I knew it would happen this time. As soon as White Supremacy Woodstock happened in Charlottesville, Va., I was certain it would open a dialogue about race, racism and white supremacy in America. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that the terrorist attack this past weekend would force the country to address this evil scourge. I figured all the good white people who don’t have hate in their hearts would make sure of it.
Of course, I had been wrong before. I thought the same thing when Dylann Roof waltzed into Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and murdered nine parishioners in cold blood. I knew we’d have a conversation about it after that.
That’s how it works in America, right? We are a nation of logic. We address our problems. After the tragedy of 9/11, we passed the Patriot Act, which made looking at someone sideways an act of terrorism and made getting on a plane more invasive than a prostate exam. Plus the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the nonpartisan Brookings Institution had already warned us that right-wing extremist groups are the biggest national security threat in America.
“Now we’re going to forget about playing the dozens against Kim Jong Un,” I thought. “This stupid wall along the Mexican border, the Russia investigation—all that lunacy will end today. Now we understand the real threat to peace and safety in America.”
I’m telling you, I knew it would happen. You saw how many white people were out there fighting Hunger Games-style! Logic dictates that some of those people were teachers, principals and educators of our children, like the New Orleans white supremacist who turned out to be the principal of an all-black high school.
Statistically speaking, some of them were probably law enforcement officers, like the correctional officers who were members of the Ku Klux Klan and tried to kill an inmate. The FBI already admitted that there are white supremacists in law enforcement agencies. Or maybe some of them were just prosecutors or people working in the criminal justice system. Either way, I knew we’d hop right on it.
If the Trump presidency, the Jeff Sessions Justice Department or Republicans are good for anything, they are good at protecting us from evil, right? They are always on the side of justice, right?
Just like when South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley responded to the terror attack in Charleston, S.C., by blaming it on a flag, cities and states all over the country watched violent right-wing extremists siege an American city, commit an act of terror—and no, I’m not just talking about the James Fields attack; I’m talking about the entire fearmongering demonstration—and said, “Oh, this must be about the statues.”
Let’s be clear: The mass murder at Emanuel AME had nothing to do with a flag, and the Nazi siege of Charlottesville had nothing to do with a statue. It was about literal white power. It was about terrorizing a city into backing down. It was a coming-out party. It was a show of force.
Yet instead of talking about what it means, instead of talking about how to squash out these groups, instead of even calling the president by name, everyone is equivocating about love, unity and the “American spirit.”
And taking down statues.
Because we are cowards.
We like to think of America as brave and strong, but she is either a punk bitch who has allowed herself to be bullied by white supremacy for 400 years or she is a white supremacist herself. It can only be one or the other. There is no in between. She is either deflecting her fear onto the monuments of the past or she is lying.
This country could have said, “We need to find a way to fight the systematic evil of white supremacy now that it is out of the closet,” but instead it looked across the expanse of thousands of white supremacists from all across the country and said, “Wow, these people in the white robes waving swastika flags must really hate ... statues.”
I understand. It is much easier to tear down a piece of marble than it is to tear down a system of racial subjugation. I know it is a difficult, almost impossible thing to do.
But damn, at least they could try.