Noor Salman has never killed a human being. She has never injured anyone. She doesn’t even have a criminal record. But after her husband massacred 49 people in Orlando, Fla.’s Pulse nightclub on June 12, 2016, an FBI agent said that he “realized that she knew” about the attack. The FBI also discovered that Salman may have given her husband some gas money that he used in his car.
So despite the fact that she denounced the Islamic State group and terrorism a year before the attack, even though she did not help plan or finance the shooting, Salam will stand trial in March for aiding and abetting by providing material support to a terrorist organization.
In the eyes of the government, Noor Salman is a terrorist.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Stephen Miller, government staffers and other officials sat in the room and heard President Donald Trump disparage Haiti as a “shithole country.” They did not challenge him. None of the lawmakers who probably represent Haitians and Nigerians walked out of the room and told the press about Trump’s tirade.
Despite the fact that there is no evidence any of these men encouraged Trump to say these words, even though they did not endorse his statement, they remained silent. They knew.
These men are white supremacists.
Every headline you will read about Trump’s comments will place the blame solely on him and adeptly leap over the obvious fact that he felt comfortable enough in the company of this gaggle of old white men to disparage the residents of an entire country with his racist tangent.
The recent revelations are not just an indictment of Trump’s racism; they are indicative of the attitudes of every single person in that room.
That’s how white supremacy works.
This has nothing to do with the ethereal concept of “normalizing” racism. This is a brick-and-mortar example of how men nonchalantly spread the evil form of oppression that has plagued this country for centuries and then lackadaisically go about their business as if nothing happened.
Because for them, nothing happened.
“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
—Martin Luther King Jr.
This weekend and Monday, America will celebrate the legacy of the civil rights revolutionary Martin Luther King Jr. Whenever any black person utters words that make white people adjust their collars, white people unfailingly respond with a variation of the phrase “but not all white people.” If they are bold enough, they might even challenge you with the Super Saiyan Caucasian preamble of all preambles: “What would Martin Luther King say about ... ”
Well, on this particular issue, we know what King would have said because he already said it.
In 1964, after he won the Nobel Peace Prize, most of white Atlanta didn’t acknowledge it. The city where he was born and where he lived didn’t even try to honor King until Robert Woodruff, president of Coca-Cola, decided to sponsor a banquet. He still couldn’t get the white elite to attend until the New York Times wrote a scathing article about the efforts to undermine the event and Coca-Cola threatened to leave the city.
After the tickets sold out, many people assumed that King would take it easy on the powerful people who had reluctantly gathered to honor him. When he gave his speech, he spoke directly to the powerful men who had remained quiet during the brutality of the civil rights movement:
History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.
Martin Luther King Jr. was wrong, though.
History has yet to record the tragedy of the people who sat silently in the room on Thursday when Trump besmirched the nation of Haiti and other black and brown countries. History still has not listed the names in the room when he said that Haitians “all have AIDS” and Nigerians live in huts. Their names are nowhere to be found alongside the list of neo-Nazis and Klansmen.
Not only was King incorrect when he assured us of history’s note-taking, but he was doubly wrong when he described the people who remained appallingly silent as “good people.” Sidestepping evil for the sake of political favor or not upsetting the apple cart is the opposite of “good.” These people are co-conspirators. They are accomplices. They are guilty of aiding and abetting by providing material support to white supremacy.
Not only are they at fault, but they join a long list of those complicit with Trump’s brand of racism. Their names should appear alongside those of the pearl-clutching congregation of reporters, celebrities and generic-label white people distancing themselves from “the Donald” as they pretend to just realize that he has racist tendencies.
They should register with the 53 percent of white women who voted for a robeless Klansman, along with the lawmakers who embrace him and his policies. The names of kowtowing Negroes like Steve Harvey, Ray Lewis, Stephen A. Smith, Omarosa Manigault Newman and Chrisette Michele, who implored us to respect a man who would shit down our throats for the spectacle of it, should be etched into those history books, too. They all worked on the road crew that paved the way for a white supremacist to gain respect and power. They paid for the fuel in his car.
This is why I am never ashamed to say that I voted for someone just because he or she is black. This is why “diversity” can never be a bad word. If we are not seated at the table, not only are our voices unheard, but the evil ones are emboldened. This is why “not all white people” rings hollow in my ears. All the white people in the room at both events stayed silent. Silence is racism. Racism is evil.
Those same silent voices omitted from history will probably participate in the praising of Martin Luther King Jr. this weekend. They will talk about freedom and equality for all people. They will do it loudly and publicly because they know that they will always have the opportunity to slit our throats behind closed doors without a single objection.
Our only hope remains in the unseen recompense of the invisible, omnipotent God who King believed would avenge the sins of these evil men. He told us: “The hottest place in hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.”
I guess we’ll have to wait for that.
I just hope they don’t run out of room.