A Battle for the Soul of Our Nation : Don't Stop Fighting For It.
The Charlottesville clashes are not only about race, about the rise of white supremacy, about a morally abhorrent and profoundly un-American President. The Charlottesville clash is one of many battles for the very soul of our nation. Such battles have taken place and nearly tore us apart: the Civil War, the imprisonment of suffragettes, the Civil rights Marches and the Stonewall Riots are among them. These are moments where we stopped talking about luxuries like freedom of speech and the right to political expression. These are battles where we were, and are, talking about changes so profound that they will forever define our nation and have the potential of irretrievably breaking our movement towards a more egalitarian and inclusive society. Losing this battle can cost us everything.
The “pro Confederate monument protesters” in Charlottesville were not there to talk about history. Those people were Nazis. We are talking about individuals who advocate for mass murder in the name of a superior race. We are talking about individuals who are willing to enslave other human beings because of the color of their skin. People who want to strip other human beings of their humanity. Let’s not mince words: these individuals are the lowest form of humanity and must, with no exception, be eliminated from this country’s seat of power. I won't call them alt right I won't call them white supremacists I won't call them anything else than Nazis because we all know what Nazis do we all have learned what Nazism stands for. Why? Because it didn't happen in our country and we had the liberty to demonize something that happened far, far away and where we knew undoubtedly that we were on the right side of history. But when it comes to Confederacy because we are talking about neighbors, brothers, family members, uncles, aunts, mothers, we take a very softer approach. Not ironically, we take on a more Southern approach. But if we ask the right question, there is no need to take a softer approach. The right question is the following: why do Nazis care about Confederate monuments? Because both are inextricably dedicated to the violent subjugation of non-white non-male non-cis-gender individuals. These people are a vocal minority. They are a dangerous minority. They are a minority that cannot, under any circumstance, be given any legitimacy. They are a threat to the very soul of this nation.
White supremacy is, first and foremost, an expression of abysmal human stupidity. The idea that one race, because of the color of its skin, or the shape of its eyes, or the texture of its hair, is superior to any other is flatly refuted by science. It is the refuge of morons who have no other claim to fame. Further, and equally, white supremacy is heinous. The Confederacy fought for the preservation of slavery. Slavery. The social framework that gave white men the right to take another human being and rip it from its family, from the people they loved, from her or his own children. The right to tell a woman that she had to bear fifteen children before she could hope to have freedom. Children for which she didn’t get to choose a father. And at that point, after years of rape and deliveries, her freedom had to come at the cost of leaving her children behind. The right to make men fight to the death for the amusement of their white masters. That is what the Confederacy stood for, plain and simple. Anything else is revisionist history. Having said that, the good news is that the Union fought the Confederacy and won. That battle was, in very real terms, a battle for the soul of our nation. And while we had to make peace and, unfortunately, chose to sacrifice much of the progress we could have made for our black citizen in the process, the Union nonetheless won. The good guys won. And, much like a movie—except this is very real—the bad guys are back and we cannot be complacent about it.
It is worth noting that the people defending Confederate monuments are not historians. Indeed, those who claim that the Confederate monuments are necessary to remember our past are overwhelmingly white. Are they afraid they may forget their blood soaked history? Because, undoubtedly, the black population in this country has no need for monuments to remember that their ancestors were bought, sold, traded, murdered, raped, tortured, demonized, vilified, and deprived of the very basic rights given to human beings. Those who have most reason to forget about the atrocities meted out upon their people seem to be the least interested in being reminded of that. It is no coincidence. Our black brethren don't need monuments to remind them of that. They remember that every single day in the countless micro aggressions they are subjected to. They remember it every time they see one of theirs gunned down by a white police officer who will see no punishment for his actions. They remember every time they get a pay check where black women make and the fact that black women make close to 60-something cents on the dollar for what a white man makes. They remember it in the number of black men who ended up in jail for drug crimes, including marijuana, which is now making white men wealthy wherever it is legal. The only ones who think that monuments are what reminds us of our past are those who did not suffer by it.
More importantly, both Nazis and Confederates have in common a toxic masculine view of the world, a glorification of war and conflict, the idea that the stronger wins and is therefore morally superior because of that victory. Well, ladies and gentlemen, we won. You lost. This is the jungle and you now get to live by its rules. But they are not done fighting, and therefore we’re not either.
The battle unfolding through president Trump and the likes of Bannon and Sessions is truly a battle for the soul of our nation. It is not the time to be polite. It is not the time to be gentle. It is the time to continue shouting from rooftops, and blogs, and social media accounts, and letters to the editors, and through our votes, through our cherished political process, loud and clear, relentlessly, that we will not accept a rollback. That we absolutely and wholeheartedly reject the slave holding past of our history. We must do so at every level of government, in every interaction, in every way the law allows us to do so. If we do that, the petulant buffoon that the Electoral College unfortunately elected president will eventually be relegated to a dark corner of our nation’s history. Those who stand by his side and support him will, just like the Confederate monuments, be toppled by the righteous, tolerant, accepting, intelligent people of this country. Our nation is built on the notion that we are all born equal and we all have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Those words are enshrined in our founding documents. We should never forget that. We should never stop fighting for that. And we should never, out of politeness, concede that our country should strive for anything less than that.
Have we achieved it? No. Will we stop fighting for it? Hell no. The day that we do, we have lost America. The day that we do, we might as well pack our bags and go find the shores of another country where we can all have a chance at opportunity. That land will be the new America.