Yesterday was probably one of the lowest days in American history. Donald Trump gave a speech that not only attempted to justify the violence of this past weekend, but also tried to legitimize the awful actions of the White Supremacists that were present.
This is not okay.
In his speech, this man blamed the “alt-left that came charging." This is a lie, because there is no such group as the “alt-left." There was Antifa, a group that literally should NOT have to exist in an ideal world. I overheard some coworkers asking about Antifa, so I thought I'd take a moment to explain.
Antifa is a form of radical politics applied to fighting the alt-right. It literally stands for ANTI FAscists. This shouldn't be hard to grasp. Their general message is simple: fascists are bad and we must stand up to them. There is no true antifa organization; it is a collection of various different groups the world over. It's a movement that formed in the late 30s to fight the rise of Hitler and Mussolini. The more modern groups, such as the ones in Charlottesville this past weekend, rose in the 70s/80s as skinhead culture grew around the world. These groups only exist because of White Supremacy, and for the most part they practice non-violence. However, they will defend themselves and go out of their way to defend others who are being threatened by those they seek to protest.
Anyways, back to the rant. Antifa shouldn't have to exist. Antifa should be EVERYONE'S constant state. We don't want fascists, we don't like fascists, we are anti-fascist. Simple.
Calling them the alt-left is not only disingenuous, it's dangerous. The alt-right is a term that White Supremacists, Nazis, and other far right groups have adopted to soften their image. You start creating an alt-left and you further their cause. You allow these groups to claim to be "not so bad," because you allow them to show that they have a counterpart on the other side of the spectrum. There is no excuse for that false dichotomy.
Both sides were not responsible for Saturday's violence. Both sides did not come armed with mace and clubs and weapons, intent on starting a race riot. It was only the Nazis, those who came carrying swastikas and left clergy feeling unsafe for themselves and their congregations.
Trump's speech yesterday got him a standing ovation from David Duke. That's just embarrassing. This is a man who was the former leader of the KKK. If you are getting support from him, maybe you need to reevaluate your priorities. At least a little. If the ducks are calling you a duck, maybe you're a duck, and if the racists are saluting your words, maybe you are a racist.
Most of this has been said better elsewhere, and most of what else I could say someone else has the right words for. Instead, I'm going to turn to those who these racists want gone. They want any group that isn't them, isn't White and “Christian," gone. I might be part of that group, but I've never truly felt unsafe or unwelcome. I realized this weekend, as I sat at a Jazz fest only an hour away from where a car crashed into Heather Heyer, that I am privileged. And often times, I don't realize it. I sat there, staring at the Virginia is for Lovers stage, and I realized that people there were enjoying themselves, and I felt guilty.
Help me to help you. Those of you who saw Charlottesville not as an eye opener, but instead as another link in this horrific chain of events, help me to learn. Help me, and those like me, to recognize our own faults and privileged existences. I will join you, I will rise, but that doesn't mean I always realize my weaknesses. Point them out to me, stand up and tell me I'm wrong or that I just don't understand. A coworker today, arguing with a colleague over the Confederate statues, told them that they simply couldn't understand, that it was impossible. I don't believe that, and I do believe that we must, at the very least, try. From there, we can start to heal.