By now I’m sure you’ve heard of the terrorist attack in Charlottesville. The radical, white supremacist coward James Alex Fields, Jr. used his car as a battering ram to plow through a crowd of innocent people, injuring 19 and killing Heather Heyer. There are GoFundMe campaigns for the victims we can donate to (Heather’s fund already finished with over $200,000 raised) and almost 700 individual solidarity marches sprung up around the country this weekend- I’m sure there will be more, and we should all go to at least one of them. Those looking for ways to make sense of the attack have a wealth of options; there are prayer circles to at which to commune, mental health services to help cope, and activist organizations one can join to help bring about real change in our nation. All of these options are good, but none of them answer the fundamental, underlying question we’re left with.
What the fuck do we do about this?
You Are Here: We’re now living in a nation where white nationalist scum has been empowered by our President, who is unwilling to denounce their hate groups when asked. They scuttle out into the streets with their tiki torches and battle shields, sometimes even strapped with their combat gear and semiautomatic rifles, and the police do nothing. Why? Because apparently, the cops were afraid of the Nazis’ equipment.
““You saw the militia walking down the street, you would have thought they were an army … I was just talking to the State Police upstairs; [the militia members] had better equipment than our State Police had,” McAuliffe said. “And yet not a shot was fired, zero property damage.”
This is absurd. Does the Commonwealth of Virginia not have access to SWAT teams? Do they not have a National Guard? How can you justify your law enforcement’s inaction when a group of neckbearded LARPers rolls through your city like an invading force? You can’t use the defense of “they were afraid”, because the police already blew that baseless excuse when dealing with unarmed innocents like Philando Castile. Is there anything our police aren’t afraid of these days? And here’s a fun thought experiment:
Can you even imagine the state hardware that would have been brought to bear if the people in fatigues and body armor, packing military-grade rifles, had been black? There would have been Abrams in the streets. This is the nation we live in.
Where Do We Go Now: Every day the state proves itself unwilling to address the threat that these Nazi terrorists pose. Charlottesville is not the first time they showed their ugly faces, and I am sadly confident that they will only be emboldened by the tacit approval of the President. This is not the last battle that is going to be fought, but we must dictate the terms of the fight. Typically, I would say that our response would be to show our superiority by sticking to the path of nonviolence; to allow the terrorists to erode their own support in the public eye by giving them the space to show the world just how repugnant they are.
But I don’t know if that strategy works with Nazis. I think that these white nationalists will simply goose-step right over top of anyone who thinks nonviolent protest will stop them. I think of my grandfather’s generation, to be quite honest, and how the entire world was forced to come to terms with the fact that fascist ideology is always a bad-faith actor, and the innocent will pay for any ground you give them in blood. In fact we can see the effect that nonviolent protest has had on them- Nazis are now quite happy to show their faces in public, where a scant few years ago they would have cowered under their hoods.
I think we, as everyone left-of-center, are going to have to at least entertain the idea that nonviolent protest may have to be abandoned to stem the rising tide of radical, white nationalist terrorism.
The views expressed in this Daily Vigil are those of this author, and in no way necessarily reflect the views of any other Digital Left staff or volunteers.