In the wake of events currently surrounding Charlottesville, VA, I found myself this morning trying to place my thoughts in order. It is no secret that as a member of the LGBT community, I too have been a victim of prejudice and violence; and while I may not always agree with the forms activism takes, I will always support the scope and mission that each movement takes. Therefore, when it comes to movements such as BLM, though it might not be my preferred method, I wholeheartedly understand why such assembly is necessary and I wish only the best for those who involve themselves in such efforts.
I feel that the point I wanted most to make was that opposing an activity is not at all the same as opposing an entire movement, advice which works both ways especially in a situation like the one we’ve witnessed in the past twenty-four hours. Even if you aren’t one for protests, you can lend your voice to a movement in your own way, whether it’s contributing financially or merely leading by example. At the same time, however, it is rather common for one to condemn a hate group’s acts of terrorism while still secretly supporting what their intentions are. That’s what makes last night’s incident so incredibly scathing.
Currently, there doesn’t seem to be any official name or banner for the white supremacists who stormed the city of Charlottesville last night. Yet they are a movement, and they are fully aware of what their intentions are. The rest of us need also be aware of it, and all of us should make it our duty to go further – much further – in shutting down those intentions before they have another chance to manifest.
Perhaps the most reprehensible argument among sympathizers right now is how other movements have been home to violent behaviors. For anyone to claim that one group gets a free pass for another’s mistakes is by default perpetuating a false premise. Whenever violence erupts at any kind of protest, is it a call-to-action for us to become better people. We should rise above the emotional desire to inflict violence upon others because nobody has the right to become judge, jury and executioner.
Now, let us say for the sake of argument that absolutely zero violence erupted as a result of last night’s assembly. What sort of response might have been waiting for us this morning? Would people have been less inclined to refer to the group as a legitimate threat? Would there be a subset of people who step out from the background and applaud what they feel was a “civilized” protest? What message does that send to society?
It should not matter what a white supremacist group does or does not do. At the end of the day, their M.O. is to spread a misguided belief that one race or creed is better than others. Even if their actions aren’t fully registered among the public, their very existence and rationalization by onlookers inadvertently reinforces that misguided belief in the minds of the people.
Bottom line: We need to stop looking solely at the outcomes of activist moments and start investigating the causes which prompt them. Minorities protest because they are literally in a fight to survive in places where the odds are stacked against them. These are places – in America, no less – where one can be denied housing, lack access to clean drinking water, or are continually subjected to violations of their civil and constitutional rights.
What reason do white supremacists have to fight? What exactly have they been required to give up? What factors relevant to their survival have they been forced to do without? Until that question can be put to bed without a shadow of a doubt, society will have quite a bit of soul searching to do.