I’ve spent a lot of time in Charlottesville over the years. It’s a lovely college town with a population of 45K when the University of Virginia isn’t in session. Dr. A spent her formative years in Staunton 45 miles away, and studied and worked in Charlottesville. We know and love the place. We still have friends there including Parenthetical who wrote a guest post about the May warmup demonstration aka the Klanbake.
Charlottesville is not your typical “moonlight and magnolias” Southern college town. UVA alums think of their school as a Southern outpost of the Ivy League and the town is full of preppies, not bubbas. But just like ANYWHERE in America, there are bigots, xenophobes, and racists nearby. Never forget that one of the ugliest fights over school desegregation took place in liberal Boston. And the president* who gave a green light to the self-styled alt-right is from liberal New York. It may be trite to say it but racism and bigotry are an American, not Southern, problem. It’s everywhere.
About the post title. I’ve mostly used the labels Lost Causers and Lost Cause Fest to describe the anti-monument removal protesters in New Orleans. Since Richard Spencer is not tied to my city (David Dukkke must be slipping), we saw less neo-Nazi shit here but who are bigger losers in history than the Nazis? The Lost Cause label fits them and will remain affixed to their odious cause here at First Draft.
I’m a writer so words mean a great deal to me. I remain conflicted as to what exactly to call the self-styled alt right. I lean in the direct of calling them white nationalists as a way of linking them to the right-wing nationalist movements in Europe. I tend to prefer the label neo-Nazis to just plain Nazis because the latter word is tied to a specific time, place, and people. I am not, however, going to quibble over those terms: a Fascist is a Fascist is a Fascist.
It’s obvious that the right-wing extremist groups who gathered in Charlottesville hope to replicate the Nazi vs. Communist street thuggery that preceded the Nazi takeover of Germany. The anti-fa folks are playing into their hands but it’s hard to argue with someone who defends themselves. Tension in Charlottesville was exacerbated by Virginia’s status as an open carry state. While I think that’s madness, there is a way to reduce the level of thuggery at future demonstrations in open carry states. Many of the neo-Nazi, unmasked Klan types were carrying riot shields, helmets, and billy clubs or baseball bats. Those items can be proscribed in the permitting process thereby allowing the cops to remove a person possessing them from the scene of the future crime. Legislative action would be better but I’m not holding my breath.
I was at a birthday party for a good friend on Saturday night. There was much talk about Charlottesville and the Insult Comedian’s non-statement about the neo-Nazi riot. As Athenae pointed out yesterday, there aren’t MANY SIDES to this issue. It’s a choice between fundamental human decency and hate. I’d like to focus on another side of Trump’s poorly delivered and half-assed remarks:
My administration is restoring the sacred bonds of loyalty between this nation and its citizens, but our citizens must also restore the bonds of trust and loyalty between one another. We must love each other, respect each other, and cherish our history and our future together. So important. We have to respect each other. Ideally, we have to love each other.
On the surface this sound okay because he talks about love, trust, and loyalty. The key phrase is in bold face: this is whoever wrote the remarks (my money is on Miller) way of signalling to the Lost Causers that Trump is on their side. This march was allegedly about keeping a monument to Robert E. Lee and cherishing history as seen by Richard Spencer and erstwhile Gret Stet Fuhrer David Dukkke. It’s certainly how they understood his remarks as historian Rick Perlstein pointed out on his Facebook feed:
I let Rick read the Daily Stormer so we didn’t have to.
It’s telling that a president* who is willing to attack gold star families, disabled reporters, Kim Jong-un, and Chinless Mitch by name is unwilling to call out neo-Nazis and Lost Cause racists. Why? They’re part of his base. Even if Trump is forced into naming names, it will be grudging, half-hearted, and meaningless. We know where he stands. He’s one of them.
It’s time for some comic relief. One of the twitter feeds I’ve been enjoying of late is Yes, You’re Racist. This particular exchange made me laugh on a rather grim weekend:
The picture of that slack-jawed preppie moron led to this bon mot by one of my favorite people on the tweeter tube, me:
Mosley was, of course, the leader of the pre-World War II British Union of Fascists. I half way expected to see the banner of his party waved in Charlottesville last weekend:
If you see the flag at future Lost Cause Fest events, you know what it is.
The best thing I’ve read about the events in Charlottesville came from Slate’s Dahlia Lithiwck who lives there. Here’s how she finished her piece:
The Nazis may come to town, terrorize and threaten people with guns, even brutally murder a young woman. This president may fail to condemn it. But all right-thinking Americans will recoil in horror. And white supremacists will be replaced. There is no room for them here. On Saturday they were relegated to parking at the shopping mall and walking miles in the hot sun, in their sad supervillain Comic-Con outfits. Today they are already slinking back to their own homes, where they are also being replaced, by history, by moral justice, and by our children, who are growing up exactly where they belong, at home, irreplaceable, sacred, and, especially today, brave.
I should give Dahlia the last word but I want to circle back to the featured image of Captain American punching Hitler. I am not an advocate of violence but Nazi punching strikes me (pun intended, it always is) as the least bad and most understandable form of violence. People who attend a rally packing heat below their absurd tiki torches deserve mockery and the odd punch. I’ll stick to the former but I’m beyond sermonizing about the latter.
The last word is part of my continuing effort to prove that there’s a Kinks song for every situation. This song is about Captain America asking for help in a troubled time:
I remember, when you were down
And you needed a helping hand
I came to feed you
But now that I need you
You won’t give me a second glance
Now I’m calling all citizens from all over the world
This is Captain America calling
I bailed you out when you were down on your knees
So will you catch me now I’m falling
The song was written for 1979’s Low Budget album but rings truer than ever: