How Confederate history looks in the shadow of CharlottesvilleRoundup
tags: racism, Confederacy, Charlottesville
Exactly one year after the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville that left counterprotester Heather Heyer dead and many others wounded, and during which two state police troopers also died in a helicopter crash, the nation is still grappling to address the issues and forces that the rally unleashed. This was not the first time white supremacists had wrought havoc in the country.
As has been widely reported, the "Unite the Right 2" rally in Washington was a bust for the neo-Nazis. About two dozen white nationalists -- far short of the hundreds projected by organizer Jason Kessler -- found themselves overwhelmingly outmatched by throngs of counterprotesters. But, while the show of support for anti-racism was powerful to see, the low turnout on the other side isn't a reason to stop paying attention. As the chilling "Frontline"/ProPublica documentary "Documenting Hate" shows, hate groups are on the rise in America and they have made political rallies an opportunity for a show of force before. With the midterms in full swing, there will be plenty of opportunities for them to use to make a further push. The problem with racialized hate in America is that it is not going anywhere.
Most still remember vividly the killings committed by Dylann Roof in the historic Charleston Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the summer of 2015. However, the reconciliation and rapprochement in the aftermath of the Charleston massacre, with relatives of the murdered calling for forgiveness, the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the state Capitol grounds in Columbia, South Carolina, and President Barack Obama's poignant rendition of "Amazing Grace," did not follow the killings in Charlottesville. Even before Charlottesville, organized groups of right wing hate groups had provoked violence in California and elsewhere, as "Documenting Hate" reveals.
While some cities and mayors have responded to these demonstrations of visceral racism courageously by taking down Confederate statues, the seeds of hate sown by Charlottesville have also flowered. Neo-Nazi and neo-Confederate groups have marched -- or attempted to march -- in Murfreesboro, Shelbyville, Knoxville, and Memphis, Tennessee and elsewhere to protest the removal of Confederate statues as they did in Charlottesville but without the resulting tragic consequences. Racist right-wing groups have continued to hold rallies, most recently in Portland, Oregon and of course in Washington.
As at Charlottesville, they have been met by counter-protests composed of students, citizens, activists, and members of Antifa, a group originally organized in the 1930s to stand up to the threat of fascism in Nazi Germany. Today in the US, the group aims to disrupt neo-Nazis and white supremacists, and some of their members embrace radical or militant tactics to achieve that goal. The fact that far-right forces today feel emboldened to stage public demonstrations and that their rhetoric has entered mainstream political discourse ought to give us pause. Today, we have self-avowed Nazis and white supremacists running for elections in GOP primaries and at times even winning them, despite condemnation and withheld support by mainstream GOP campaign committees. ...