After the events of August 11th and 12th of 2017, the city of Charlottesville, VA and the United States would never remain the same again.
In fact, the Charlottesville, 'Unite the Right' rally not only shook the town’s core but deepened the wound for the nation at large regarding social issues and race relations.
What was supposed to be a relatively “quiet” summer night at the University of Virginia, Richard Spencer and Jason Kessler had other plans.
The two white supremacists organized, executed, and led the ‘Unite the Right’ rally featuring many hate groups including members of the alt-right, neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates, and Klansmen.
The rally resulted in counter protests, arrests made, infamous Trump statements, a young white woman’s death, a vicious beating of a young black man (which would reach the courtroom), and jarring photos of young white men marching in the streets.
Centered around this rally was the opposition of removing a statue of Robert E. Lee in Emancipation Park. Although it was ordered by the City Council of Charlottesville to be covered in a black shroud, the shroud was removed about six months later from the rally. The statue still stands today.
With that said, many statues of historical figures have been called into question since. Some were quietly removed. And let’s say…some had been taken down by force thanks to counter protesters to the far-right.
One year later, a lot has happened in the city and the country as a whole.
For better and worse, the rally seemed like a domino effect for the lining of issues and events that would continue scrutinizing the country. Issues and events that even seeped into our favorite hobbies. Such as when NFL and current Eagles defensive end Chris Long spoke up on the events that transpired in the town he grew up in.
Individuals from Long to Trump had expressed themselves with their thoughts as it concerned the rally, social issues in America, statues, and viable solutions.
However, what about the common everyday person? Those who aren’t yet the voice of the voiceless? People with not much opportunity to release their thoughts on a wider scope? That’s where this blog comes.
Last year, fellow friends and acquaintances had a chance to speak with me regarding the events that took place last year. With the one-year anniversary
taking place, now is a robust time for allowing those to enter a retrospect state of mind involving the event and the state of our country relating to these controversies.
The blog will be split up into three parts. Each containing two questions and being followed up with answers that hit a certain level of intrigue. And then using answers to compare and contrast expressed thoughts and emotions.
Each post varies apropos in length. More or less responses may be added towards a question. Or the response itself could vary in length. Follow up questions may also come into play.
Either way, looking back and observing what was said was interesting to see. And if this small sample size of diverse backgrounds and upbringings indeed resembles a good amount of the younger generation, then a fascinating future awaits.
Q1: How do you feel about what's been happening with the Charlottesville protest and the aftermath of the event over the past few weeks?
I think that they look extremely stupid because they're fighting for causes that aren't even real. They don't have a struggle that ANY person of color has experienced. It's also unsettling to see a lot of hatred resurface and show itself in such large numbers so fast. And we have a dear president to thank for all of it. He's the one who has sparked it. These protests make me so disappointed in the fact that I didn't think we had SO MUCH homophobia, xenophobia, prejudice, bigotry, and racism left in this country. It honestly makes me see America as a joke.
My initial emotional reaction is disgust, fear, and embarrassment. As a straight, white, waspy woman, I regret sharing any commonality with them. As a human being, I am heartbroken that anyone could hold these beliefs. I am ashamed they feel so emboldened in their hatred and ignorance to march openly in the streets. They don't even bother hiding their face anymore. My secondary strategic response is that the benefit of them marching so openly without disguises is that we can learn their identities. Their transparency can lead us to where they’re meeting, how they're coordinating, and how they're recruiting. Then we can use this additional information to hopefully help solve the problem.
I'm outraged and appalled that states have and still are approving permits for white supremacists and Nazis to gather. I'm not shocked at the violence that ensued, how useless the police were in Charlottesville, and that all these white men "militia" felt safe carrying guns to the protest. I'm also disappointed that it took the death of a white person for people to be this outspoken and angry about race relations in America. I'm disgusted that there are still white people trying to downplay or make excuses on what's going on. The protest in Boston reassures me that good people are still the majority but...not where it counts (in Senate & house).
Although they are terrible, I expected protests and marches like this after Trump won the presidency. The ‘far right’ believe they have a friend and supporter in the Trump administration—because of this, they believe they can gather without consequences. Having a permit does not give you the right to sprout hate on American soil and once the swastikas and the anti-Semitic rhetoric came out, it stopped being about statues and the “preservation of history.”.
Q2: With that said, should everything, protesting included, be protected under free speech? If not, where should the line be drawn?
My only concern on protesting in general is that we aren’t practicing our freedom of speech with love. Protesting is often seen as "negative" which is why police are always involved in breaking them up. Now I see those protesting peacefully growing tired, which is understandable because in life you practice your kindness and when it's taken for weakness, that is when you get fed up and turn to negative alternatives. People are tired of protesting and not getting anywhere with it. They want action and respect, yet patience is running thin. General protesting is also becoming dangerous to those that protest in peace.
With that said, my condolences to the woman that died for protesting peacefully. However, it's a shame how a white woman’s death speaks more volumes. I truthfully see both sides of this situation but ultimately, I do feel for the protesters. They want to be heard but they cannot lose their peacefully delivery. Violence on violence only creates war. We need more love leaders. We need more people of color and love in the justice system. We need more spiritual activists. We need more genuine speakers that not only speak for black people, but speak for everyone that is against capitalism, racism, classism, and vileness. We need to grow of this box that the government created for us.
I don't dismiss anyone's right to freedom of speech. One of the core tenants of American politics is the right to free and peaceful assembly. Seeing Nazi flags and symbols being flown in America is terrifying and begins to infringe on the 'peaceful' aspect of protest. That's where I begin to have the problem. Calling for the extermination and removal of entire cultures/races/ethnicities' is a direct call for violence. I think the counter protests for example were well justified. For every group, there will always be opposition.
Secondly, as a Jew in America I do admit that I feel disconnected from my religion. I was raised in a Jewish community and I was lucky to not deal with anti-Semitism at all. But now? I have been seriously considering how loud I say that I am Jewish and will be more careful around who I say it to. Directly because of the protests. Compare the woman's march to the alt right march. The women's march didn't kill anybody, the Charlottesville march had someone run over innocent bystanders with a car.
That's where the argument gets touchy because America is said to have freedom of speech which is awesome but even then, people don't even realize how controlled their actions are. That goes for all generations. Now drawing the line must be done by government, they've allowed too much leeway for a group such as the KKK.
For instance, look at Germany, if anyone even saluted the way Nazis did as a joke, they would be arrested. They are disgusted with that portion of their history and made it clear that it will not be tolerated while still giving their people freedom. Here? We decide to let a hate group roam around with hate in their hearts that they will only pass on to their kids. Hate that is now causing uprisings. This group even if they do not practice the harsh physical acts that they used to, are still part of this country and for some reason we just won't get rid of them.
I do believe there is a line that should be drawn; when violence occurs. It’s not cool if someone wants to be a bold racist but they do have that right. It’s a strange trade off because violence is never the answer. When violence starts, our voices don’t matter and that’s the point we’re at as a country.
There should definitely be a line drawn. Like when I see a confederate flag being waved in the air as if it's a trophy, all I can feel is hate. It's predominantly white people who I see wave this flag and all of them have this hate and "issue" with anyone of color. I've never experienced racism personally but I can't imagine the pain someone could feel from it.
As a Marine I don't see "color.” We are all equal, which as you can see isn't true, but I fight for this country because it's the country that I live in which has the people I love. But how am I supposed to fight for the people who don't like Latinos such as myself? And who don't like any other race because it's not up to par with them? That flag is an evil omen in my opinion and these protesters are hiding behind this flag as if it's a shield from anything that comes their way.
I don't think the government should arrest folks for being racist but that's kind of the extent of free speech's protections under our law. The issue with the "free speech" defense of the white nationalists is the opposing parties to their awful rhetoric are using their free speech too and just letting them know they don't respect those views nor want them around. Whenever physical violence does happen, it's not like no one doesn't expect anyone to go to jail for it. It's an accepted consequence of the actions, (whether you think the action is justified outside of a legal sense is another question).
But shouting down white nationalist rhetoric is the same act under free speech. Just skipping the civil discourse stage history has shown to have pretty fraudulent progress in most cases.
Q3: President Trump infamously blamed both sides for the Charlottesville incident but then also walked some of his words back. What was your reaction to that?
Expecting decency from Trump has long left the barn. This is a white nationalist administration. But again, logic doesn't seem to cut it as much as hoped.
Not sure how everything escalated in Charlottesville, but I saw the footage of people getting intentionally ran over. Trump is only exposing himself even more by blaming both sides. Freedom of speech should never result in death.
The point is, you can't compare neo-Nazis and the KKK with counter protesters. What the president should have initially done is denounce the mere presence of these groups in America.
Oh, that was a no brainer. He didn't do what he should have done. Now I get it must be pressuring to make any sort of press conference, but this was white and black. Day and night. There was no in the middle.
People are being targeted for the sexuality, race, religion, even gender. They didn't do anything to promote this incessant hate. Given that it's always existed, these same groups of people have always had to be extra cautious of their words and actions as to not put a target on their own head. So, no I don't think anything of what Trump said is true; this is entirely the fault of the one side.
So as a Muslim, how do you feel in a social climate like this? Do you blow it off or is there a part of you that has a level of concern?
I'm a little bit caught in the middle. I'm absolutely terrified for the safety of my family. But I also know that many of Trump’s attempts at profiling and following Muslims never really took off the ground. I like to believe that whatever Allah challenges us with, he thinks we can overcome. I'm not too afraid for myself.
Q4: In the latest form of protest, statues, monuments, and memorials of figures in history who hold a mixed past, have been destroyed, taken down, or questioned in place. What are your thoughts on this recent phenomenon?
To answer your question, I highly commend the community leaders (for example mayor of Baltimore), who took down some of these statues overnight quietly. I feel like that's just the way you have to do it. Construction workers fix roads in the middle of the night to avoid traffic. Leaders can take down these statues overnight to avoid unnecessary protest.
Maybe that’s insensitive to say it's "unnecessary,” but those people want to celebrate slavery and they lost, (in loose terms; I think slavery still exists but in other subtle ways in our society). For all the people crying, "you’re erasing history,” put them in a museum then. Tell the truth about what they were fighting for. Stop using these cheaply, mass produced statues to intimidate and offend. It's the wrong side of history and no one should feel emboldened to celebrate it publicly how we've seen lately.
I think those things should be moved to museums. I think they are a part of history just like many other horrible historic moments. Such as things from Genghis Khan’s time period yet we keep those. I don't agree with them staying up in public areas. I would rather see them taken down and put into museums for people to educate themselves on the history. History, whether good or bad, needs to be preserved so we learn from it.
I'm totally cool with confederate statues being taken down. I think if people want civil war era monuments placed in public places, it should be of the slaves and the horrors of slavery. This was done in Germany for the holocaust. If you want to learn from the past, give the victims a voice.
I'm cool with keeping artifacts of questionable historical figures as long as the point isn't to glorify them. However, it's difficult to argue glorification isn't the goal 98% of the time. So, I'm pro-taking them down. Of course, in this specific case with the Confederate monuments, the glorification isn't really about the individual Confederates themselves but the white supremacy goals they stand for. No one really cares about Robert E. Lee like that. But a lot of folks aren't here for anyone telling them how to feel about him either.
Q5: Does the common phrase, "Love trumps Hate" carry some kind of weight in assisting with solving the issues that plague this country? Or does it perhaps go deeper than that?
Nah I think that is pretty powerful.
Well my thoughts on that is it was superficial in the beginning during the election because it was just people hating a figure in Trump. Now that he's president and things are making a left turn, I do think it forms as a community because people can agree on what they actually hate about Trump and connect. It's psychology that people connect over common dislikes. As far as solving problems it does go deeper because people can hate Trump and what he does but not hate how he is the leader of modern white supremacist movement and how his political influences make it harder for the common minority in the work place or socially.
Far deeper. People don't have to love each other for us to live in a better world. They just need to respect and accept each other's differences. No matter what views one may hold, those views do not get to trump another's right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.
I really do think that love can conquer anything. Fighting fire with fire isn't the best way to try working things out. Yes, there have been past efforts of us doing things peacefully and still receiving violence in return, but whenever people see that the protests are peaceful, and protestors still receive violence, I have noticed that it causes an outrage and there's nothing much that the alt right can say. It's more so a, “don't give them anything to use against you” thing.
Love is always the end result to anything. Without love we cannot solve problems. without love we can never go deeper. Yes, love trumps hate. We cannot fix the world without love we will only make it worse. I believe love overshadows all. We are love. We were just programmed to hate ourselves and when we hate ourselves we project hate onto the world.
It's deeper than that. It goes deeper than love, prayer and hope. Change comes with actions such as voting, showing up to council meetings, and having dialogues.
What do you say to those that think those methods are ineffective?
That dialogue and voting is ineffective? I would say staying at home and doing nothing is even worse.
Much deeper than that. Love can help, but not all activism is peaceful. Sometimes you need to say painful truths in order to get people going. Love can open the door and love can potentially heal, but love won't stop an armed militia. Love won't prevent innocent lives from dying.
To piggyback off of that, what solution would you suggest that would help solve our country's social issues?
I'll be honest with you, I don't know. I'm not a political scientist nor am I an activist. I'm just some dude who has decent morals I hope. But I think a lot is about listening and education. Nobody is talking to each other, everybody is just yelling.
Bonus: In that case, some see groups like Antifa/Alt-left & BLM on the similar tiers as these hate groups in the way they carry themselves. In that case, Trump then blamed both sides. What would be your takeaway from this?
I disagree with the notion that BLM and such affiliates are on equal par to alt right groups. Their ultimate goals are not aligned. To assume that any group that assembles to promote their goal can be classified in the same tier is to dismiss the importance of what they're fighting for. I'm concerned that moderates who view groups like BLM protesting for equal rights who can consider them on the same tier as the alt right, are actually experiencing unexplored prejudices they probably don't even realize they carry.
Minority groups across the racial, sexual, and religious spectrum are often seen as more threatening than they actually are. It's akin to someone tensing up on a plane when they see another plane passenger wearing a turban, or a young black man getting shot because he was perceived to be reaching for a gun. Meanwhile, alt right protesters can bang on police shields and openly carry guns with little to no consequences. It's not that these groups carry themselves similarly to alt right groups, it's that alt left groups protesting for equality have the disadvantage of already being seen as a threat.
Bonus: Do you believe that it's mostly the privileged who is responsible for solving these issues or is it more of a two-way street?
Yes. Similarly, to how it's men's duty to fix sexism and cisgender folks' duty to end transphobia. The privileged are the ones who are creating the issues and power discrepancies.
I do believe in white privilege. I also believe we allowed it to go on. We can solve problems just as much as these privileged white men. Barack Obama is proof. In a sense it is a two-way street.
During the 75th annual Golden Globes, Oprah Winfrey was awarded the Cecil B. Demille Award. One of the highest honors someone in show business can receive. What happened afterward she received the award was nothing short of charismatic excellence.
She gave a chilling and inspirational speech, one that can be considered as an all-timer. One that will be remembered for years to come. Suddenly, everyone including myself believed that “Me too” could turn into “Their time is up”. A new day would indeed be on the horizon. Oprah is great in this regard. She knows how to rally the troops.
Now knowing how much we lack self-awareness and love to live in the moment, after that speech the grand question became, should Oprah run for President of the United States in 2020? She has the money, support, likability, charisma, and intelligence. Why not?
In theory it sounds like a great idea. The other incentive in this? Not only would she be the first women president, she would be the first ever black women to hold office. To some people that’s an important thing. Positive representation is inspiring.
With that said, Oprah, no, don’t do it, please don’t do it.
Just like how we don’t need Kanye West, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, or Kid Rock running for some type of high office, we don’t need Oprah to either.
Human nature is funny. We generally don’t learn from the trial and errors of our way in history. You think the saying, “history always repeats itself” was made for jokes? Nope. There’s a reason for that.
We elected two celebrities within the past 40 years to hold office. People smarter than me on this topic tell me the Reagan era wasn’t really it especially on how it impacted black people. The Trump era is clearly an annoying nightmare.
So why should we entertain the possibility of another entertainer running it back in two years?
Just because she said cordial things? That’s not how any of this works. Those who are pushing the narrative of Oprah 2020 might be missing the overall theme of her speech or are just looking for any glimpse of a post-Trump era victory they can find.
There are also questions to be had concerning this Oprah hoopla.
One, she’s a billionaire. Some people don’t view billionaires in a good light. They view them as apathetic towards regular people and doing whatever they can to allocate funds to their pockets. Now I’m not sure if they view Oprah in the same light because of the amount of giving she has done for decades but again, questions will be asked.
Two, she’s a Black woman. Black women, are generally discredited and disrespected from many if not all walks of life. They do the most work and it’s often a war to get them the respect and credit they deserve. Oprah might be one of those individuals who ‘transcends’ that. Who doesn’t like Oprah right!? It’s all fun and games until people start to show their true colors though. The country was not kind to a white woman running for president. So, we’re supposed to think a Black woman will ride it out ok?
Now I’m not sure what to make of the Oprah and Harvey Weinstein interactions. The Weinstein controversy was the starting point that led to the public being exposed to the horrors that is Hollywood’s shameful contributions to sexual assault and rape culture.
This led to Oprah’s powerful speech built around empowering women. When you hear the speech, then look at pictures of them interacting, and then take note that Weinstein’s actions were an open secret in the industry, you start to wonder to yourself. It is worth noting that she condemned his action once they became public back in October. Now I won’t question the legitimacy of her speech or intentions. I found it to be genuine. However, someone else may look at this and questions will be asked!
All of this isn’t to take away from what Oprah said. She’s an accomplished woman and should be treated with respect. She is Black excellence and there aren’t many people who can put together words as eloquent as she did. It was a great moment and her qualifications made her the right woman of the moment at the Golden Globes and beyond.
Her current qualifications though, does not warrant a run for political office. And I’m glad her stance on running hasn’t changed (for now).
I’m not sure what the answer is though. People seem to be clearly tired of traditional seasoned politicians which is understandable. I’m pretty sure we won’t ever figure out the answer.
I do know this; the bar is low at this point and time will tell if we’re willing to not just raise the bar but be the bar.
Welcome to the AD report.