20 August, 2017

After Charlottesville

"You do not get to be an American and a Nazi. There was a war about this. Most of the world was involved."

--Facebook meme

"If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention."

--another

Nazis: Let's commit genocide.
Antifa: Let's not.
BLM: PLEASE STOP SHOOTING US
Centrist: I can't tell these groups apart

--still another

There is too much silence about what is going on in the United States right now. By not saying anything about it, I'm complicit.

So.

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I've often asked myself just what kind of war I would actually fight in, if war came to my door. I'm what the U.S. would classify as 4-F...physically unfit to fight, thanks to shitty vision; I'm also not exactly what you'd call a fine specimen of manly soldier. Further, I'm something of a coward in certain contexts. I would put myself in harm's way to save someone I love, but I'm not sure I would do the same for an abstract concept.

After Charlottesville, I am reconsidering that.

Make no mistake: the murder of Heather Heyer by a piece of white supremacist scum was inevitable. Further murders are likewise inevitable; I believe that civil war is a near-certainty in the United States within, I'm going to say, three electoral terms.

They're essentially fighting it now, actually. And Donald Trump is encouraging it at every turn, suggesting there is both blame and "very fine people" on both sides.

No, sir, there is not. Blame lies with the person who rammed his car into a crowd. And you don't get to be a "very fine person" and a Nazi sympathizer. That's not how this works.

There are protests breaking out all over, which does my heart a world of good. They are, so far, what is separating the United States from Germany circa 85 years ago. My question, which I pose with some dread, is what happens if the police, on federal orders, start shooting people? How many people are willing to put their lives and livelihoods on the line?

Would I be?

A friend of ours attended the protest in Vancouver yesterday, at which -- just as in Boston -- a few dozen neo-Nazis were outnumbered by thousands and thousands of people who are sane. (I was trying to find an antonym for "neo-Nazi"; "person who is sane" is about the best I can come up with).

There comes a point when I'm obliged to take a side, when silence is no longer an option.

Let me be clear: I do not believe the ends justify the means. I do not believe violence should be used in an attempt to subdue violence. But when the President of the United States is encouraging police brutality, inciting violence at every turn, and defending the people who perpetrate it...there is a mindset at work here. Violence is the only thing despots like Trump understand.

I won't hit first. But I will hit back.

It bothers me...infuriates me, really..to see people defending the causes of neo-Nazis, to see their hateful screeds dismissed as "just another opinion", to hear them called the "alt-right", which makes them seem like just another "alternative fact".

Let me tell you something about speech calling for the subjugation and elimination of other human beings. That's not free speech. That's hatred, and it has no place in any civilized society. You DO shout it down. You DO intimidate people such that hatred is not given a platform to be spewed. It is not necessary to listen to it, to grant it space inside your head, as if it's legitimate. This crazy notion that we need to hear them out, as if what they're saying is just another side of a perfectly reasonable debate...fuck that. I hear hatred, no matter from whom, and you get one chance to retract it, to clarify yourself. If you can't do that to my satisfaction, you can go be hateful elsewhere.

Goddamnit, we fought a war to eradicate this shit. Looks like we failed.




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