On August 11th 2017, the white nationalist protest started at the University of Virginia. (Images via article linked)
August 12th 2017 white nationalists protests continued in Charlottesville. A person of color (POC) De’Andre Harris was beaten with poles. (Image credit Zach Roberts) The protest ended in the death of a 32 year old woman peacefully protesting who was run down by a car driven by a white nationalist. Her name is Heather Heyer. Nineteen other protesters were injured by the car.The governor condemned the protesters and issued a state of emergency in Virginia.
I am not going to rehash what everyone already knows from the extensive amount of news coverage as well as the open dialogue being seen on social media. I want to discuss observations of recent history as well as the fundamental aspects of what we see here. I want to compare protests we have seen, the motives behind them, similarities in history, how apt art is right now, and how science can be affected by these events. (Type in BOLD signifies sources with direct links to both news articles and studies)
White nationalism focuses on the misguided idea that white/aryan individuals are superior to any and all other races of people. A list of organizations in the US can be found HERE.
It is important to note that history regarding the treatment of LGBTQ people as well as the oppression of women (both white and people of color) by white supremacists (NAZIS) is heavily documented in the records of history. If you are not a white male who falls into their specified categories and ideals, according to history…you are a target of their hatred and violence.
The US has a volatile history involving oppression and violence towards people of color (POC). The main perpetrators being white supremacists. Stories of such torment are large in number. Some more well known stories being the Rosewood Massacre and the Detroit Race Riots. These have now been turned into films. There are countless more stories on African American history you can find on the Black Past site.
Police brutality is also receiving more media attention and raising awareness in regards to the shootings of unarmed POC. A website (Mapping Police Violence) is working to gain accurate numbers in regards to how many POC are killed each year, but do not have complete figures due to police not giving all of the information. They are basing their data largely on media reports and what the police are willing to give them as well as FBI and Justice Dept. numbers. The numbers reported nevertheless are still troubling given they may be considerably higher due to incomplete data. PBS reports the FBI warned of white supremacists within the police force over 10 years ago. Much of the bulletin has been redacted, but the evidence of concern is clear.
White nationalism is clearly ingrained within powerful places in our society.
Having established the fact that white nationalism in the US is nothing new and has never gone away, let us discuss what these protests are in comparison to other protests.
These white nationalists are protesting movements of equality for individuals who are not like them. They are protesting the existence of people who are not like them.
These white nationalists say they “will not be erased”. My question is what/who exactly are erasing them?
A brief history of white men in the US…
They could always…
- Vote (except for a brief time when they had to own land in order to do so).
- Own land.
- Work in whatever field they wanted.
- Go to university and graduate school.
- Run for office.
- Marry who they wanted (as long as it wasn’t gay or POC for a LONG TIME)
- Get paid more than women.
- Are not likely go to prison for rape/assault
- Have a majority representation in STEM fields
- Are less likely to be killed by police as well as have less force used on them than POC. (More sources HERE, HERE, HERE)
- Are the number one contributors to mass shootings.
These men are already in positions of power and have fewer obstacles than others in regards to societal gains. They also contribute to the largest amount of mass shootings in the US…more so than terrorist organizations.
The privileges of white men are not going to be erased…they never have been. No one is taking anything away from them in regards to civil liberties.
Many groups who protest speak out for equal pay, equal marriage, police reform, Black Lives Matter, women’s right to their bodies, access to healthcare, LGBTQ rights, and sexism (to name a few). These groups who protest want access to things they do not have, protection for their lives, and/or have had things taken away. Additionally, these groups promote peaceful protest without attacking people counter protesting them…nor do their philosophies promote removal of civil liberties from anyone including white men.
What is it white nationalists fear is going to be erased? Historical significance of white men?
Some white nationalists feel removal of certain statues erase the white man’s history. The Charlottesville “protests” that led to violence on counter protesters were over the change of Robert E. Lee park to Emancipation Park. ..and on the issue of the Robert E. Lee Confederate statue being removed. White nationalists were protesting the name change out of anger/fear of seemingly having the heritage of white men erased…heritage linking to the Civil War and slavery.
Germany banned the use of swastikas in public…or symbols of any political affiliation that would be considered unconstitutional. The World Wars were horrific. It is uncertain to know just how many people were killed. WW2 has a current estimation of 15,000,000 battle deaths, 25,000,000 wounded, 45,000,000 civilians dead. Holocaust deaths are approximately 16,000,000. Germany is open about not being proud of that time period…nor do they need historical reminders.
Furthermore, no one has forgotten Nazi history by removal of swastikas and Nazi propaganda. I do not think it is possible we can forget as we are reminded in our own country of the existence of home grown Nazis.
In the Civil War, we lost more soldiers than we did in WW2. This war, the Civil War, was with our own people. We were not fighting an outside force, nor were we trying to take over the world. We fought our own people with ties in freeing people from slavery. People affected by this war are not people on foreign soil. They are our neighbors. They are our own people. They are descendants of those who were brought to this country illegally and bred to serve white men. Is this something we should be proud of and heritage we should flaunt?
It is my thought that such a tumultuous time with all of the information available both in historical record, books, and as I have pointed out…vast amounts of info on the internet…we do not need constant reminders of how horrible we have been in the past. We have the whole of the internet, books, and museums to remind us as well as white nationalists.
We can add to history and its motives through science and study. Science is opening the door to understanding actual issues associated with white supremacy through studies involving societal studies of white privilege, gender roles, genetics, effects of hate speech, toxic masculinity, effects of racism, effects of sexism, and sexual spectrum. There is a multitude of information available that can be associated with white nationalism and the problems it causes when one group works to oppress another.
I do not think it is necessary to go into all of the types of oppression. We have groups who actively work to raise awareness. I suggest clicking on the hyperlinks I provided to learn more about each group and what it is they wish to accomplish in regards to equality.
Let’s discuss a bit of white nationalist philosophy and consider what would happen if they continued onto gain further power.
In regards to a genetically superior race…
Many white people have African heritage found in their DNA. As many as 1 in 10 people in the Southern US have African heritage. Genetic superiority in regards to skin color is an argument based in fallacy. The MCR1 gene is 1 of 6 genes associated with skin color. Skin color is NOT a race. While there is there a connection with skin color and ancestral roots, it is not perfect. It is sensitive to various parameters within the gene pool of a population. Many people associate their race to location and not genetics.
Race is a human construct, not a genetic/biological one. The more we understand about genetics, the more we realize we are more alike than different on a biological level.
Lessons from history…
We have the Alt Right now presenting NAZI symbols and rhetoric. It is a fair conclusion to call them Nazis as they are presenting themselves as such. As mentioned before, it is no secret as to what philosophies Nazis represent…all of which oppress people who are not aryan/white men. It is important to remember what history has taught us and openly discuss what is happening. Art is an important medium in that it can give us multi-sensory insight as to potential realities of NAZIS and aid us in learning/communicating.
What is a Nazi reality? What does it look like?
Women are meant for babies and to be at home as mothers without a need to work or learn. To gain a bit of perspective to the implications if placed in an American construct of society, The Handmaid’s Tale book adaptation on HULU has already inspired protests across the US. The plot shows an America where women are stripped of rights and those who are fertile are forced into slavery to become pregnant through coerced rape or suffer penalties including torture and maiming. Women are not allowed to read. The university educated ones are immediately silenced. Women are baby makers under complete control of the men. Court is handled by men and Christian scripture is used as a justification of torture, murder, punishment, and oppression. All of these images in the TV adaptation show a modern day America with a chilling and frightening display of not only men but women oppressing other women in order to stay alive. It is a solid representation of the potential cruelty if Nazi ideals managed to win control and enslave women.
LGBTQ people are meant to be persecuted and destroyed. LGBTQ people already live in a volatile America where people attempt to legally discriminate against them as adults and as children. These individuals have been murdered, assaulted, and tortured for who they are. Bills including bathroom use as well as allowing discriminatory practices in schools are regularly discussed in Congress. Under the Nazi regime, LGBTQ people were murdered and tortured. The film Bent tells the story of a man sent to a concentration camp who denies he is gay so is treated as a Jew. These stories are not told enough. This film gives insight to an experience of a man who is gay and tortured for being so. An America with such individuals who would legally kill LGBTQ people when they have already had to fight for equality (with gay marriage just now being legal since 2015) would be an easy target as they are the newest marginalized group to receive some headway in their civil rights.
Since this is America with a volatile history of oppression and murder of POC, the KKK are involved with the Alt Right Nazis. Not only are POC and LGBTQ endangered, Jews and immigrants are now endangered as well as this group has a history attacking and/or murdering them. Insight as to what happens with white supremacy and POC can be found in the films like Rosewood, Detroit, and Malcolm X. These films are only a few examples of the horror and inequality POC have experienced in America. Having had a Civil War to eradicate slavery (where they were also soldiers) and giving civil rights at a slow crawl of progress, POC have a valid fear involving white people and those in authoritative positions. It is important to remember the Civil Rights Movement is still exceedingly young with individuals in Congress (John Lewis) who marched for equality alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. There is still rampant racism in this country as POC continue to fear for their safety in the presence of police and white individuals. The white nationalists at this protest identified themselves with KKK and Nazis. They were armed with militia and a group of them beat a man with poles while police did not rush to his aid. In an already volatile social state, POC who already experience violence for the color of their skin would be swiftly targeted as these Nazi individuals are not quiet about their hatred. A Nazi America would be a swift return to the times of lynching and legal torture as well as murder for POC.
Nazis perverted science using it as a means to torture people and make technology to keep others oppressed as well as working to have more efficient ways to commit genocide. They tortured and murdered people in order to generate technology to be more efficient in killing. Ethics were unnecessary for Nazi’s as they killed indiscriminately and experimented on people whom they deemed “lesser”. Modern science is regulated heavily by ethics and laws to ensure no one is harmed by any clinical trials. A Nazi America would see a shift in science removing not just ethics but diversity from it by eliminating women, POC, and anyone who is not aryan/white male. History has shown us that diversity in STEM is productive in that different people are good at different things. Different minds coming together can solve any problems.The Hidden Figures film tells the story of women of color who coded the NASA computers where one, Kathryn Johnson calculated trajectories to help get men on the moon. We see a small glimpse into the oppression they experienced as women of color in STEM. An America run by white supremacists would eliminate all of the diversity of minds in our STEM fields halting scientific progress and removing standards of ethics…thus allowing great minds to legally torture and murder people through perversion of science.
The white nationalist movement can not be anything other than association with hatred and oppression of people by using the most horrific ways possible.
It is not a movement to stop white men from being erased, as we can not possibly forget any history regarding them as they have dominated its record. It is a movement to gain total control over any group who is not white and compliant. They are violent pushing fear by toting guns with militia backup. They run over peaceful protesters with their cars. They beat POC with poles. They scream racial slurs in anger hoping to frighten people while peddling propaganda and using violence in order to silence people who speak out.
Let’s discuss rising sound of white nationalism, laws, and the election…
What will happen if these individuals are allowed to continue and progress to a stronger presence as they have been on the rise since 2016 ? They are getting louder in number. They are not wearing hoods. They are proud of their affiliations. They are in universities pushing their personal agendas…no longer hiding their racism and threatening to sue if they are let go.
Social media is being implemented as a tool to identify individuals who are proud white nationalists as a means to alert their places of work to let their employers know what their employees represent. These individuals are hoping to influence employers to fire the white nationalists who wish to discriminate against their customers. GoDaddy is canceling the hosting agreement with Daily Stormer (a white supremacist site) due to violating the terms of service due to an uproar about an article it posted on Heather Heyer shaming her. Freedom of speech is not free and it has a cost especially when doing business with a public funded company.
I discuss further in my Freedom of Speech article the weight words have on your “court of public opinion” status. While it is entirely legal for white nationalists to assemble and speak their hateful rhetoric and inciting fear through imagery, they are not protected from the court of public opinion. Public opinion funds businesses. Businesses fund the government as we see heavy campaign contributions and lobbying practices.
The election and current administration…
Donald Trump has extensive ties to the Alt Right movement who now associate themselves with Nazis and KKK groups (see previous hyperlinks). The 2016 election showed an incredibly low turnout of 58% of eligible voters. Among those voter approximately 25% voted for Donald Trump. Many were white men also educated and 52% of white women who voted, cast their vote for Trump. It is important to note that if the majority of white nationalists voted (and voted for Trump as he campaigned hatred and emboldened white supremacists) these individuals represent a minority of the country. They do not hold a majority in the general population. However, it is important to pay attention to the behaviors of those in Congress in regards to their responses to these white nationalists as they are the ones who work to make bills become laws.
Thoughts on responding in regards to white nationalism…
Many people are counter protesting the marches of white nationalists. It is unfortunately becoming increasingly dangerous for them to do so as these protests have ended in violence on the parts of the Nazi supporters through vehicular manslaughter and assault. Some individuals are using the Countable app to contact their representatives as well as keep up to date on how their Congressmen vote on bills. Your representatives can easily be made aware your views and your intentions on the upcoming election. Finding out who funds their campaigns and making phone calls to those businesses could likely make a difference.
Additionally, it is important to call your local government and ask them what their plans are in regards to white supremacist demonstrations and how they are going to ensure no one is harmed at these marches. Placing responsibility on the local government to protect counter protesters will help the local authorities understand violence is not tolerated.
Another option is to take to social media and learn the identities of individuals who proudly support Nazi rhetoric and call their bosses (as mentioned earlier). Businesses respond to customers who complain.
Educate yourself on policies and laws both local and national in regards to discrimination, threats, and violence so that you have an understanding as to what is/is not legal.
There have been some cases where free speech versus violent threats have gone back and forth as to where the line is drawn. With the philosophies of white nationalists, Nazis, and the KKK coupled with violence at their rallies, it may be time to discuss what the limits of free speech are in regards to groups who actively use rhetoric meant to instill fear of harm and philosophies based in race superiority with a history of genocide.
At what point do the marches/protests of the white nationalists who associate themselves with Nazis and the KKK go beyond the “free speech line” into threatening of bodily harm and death as seen with their groups recent violence in Charlottesville, VA?
The supreme court maintains that offensive rhetoric is protected, and that there is no “hate speech” according to the 1st Amendment. What happens if that speech carries to consistent violence and instilling bodily harm? It is time to have these discussions and address the violence associated with the KKK, white nationalists, and Nazis in America. If there is going to be a large show of police force at a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest with no violence by the protesters, there needs to be an equivalent if not larger police and SWAT presence at white nationalist marches as they are proven to be violent. A federal judge allowed the rally in Charlottesville. However, the protest started early (the night before) without approval. It is time for federal judges to reassess public safety and individuals who mean to do others harm.
White nationalism and the Alt Right is not about preserving the heritage of white men…The violent behavior and fear inducing rhetoric as well as imagery is not about preserving history. History has been written by white men. How can we forget? There are other countries who have removed shameful reminders of their past and do not forget the time period. Our country had a Civil War fighting to free people from slavery costing hundreds of thousands of lives. We later entered WW2 (rather late) aiding to liberate people from Nazi oppression (costing soldier lives). We had 2 wars over battling the evil we see in slavery (racism) and Nazi oppression (racism). These white nationalist individuals are siding with the very people we fought against and died battling for their evils. This movement is not about preserving history. It is about maintaining/increasing privilege and removing/preventing civil rights of others.
An America where white nationalists who hold the company of Nazis and KKK is an oppressive one. They already are the largest contributors to mass shootings. In a white nationalist controlled world, we lose great minds in science, lose ethics in research, destroy lives… murder, torture, and oppress people. It would be an ignorant America full of fear, death, and hatred…if we learn anything from history.
The fine line of free speech and threat is fuzzy with white supremacist groups. It is up to the court of public opinion to use their voices to counter the hate speech as these groups are a minority. This is a capitalist country where business matters. Free speech allows the opportunity to say things without fear of jail, but that does not prevent losing business and employment. Contacting businesses and local governments as well as Congresspeople will aid in holding them accountable for the violent behaviors of people in the community. It is also time for federal courts to address public safety in regards to white supremacist marches as they pose a viable threat.
I welcome any input in productive dialogue as to better resources for my hyperlinks and means to educate others. I hope this piece is informative. It is an opinion but based in relevant facts as well as historical record.
Opinion is my own and it is my heart that wishes for a peaceful nation with equality and a level field so all can prosper and be happy.
Thank You For Reading,