America’s historic embrace of the Confederate flag is indicative of a collective failure to eradicate white supremacy as an ideology, and is in great part contributory to the recent attack in Charlottesville
The violence that erupted at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last Saturday can clearly be seen as a wake-up call for America, especially those who repeatedly avow that the world has changed and America is a post-racial society.
Despite the absence of white robes, nooses and burning crosses, the largest organized gathering of armored and armed white supremacists in almost a generation in aptly named Emancipation Park confirmed that the terrible red record of racism in the southern United States is no longer a thing of the past.
The flames of racial hatred are once again illuminated and need to be extinguished. As the marchers’ torches blazed brightly, the presenting image drove gut-wrenching fear and terror into the minds, hearts and souls of African-Americans as they came face to face with a modern-day vision of the past.
The U.S. has openly failed in disrupting or dismantling white supremacy as a prominent ideology. Alternatively, support for white supremacist philosophy has historically been allowed to fester almost unchecked.
Case in point is the Confederate flag–a symbol that was proudly displayed by the white supremacists during the Charlottesville protests. The historic implication of the flag is that it typifies a sect of turncoats who left the Union and went to war to secure a way of life that included white supremacy, Black subordination and chattel slavery. Today, even in the face of this notable history, and General Robert E. Lee’s appeals for the alienating flag to be put to rest, the Confederate flag is still allowed to fly freely, with some form of it even embedded in certain state flags. Contrastingly, in Germany Nazi flags, symbols and insignias were banned following the collapse of the Third Reich in World War 11, and currently it is a criminal offence to display Nazi symbols. http://germanlawarchive.iuscomp.org/
America’s historic endearment and embrace of the Confederate flag is in part contributory to what recently took place in Charlottesville. The chickens came home to roost.
From time immemorial America has been guilty of intellectual dishonesty, perpetually prepared to seek refuge in the go-to-comfort cliché: “This is not America… We are better than this.” Seemingly, it is far much easier to denounce Neo Nazi protestors, but arduous to enact policies that destroy and deflect from the structure and policy of white supremacists.
There may certainly be more to America than Saturday’s ugliness that left death and injury in its wake, but what is not acknowledged cannot be fixed. There are those looking at America the ideal rather than America the actual. We must first see America as it actually is.
In 2009, the Extremism and Radicalization Branch of the Homeland Security formulated a report warning of the significant terror threat posed by white supremacist groups.
This report received harsh criticism and disbelief. Giving in to political pressure, the Department of Homeland Security eventually backed off on the report and dispersed the team that produced the report. The threat of white supremacist ideology received kid gloves treatment even when it attracted increased scrutiny during the last presidential elections.
A name change occurred, the term “alt-right” started being used instead of “white supremacist, “racist” or Neo- Nazi. The, non-profit news agency Associated Press had to eventually disseminate guidelines governing the use as the term was so baffling and lacking in proper context. President Trump was called upon to do much more than ambiguously disclaim hatred “on many sides…” He was expected to denounce the act as terrorism, and to remove from his team of advisers, well known white supremacist leaders such as Steve Bannon, Steve Miller and many others.
In further accord with the president’s action, mainstream popular press outlets are also having the likes of white supremacists like Richard Spencer grace their pages, extolling his eloquence and suave appearance, rather than labelling them as pariahs or components that stimulate racial violence.
It is a held American belief that racism disintegrates as time passes. Be that as it may, reality constantly reveals that racism fluidly conforms to the existing political norms, thereby debunking the idea that it is continuously lessening and diminishing. However, the events in Charlottesville, and the growing movement of frank and brazen white supremacy that it symbolizes, clearly shows that modern racism is converting to its former out-in-the-open form.
Nevertheless, even if America is the symbolism of hatred that the world witnessed on August 12, at the same time it is also in part the bravery we saw epitomized in Heather Heyer, the young white woman who lost her life when a white supremacist drove his car through a crowd of counter-protesters.
Looking at the bigger picture, she did not have to be where she was, doing what she did not have to do, and losing her life as a result, instead she stood up for what’s best in America, and by extension is calling on us to do the same.
To some it may not be America? But to others, sadly, it is what it is—- certainly not “post- racial.”
Aleuta—The struggle continues.