to collectively condemn white supremacy, but maybe things aren’t as bad as I first imagined. I feared violence would erupt during the Tennessee protests, and I wan’t the only one: the Wall Street Journal ran a preview story, which got top-billing on the organization’s website.
I overestimated the likelihood of a Charlottesville-level event. However, minor violence did occur in a Nashville suburb. Saturday night in Brentwood, Tennessee, a biracial couple was attacked by protesters, who claimed the couple started the fight.
A police report stated the protesters, belonging to the Traditionalist Worker Party, punched a 30-year-old woman following a verbal exchange. It’s clear that, although society has made much progress since the mid-20th century civil rights era, there’s still plenty of work to be done.
I support the Black Lives Matter movement, and believe its critics misconstrue the movement’s aims. BLM is about justice and equality; WLM seeks to preserve an unjust and inequitable state of affairs. Those who demean BLM are making a choice to be willfully ignorant of the movement’s core values. The group doesn’t seek to demean police officers and white people, but merely to hold them accountable by a fair standard.
The first thing we have to do in order to be anywhere close to ending this normalization of hatred is cutting off the source behind it: President Trump. I don’t see the need to go into specifics when I have already done so in several articles. Voting for candidates who will stand up to him and regularly hold him accountable, regardless of incumbency, is a big first step toward this.
Unlike my colleague Aristophanes, I’m not quite ready to forgive Trump voters — they’ve supported a race-baiting white nationalist, and elevated him to the highest office in the land. Part of an apology is being sincerely regretful; many Trump voters have yet to express remorse.
Almost everyone is complicit in this uprise in hatred. We collectively decided it was acceptable to vote for Donald Trump as our next president. The Republican Party decided it was OK to nominate him, despite his distasteful campaign. More than 90 million eligible voters did not come out to the polls, silently consenting to allow Trump to be elected. Another nearly 63 million Americans cast their ballot for Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence, while another 7.83 million Americans voted third party or for someone who lost their party’s nomination.
People shouldn’t still have a “good conscience” for essentially throwing away their vote knowing the end result. Trump’s demagoguery over the prior two years has normalized abrasive rhetoric. When Trump says there is “violence on many sides,” it creates a false equivalence between sides with unequal moral culpability.
However, there is still a chance to right this wrong. The American Unionist crew is keeping an eye on several upcoming federal elections. The best way to confront Trump is to vote against his party in the 2018 midterm elections, and to vote against him in the 2020 presidential election.
Democrats, and their party’s national apparatus, are hardly blameless. But at least one major political party has shown the stomach to resist Trump’s bastardization of justice.
Trumpism shows signs of flourishing independently of its beloved leader. Again, Republican lawmakers follow along in silence. These lawmakers won’t bite the hand that feeds, as they care more about their own job security than standing up for true conservatism.
The day we’re able to elect a congressional majority that truly cares about improving the country, I will forgive Trump supporters.
But until then, why should I? ■