Thoughts/actions on Charlottesville

“White Lives Matter” was a motto of the racist rampage in Charlottesville. Heather A. Heyer, murdered by a Nazi, was white.

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Many Germans had to die so that Hitler could come to power and flourish. The killing of many, many whites, particularly the most honorable ones, was bred by racism. Many more died in World War II…

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In Charlottesville, many whites participated in the counter-protest along with blacks, native-americans, latinos – a rainbow of colors. They defended themselves against predatory violence.

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The new anti-fa group Redneck Revolt – an anti-racist, armed group, drawn from poor whites especially in the South and Midwest, going to places where poor whites hang out and talking directly to the people, and admiring the great American hero John Brown – saved his life, reports my friend Cornel West. He was one of 20 ministers who spoke at a Church in Charlottesville, Friday night, suddenly confronted with a large, armed, violent, racist mob.

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The ministers were singing “this little light of mine.” They would have been beaten and murdered.

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Here is an account of life saving defense and self-defense by the anti-fa from one of the women there:

“Brandy Daniels
Postdoctoral fellow at the Luce Project on Religion and Its Publics at UVA

It was basically impossible to miss the antifa for the group of us who were on the steps of Emancipation Park in an effort to block the Nazis and alt-righters from entering. Soon after we got to the steps and linked arms, a group of white supremacists—I’m guessing somewhere between 20-45 of them—came up with their shields and batons and bats and shoved through us. We tried not to break the line, but they got through some of us—it was terrifying, to say the least—shoving forcefully with their shields and knocking a few folks over. We strengthened our resolve and committed to not break the line again. Some of the anarchists and anti-fascist folks came up to us and asked why we let them through and asked what they could do to help. Rev. Osagyefo Sekou talked with them for a bit, explaining what we were doing and our stance and asking them to not provoke the Nazis. They agreed quickly and stood right in front of us, offering their help and protection.

Less than 10 minutes later, a much larger group of the Nazi alt-righters come barreling up. My memory is again murky on the details. (I was frankly focused on not bolting from the scene and/or not soiling myself—I know hyperbole is common in recounting stories like these, but I was legitimately very worried for my well-being and safety, so I was trying to remember the training I had acquired as well as, for resolve, to remember why I was standing there.) But it had to have been at least 100 of them this go around. I recall feeling like I was going to pass out and was thankful that I was locked arms with folks so that I wouldn’t fall to the ground before getting beaten. I knew that the five anarchists and antifa in front of us and the 20 or so of us were no match for the 100-plus of them, but at this point I wasn’t letting go.

At that point, more of the anarchists and antifa milling nearby saw the huge mob of the Nazis approach and stepped in. They were about 200-300 feet away from us and stepped between us (the clergy and faith leaders) and the Nazis. This enraged the Nazis, who indeed quickly responded violently. At this point, Sekou made a call that it was unsafe—it had gotten very violent very fast—and told us to disperse quickly.

While one obviously can’t objectively say what a kind of alternate reality or ‘sliding doors’–type situation would have been, one can hypothesize or theorize. Based on what was happening all around, the looks on their faces, the sheer number of them, and the weapons they were wielding, my hypothesis or theory is that had the antifa not stepped in, those of us standing on the steps would definitely have been injured, very likely gravely so. On Democracy Now, Cornel West, who was also in the line with us, said that he felt that the antifa saved his life. I didn’t roll my eyes at that statement or see it as an exaggeration—I saw it as a very reasonable hypothesis based on the facts we had.

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Sekou and I went to Palestine together, with Vincent Harding and Dorothy Cotton in 2012. He is an extraordinarily courageous nonviolent activist – in Ferguson (he is originally from St. Louis) and with 14 ministers in Charlottesville. He tweeted this about antifa:

Osagyefo Sekou
3 hrs ·

2nd Fatwa: If you are a Christian theologian and you think Antifa fighting Nazis is wrong keep Bonhoeffer out of your mouth.

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The Charlottesville police let armed racists go at other people. De’Andre Harris, a guidance counselor, was trapped and beaten (see below). And there are many others on film. There could have been a much larger number of murders.

Brandy and Cornel and Sekou rightly feared for their lives. The armed anarchists protected them.

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On June 6, 1966, James Meredith went by himself on a freedom walk from Memphis to Jackkson. On June 7, a Klan-sniper shot him. King and many others took over the march. There were no police except the KKK in rural Mississippi. King’s nonviolent march was accompanied by the armed Deacons for Self-Defense. When there are no police and no law and the KKK and the Nazis are hunting, even nonviolent protest needs armed protection.

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In revolutionary situations as in Egypt or Tunisia during Arab spring or Eastern Europe in 1989, mass nonviolent protest can succeed dramatically. That is because of the internal conflicts and fall of an oppressor state (see Erika Chenoweth and Maria Stepan, Why Civil Resistance Succeeds). That is because the police and army become unreliable for the old powers.

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It is better to organize mass nonviolent resistance. But self-defense is also important, and where there is no authority and fascists are going to cut people down as they did Heather Heyer and threatened many others, self-defense is justified. Note: it is just to defend yourself against individual attempts to murder you, and for a people to defend itself against aggression – see article 2 section 4 of the UN charter which consecrates this old and common moral understanding.
What anti-fa and others did was exactly this.

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In Charlottesvile, the armed racists were on the scene to do violence. This is coming, in many cities across the country about statues. For Lee and Chief “Justice” Taney and many others are now again seen as traitors and enslavers – and not “beautiful” monuments to be celebrated (the orange toupee signaled again this morning that

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Today Mark Bray, author of the new Antifa Handbook suggests that Nazis came to power in Europe because they were not confronted all out from the first. There is no equivalence he rightly argues between armed Nazis or the KKK – attackers with a long history of violence down to murder Heather Heyer this weekend and anti-racists who seek to stop them. The latter is self-defense, as Cornel and Sekou describe, on behalf of humanity.

Would it not have been better to stop the Nazis when small, before the gas chambers? To bust up the KKK before they could lynch some 3,959 identified so far by the Equal Justice Initiative and hold picnics.

The racist tropes about “violence on all sides” here vanishes in a clear-cut depiction of armed resistance to immediate fascist violence.

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Brian Williams on MSNBC (who often takes a prize for vacuity) and many other commentators spoke as if racist violence were new to Charlottesville. Thomas Jefferson, founder of the University of Virginia was a terrifying slave-owner. Jefferson’s Farm Book records an escaped person being seized, whipped – The declaration of independence goes just so far about “all men,” despising blacks and native americans in its last paragraph about King George stirring up “domestic insurrections” – and sold. Jefferson had a little cubby hole in the room above his bed for Sally Hemings with whom he produced children, whom he kept as slaves and later sold away into further bondage.

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Jefferson had some enlightenment views about education. He founded the University of Virginia. He denied Montesquieu’s eloquent satire of slavery (see Spirit of the Laws, book 15) and Diderot and Rousseau. The enlightenment is based on the thought that each human being is free (has the capacity for freedom). That he was lionized in Paris as an enlightenment person misses his roots in the bondage of others at Monticello and more deeply, his core actions deny the centerpiece of the enlightenment.

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Jefferson was later not happy when the students at University of Virginia – often lazy scions of slave-owners (think Trump Jr.) – brought slaves in to take care of them. More blacks came to Charlottesville this way than these white parasites…

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There is a long, degraded history of Jim Crow and the KKK in Charlottesville.

Slavery , Jim Crow (the extinction of Reconstruction, the only genuinely democratic government, black and white, from below in the American South – and the modern prison system – all racist and genocidal – are linked to capitalism. See WEB Dubois, Black Reconstruction and Tanahisi Coates, for 8 years.

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Some poor whites who had voted for Obama in 2008 against Clinton voted for Trump because they thought (mistakenly) that he was anti-Establishment about war. Clinton’s “3:AM” crusade against Russia made her a target (as the US State Department – cf. Victoria Nuland revealed identifying the new leader in the Ukraine – organized a coup against pro-Russian regime right on the border and threatened regime change in Russia, it seems that the fascist Putin has carried off a coup in the United States against Clinton…).

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The American elite tries to divide poor whites from blacks, to persuade them (and all of us) to live in a society where bigotry toward some “does not matter.” As the least of us is pulled down, the rest of us also suffer . See TaNahisi Coates here ; Michael Reich, Racial Inequality: a Political Economic Analysis, Princeton University Press, 1984)

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Consider the enormous racism toward immigrants – already under Obama, though altered in his last years with the DACA program, and now on steroids under Trump. People are driven underground, fear to drive tyo work (do so separately so that one will remain) or take their children to school, People are afraid to report crimes to local police.

This is the cutting edge of Bannon-the orange toupee/Sessions/Miller bigotry. But in Charlotte, siccing the Nazis and Klan on decent people and murdering Heather Heyer, that is what it leads to. This is the new wave of fascsim in the streets. It must be stopped or it will destroy us.

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Smash unions and public schools, disenfranchise millions (already “Republican” policy, but heightened by the Kobach-Pence commission). See Nancy MacLean, Democracy in Chains on the James Buchanan (the “libertarian” who advised Pinochet and Chile mainly/Koch brothers/fascist rhetoric (“Republicans” on “makers” and “takers” and the like). This is a war against the people led from the “White” House and enabled by what remains of a Republican Party in Congress.

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In contrast, Black Lives Matter is an heroic movement led by women to fight against police gunning down children (Tamir Rice in Cleveland), men running away (Walter Scott) and other innocents. It stands against police execution/torture as well of “suspects.” It is a blessing to all who seek to make every life valuable in America.

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The bigots in Charlottesville are today often young, nattily dressed, spewing hate. They are all identifiable through photos (they do not hide as much as the KKK did in the old days). Every single one of them must be stopped from committing crimes. They are the living threat of destruction for all of us. Some may, some day, recover themselves as human – Susan Bro, Heather Heyer’s mother, hopes for this. But only if they are stopped…

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Their cry “White Lives Matter” and “white nationalism” is but a cloak for White Supremacy and every murder, lynching, beating, jailing , and sale, down through America’s genocidal history (add: the genocide toward indigenous people).

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Any one (even, mistakenly, Amy Goodman) who substitutes “white nationalism” for White Supremacy deceives themselves. Recall those hundreds of Southern picnic lynchings (see Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative) – there was not one committed by a black person against a white…

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Ordinary nationalism by oppressed people is often a mistake (leaves out and can come to oppress other, usually nonwhite people). Note, however: fighting racist murders is not nationalist. Nothing about Black Lives Matter is nationalist. It emphasizes the importance of black lives because most white people (young and poor people excepted) have no reason to fear ordinarily being shot down in the street; that is a profound sense of “White” privilege which other human beings lack. Note: the violent racists in Charlottesville changed all that for Heather Heyer and every civilian there.

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No oppressed group is fighting today for a separate nation in the United States.

No other group chants “Blood and Soil” – a Nazi slogan, which in America – given the genocide toward indigenous people – makes this additionally odious and stupid. The fact that “the Right” is not mainly a farm group (rural no longer means “farm” and mostly latinos, including immigrants – actually do the work – also escapes preppies like Spencer and Duke.

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No other group chants alternately “Jews will not replace us” and “You will not replace us.” A Vice video captures a Nazi wishing for a purer President than one whose “beautiful Aryan daughter” married…a Jew.

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The twitchy orange toupee in the “White” House accompanied by Bannon, odious Miller, sickenting Hahn, raving Anton, and Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, along with their abettors hate “globalists” – by which as speakers said in Charlottesville, they suppose they mean “Jewish” bankers.

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They especially hate and crusade against Muslims (Catholics Bannon and Gaffney, their grandparents hunted by the Klan, love the KKK in this new crusade). They also hate Mexicanos and Chicanos. They aim to divide, and sink their fangs in most white people as well (consider how many poor Trump voters they could have denied heatlh-care or may be killed, along with the rest of us, by nuclear war).

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Bannon had a rare public conversation yesterday with Robert Kuttner of the American Prospect. He did not make it off the record. He condemned his own supporters (those whom Breibart called forth) as “clowns.” He “forgot” that they murdered Heather Heyer and beat many others.

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He falsely depicted antifascists and all the other people there as not defending democracy and decency but defending only nonwhite people. And in the vein of Putin and Alexander Duguin, he praised “national” meaning “White” unity. That is what the orange toupee is going for (Bannon loved the racist’s recent press conference).

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In addition, The Republican party led by Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, stonewalled any acts or compromises from a luncheon his first week in office with a black president. They made racism among other things, very Congressional since 2010. This has been going on since the “Southern strategy” and Reagan descending on Philadelphia, Mississippi where my childhood friend Andy Goodman, James Cheney and Mickey Schwerner – three more Fred Hamptons, three more Heather Heyer’s, three more Martin Kings – were killed….”Republican” politics has long spat in the face of Lincoln, and dances on the graves of all those murdered by American genocides…

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Trump’s Birtherism and grotesque attempts to lynch the innocent Central Park 5 and keep black people out of his father Fred’s buildings – Fred was arrested in a kLan demonstration against the New York police for recrituing Catholics in 1927 (once again, the Catholic Bannon bows to Fred, mobilizes the KKK) – have not differed much from “mainstream” Republican leadership…They just express it more sharply, reach for the streets.

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The Democratic torch (as at Chralottesville last weekend) of the Jim Crow south passed to these racist Republicans. The New Jim Crow of the prisons and in policing and now the violent Nazis in Charlottesville is their heritage…Note: corporate Democrats like Bill Clinton have often abetted the New Jim Crow (Hillary Clinton has evolved on racism, but she did speak of “superpredators”).

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Racism will exist in America at least as long as capitalism does. But racism can be subdued even under cap[italism by mass anti-racist movements (consider the civil rights movement, consider the people in self-defense in Charlottesville).

As Charlottesville reveals, however, racism will flourish – and many of us will die – unless capitalism is restricted by major reforms (roughly, Bernie Sanders’ program, and some further measures). That can only come from a big multiracial mass movement from below

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New violent rallies by the KKK/Nazis are planned, as soon as Staurdaay, for Boston, Texas and 11 cities.

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Antiracists hauled down a racist statue in North Carolina as officials equivocated. That is a good thing. (even the National Review editor finally said today that these monuments to treachery and bondage must come down; it is good, when the light dawns, even among former enablers,also including Democrats…).

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Following Mayor Landrieu in New Orleans, the Mayor of Baltimore had four statues taken down last night. No chance for the Nazis to come out and kill.

Many cities and towns are acting at last to bring down the monuments to bondage – those which sicken every decent person. There is hope in America…

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May the memory of Heather Heyer and so many others, may the tears and decency and truth and call for action of Heather’s mother, Susan Bro – and father and grandfather, energize our movement.

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