The Folklore Project
They’re Still Murderous
By Holly Croft
That’s how many responses there are to what I considered an uncontroversial Facebook post:
“Three people lost their lives today in Virginia because of racism. A mosque was blown up this past week because of racism. I'm so sorry for everyone affected by these vile acts. White supremacy is un-Christian and un-American. It's a tragedy that this is still happening in 2017. Period. Full stop.”
Many of the responses agreed, but some folks missed the meaning of “period, full stop.” To them, I was egregiously not calling out everything else wrong that had happened on Saturday, whether it was antifa with chemical sprays and shields or the the “alt-right” folks who had them, too.
And people on Facebook let me know about it. As is my custom, I responded, pointing out why I saw no correlation between the alt-right and the counter-protesters. We also discussed the right to protest peacefully, whether or not the Confederate monuments should come down, and – most bizarrely – whether we should honor the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with monuments and street names because he was a religious figure.
I wish I were making this up.
How did we get to a place where we can’t say full-throated and without caveats that Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan are evil? Why should anyone feel the need to morally equivocate Nazis and the KKK, groups responsible for the deaths of millions of people worldwide, with a group of peaceful but rude protestors with signs at a rally thousands of miles away or even a militant, anti-police group of ambiguous origins? A does not equal B or C. It cannot, because only A aims for the eradication or subjugation of entire groups of people. In case we think American Nazis might be “Nazis Lite” or “JV Nazis,” let us remember Heather Heyer and 19 others were hit by a car driven by one of these supposedly not-as-bad wannabes.
No. They’re still Nazis. They’re still murderous.
Why can’t we say white supremacy is bad without someone rejoining, “All supremacy is bad?” Well, sure, in theory, that’s true, but when is the last time any of us actually experienced Native American, African-American, or even Indian-American supremacy? Those groups would have to be in a position of power for that to exist, and that’s not been the case since the founding of our country. Whites have been and continue to be the majority in this country, though that is quickly changing. The system was designed for us, and even with great strides toward equality in the past few decades, it is still harder for nonwhites to navigate. To deny that is to deny reality.
A good example: I’m a faculty member at Georgia College in Milledgeville. Out of pure coincidence, our Making Excellence Inclusive Day workshop was held on the Monday after the horrific events in Charlottesville. Our Diversity Peer Ambassadors spoke on a panel during the workshop, and one of them, a sharp African-American student, talked about being in a math class his first semester. He was getting more and more confused about the material. He finally realized it was because he had never been taught factoring, and the professor was teaching the class on the assumption that everyone had learned it in middle or high school. This was not a competence issue, but an opportunity issue. The system had previously failed this student and was about to fail him again, save some help from peers and staff. Now, imagine this had happened to a white student.
That people felt attacked by my calling out racism and white supremacy indicates a problem, and unfortunately, it’s a problem that too many can’t admit exists. This is hate vs. the soul of America. To combat the evil, we must believe it exists, and we must name it. These enemies are not new to us, but we have lulled ourselves into believing that these hate groups are small in number and are not sincere in their beliefs. They are; they proved it to us this weekend. We cannot believe that Civil Rights ended all our racial issues. We can no longer pretend we don’t see color. My sincere hope is that we will look at Charlottesville and say as Americans, “This will never happen again.”
We have much work to do to heal what ails our country. However, we can only do it together.