So, I have a different take on Charlottesville: I’m disappointed but not disturbed.
By way of background, it was really weird to arrive home from Germany, where Nazi symbols and slogans are banned, and read about Charlottesville. It was really weird to see the above video, particularly the interviews at minutes 2:43 and 19:42.
And, it was particularly weird to see photos of a protestor, with a Slavic last name (here), make the rounds on social media. He clearly doesn’t know that the Nazis viewed Slavs as Untermenschen, or sub-humans. A Nazi goal in Europe was to enslave Slavic peoples (more here).
I’m always disappointed when I see displays of racism and hatred. But, in this case, I’m not disturbed.
The U.S. population right now is about 323 million people. There are always going to be extremists in “the long tail.” So, while I’m disappointed a few hundred people traveled to Charlottesville, I’m glad it wasn’t a few million. Things were worse in the past. Back in 1939, for example, 22,000 Americans traveled to NYC for a Nazi rally (more here).
Should we always be vigilant about fascism? Of course. Are there ways to use Charlottesville for good? Yes. For example, we’ve had some good family discussions.
But, I think there are personal lessons learned, too. One of my personal takeaways is that you really cannot change other people. Members of the far right have a distinct POV on what is happening in this country. I don’t think rational debate is going to convince them otherwise. The President will have his own views, and he is free to express them. I don’t view it as my job to change him, as I think that would be a waste of my time.
We live in a great country. I think it is the finest in the world. In spite of our weaknesses, we do offer opportunity and freedom of speech. In spite of our own personal biases or discrimination, there are many stories of people working hard and achieving much.
So, I’m not disturbed by Charlottesville. In fact, I’m glad that those protesters didn’t hide under a white sheet. They were out and about and publicizing their ideology. It’s their right to do so.
Moreover, I personally feel I am not learning much about what the protestors in Charlottesville have to say. Their arguments are very similar to what we’ve seen in the past: the Know Nothing Party in the 1850s, Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, the Klan in the 1920s, South Africa during apartheid, etc.
Those arguments have always existed and always will. They’re based on ideology and, therefore, are not subject to facts or rational debate. It’s the view that “blood” matters and the “purer” the blood, the more superior you are to others.
So, by writing this post, I am “moving on” from Charlottesville. In a large county, there are going to be those from the fringes, and, frankly, I have better uses for my time.
2 pm edit:
After a board meeting, I decided I needed to go to Rami’s in Brookline. Pita bread from Israel? Delicious shawarma? Why, yes, please.
And, I am confident, no Nazis in sight.
All is well.