Why ‘never again’ can seem a long, long ways off

opinions

August 14, 2017 - 12:00 AM

White supremacists — those who believe their pale skin engenders special privilege — incited riots over the weekend in Charlottesville, Va. Among the ranks in Friday night’s “Unite the Right” march were Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi members carrying torches, Confederate flags, swastikas, and chanting slogans such as “You cannot replace us,” “Jews will not replace us,” “Russia is our friend,” and “Blood and soil,” referring to the pro-Nazi ideology that by virtue of being born in the motherland one is inherently superior.
Heather Heyer, 32, was killed and scores others seriously injured Saturday morning when a car driven by James Fields, 20, of Ohio, plowed into a crowd of counterprotestors — religious leaders and other social justice activists.
In response to the violence President Donald Trump on Saturday placed the blame “on many sides.”
There are two things Mr. Trump cannot bring himself to condemn: Russian President Vladimir Putin and white supremacy. As to the first, it’s under investigation by a special counsel. As to being a racist, Mr. Trump built his brand by attacking the legitimacy of President Barack Obama’s U.S. citizenship, and by keeping alt-right nationalists such as Steve Bannon as advisers.
Mr. Trump has emboldened the alt-right to come out of the shadows.
It’s up to us to shine a light on their evil.

THE WHITE nationalists based their demonstration on the removal of two Civil War statues, referring to it as “white genocide.”
These kinds of people like to rewrite U.S. history. Let us remember Gen. Robert E. Lee’s battle for states’ rights was with the goal to overthrow the U.S. government in an effort to sustain slavery.
Memorializing such people is an affront to every person who dares to believe our U.S. Constitution was based on the premise that this is a country where people are created equal.
To say such statues and icons are necessary to remember our history is hogwash. Do you see statues of Hitler in Germany? Of course not. Because to do so would be a slap in the face to the hundreds of thousands who suffered by his hand. So no, we ought not to glorify those who fought to preserve the institution of slavery. We don’t hold rallies promoting white supremacy. And we don’t pretend we whites, somehow, are now being persecuted. As if we could even imagine.
What do we do?
We recognize that our history includes the ugly violence and dehumanization that is the system of slavery and Jim Crow, and we commit to doing and being better.
This is the power of the phrase, “never again.”

— Susan Lynn

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