Tag Archives: Charlottesville

The Projection of All Their Fears: Justice and the Commonwealth

Few things illustrate the issues for all those “economically anxious” Trump supporters quite as well as the chain e-mail forwarded by the President’s lawyer: “You cannot be against General Lee and be for General Washington,” the email reads, “there literally is no difference between the two men.”  To repeat the obvious — yes you can.  You can differentiate between slave owners who created an imperfect Constitution (containing safeguards for slave owners) but who had the intelligence and foresight to establish a framework for freedom which could be perfected — to create a “more perfect union,” — and the slave owners who rebelled against this perfectable union and led an insurrection that sought to enshrine slavery from sea to sea.   The hoary old, and utterly illogical, silly syllogism that if you object to Lee you must then object to Washington requires the believer to reduce everything to whether or not a person practiced chattel slavery — and to ignore all other elements.  The repetition of this canard says more about those who adopt it than it says about any 18th or 19th century slave owner.

It says they are afraid, very afraid of losing their “culture.”  If a person’s “culture” includes the veneration of icons of rebellion, white supremacy, and chattel slavery as a part of one’s “heritage,” then it’s time to rethink that “culture and heritage.” This exercise can be extremely difficult for some “fragile whites.”   One of the most fragile appears to be Virginia Senate Candidate Republican Corey Stewart who commented: “The left isn’t doing this to redecorate some parks. They are going after the Founders next, to undermine the Founding Documents.”   Fragile white people live on a perpetually slippery slope.

To question a person’s racial biases is to “attack,” an attack must be nefarious, the nefarious attack must be from some equally objectionable direction, even if this requires attributing motives which are not in evidence.  Thus Stewart can maintain that questioning his support for white supremacists is an assault from some universal cabal composed of opponents of The Founders and their Founding Documents.  Perhaps those who feel assaulted might want to consider that predicating one’s sense of self on the basis of the coloration of a layer of skin, skin so thin it can be cut with a piece of paper, is a very fragile thing indeed.

That fragility creates its own environment of fear — the fear that a white person might have to compete for a job with a person of color, without giving the paler person an automatic edge.  The fear that a white person may not automatically assume an advantage in commerce, education, and in the judicial system.  The following paragraph summarizes this sentiment:

“They see all of this talk about Black Lives Matter and the importance of diversity, including through policies like affirmative action. They see recent moves to tear down Confederate monuments in the South. And they themselves have likely been accused of racism at some point in their lives, making them defensive and angry.” [Vox]

Skin coloration is an extremely thin basis for self esteem; frustration and anger are an even more fragile basis for a successful political ideology — leading as they do to short term gains with practically guaranteed long term losses.   This perspective is unjust, and as St. Augustine advised: “Where there is no justice there is no commonwealth.”

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Filed under Nativism, Politics, racism, Republicans

Meanwhile back at the local GOP offices

I’m just going to leave these here — for those who believe that this is some sort of inflection point for the Republican Party —

There’s this from Flagstaff, Arizona:

“Donald Young, a Flagstaff Trump supporter, said he thought Trump made an “outstanding statement” against the hatred and violence in Charlottesville.
Young said including “many sides” in the statement included the Black Lives Matter Movement and anti-conservative actions at Berkeley.
“He was talking about the ultra-left as well as the ultra-right,” Young said.
Young said “no rational person” would say Nazis and white supremacists have been empowered by Trump, and said he is not in favor of any group that tries to divide the country.”

And, another voice from Flagstaff:

“White supremacists might feel empowered by Trump in the same way the Black Lives Matter movement may have felt empowered by Barack Obama, Staveley said, calling Black Lives Matter a “hate group.” “Did either president do anything to empower these people?” Staveley asked. “Obama did not come out with any strong language against Black Lives Matter, and they were a violent, anarchistic group. I do see similarities between the two.”

From the Republican GOP Chairman in Virginia:

“The president’s statements were unequivocal in opposing hatred, and so his statements were in line with the Republican base on this,” said Virginia GOP Chairman John Whitbeck. “I don’t see any scenario where grassroots conservatives are sitting there picking apart the president’s every word and rethinking support for him.”

From North Carolina:

Carter Wrenn, a veteran North Carolina-based Republican strategist: “I’m not a Trump fan, but I didn’t see any problem with what he said. I thought he made it pretty clear he disapproved of what happened.”

From Iowa:

Steve Scheffler, the Iowa Republican national committeeman who also heads the state’s socially conservative Faith & Freedom Coalition, said he was troubled by the criticism leveled at Trump by members of his own party in Washington, specifically U.S. senators.

“Why don’t these senators go and have a private conversation with him instead of making a public statement,” said Scheffler, who stressed that he supported condemning the white supremacist groups themselves “in the strongest terms.” “I suspect that a lot of it has to do with politics.”

“I’m getting fed up to the top of my head with some of these pontificating Republican senators in particular, who seem to try and find every opportunity just to take a dig at the president,” he said.”

Lancaster, Pennsylvania:

County Commission member: “Our president, and that’s what we need to call Donald Trump, is ‘our president,’ ” he said. “He’s everybody’s president and so I respect that office. There’s some comments he’s made that I don’t necessarily agree with. But all in all, he’s surrounded himself with some awfully good people. So in that regard, I think he’s doing a lot of good.”

Meanwhile in Connecticut:

A state GOP leader says she’s sorry for a Facebook rant — posted in the wake of the deadly melee in Charlottesville, Va., incited by white supremacists— referring to immigrants who commit crimes as “junk people” who “deserve what they get.”

“As for xenophobia, what a bunch of crock. I’m tired for paying for every foreigner showing up, some of whom are here just to make trouble instead of settling and making something of themselves,” Patricia Fers, a Republican State Central Committee member from Ansonia, posted early Sunday morning. “Those junk people who won’t support themselves and who do by crime deserve what they get.”

If a person can’t tell the difference between a Black Lives Matter member advocating for increased respect by law enforcement personnel for members of minority communities and a Neo-Nazi, there’s probably not much we can say to help the individual.

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And then he spoke, wrecking the message in three words

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” Trump said, then repeating, “On many sides.” [Trump]

It would have been a stronger statement had the President left off those last three little words, “On many sides.”  There was only one side meriting condemnation today — the Neo-Nazi White Supremacists who descended on Charlottesville like so many locusts.  There is NO moral equivalence between the racists and the counter-protesters.  There never has been such and equivalence, and there never will be.

“He called on “swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives,” and said that, “No child should ever be afraid to go outside and play or be with their parents and have a good time.”

This isn’t a matter of law and order.  It’s a problem of what to do with white nationalist (Neo-Nazi/White Supremacist) terrorists who insist they are  “exercising their rights” while intimidating, bullying, and terrorizing their fellow citizens.  He continued:

“No matter our color, creed, religion or political party,” he said, “we are all Americans first. We love our country, we love our God, we love our flag, we’re proud of our country, we’re proud of who we are, so we want to get the situation straightened out in Charlottesville and want to study it and see what we’re doing wrong in this country.”

It was a good start for the paragraph, and then it got mushy.  We want to “study it?” IT has, as the occupant of the Oval Office proclaimed, been around a long time.  It’s called racism. It’s purveyors are white supremacists.  The general category is “domestic terrorism.”

Perhaps the President thinks there is something more that needs examination? However, his anti-Islamic views have administrative results, as we discovered last February:

 “The Trump administration wants to revamp and rename a U.S. government program designed to counter all violent ideologies so that it focuses solely on Islamist extremism, five people briefed on the matter told Reuters.

The program, “Countering Violent Extremism,” or CVE, would be changed to “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism,” the sources said, and would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States.”

So, no “racist domestic terror attack” in Portland?  No domestic terrorism at the Minnesota mosque?  Perhaps IT does need more study by this administration, given that the President’s notion that most US terrorism convictions after 2001 were handed down to foreigners, an obvious falsehood .

A statement which should have revealed moral clarity, managed instead to muddle itself into “both sides do it,” and “violence” in highly generalized terms complicating what should have been a simple matter.

Mr. Trump was very clear that words matter, as in “radical Islamic terrorism,” but he has a baffling tendency to muffle and mix his own message when he can’t seem to pronounce the words, “Neo-Nazi, white supremacist, domestic terrorism.”

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