Saturday, August 12, 2017

Charlottesville

Maybe it's the fact that I've now had a headache for two consecutive days. Maybe it's because I'm still trying to recover from an upsetting physical setback from earlier in the week. Maybe it's because I'm a proud Virginian and can't bare to have this state's reputation dragged through the mud on nationwide television. As I watched it unfold, my first reaction was to make wisecracks on Facebook. It's my default reaction to repulsive ugliness...attempts at humor. But as the day has worn on, humor isn't working and no longer seems appropriate, even for me.

No, the sort of thing that's happening in Charlottesville is something for which I have lost all patience. What follows isn't a fair and balanced accounting of root causes. I'll leave that to more knowledgeable voices. No, this is just me getting a few things off my chest. 

For starters, the instigators of this protest seem to be a conglomeration of aggrieved groups which include white nationalists, KKK members, neo-nazis, white supremacists and others comprising the movement referred to as the alt-right. This is quite a target rich environment for my particular brand of snark, so I will pick one sub-set in this Petri dish of extremism for discussion...the white supremacists.

Full disclosure: I am white, so I feel fairly qualified to opine on the relative merits of my race, although in all honesty, I don't tend to view myself as primarily a person who has a race. If I were trying to describe myself to someone, the modifier white would be way down the list of words that would leap to mind. It would probably wind up like number 16, just before opinionated and right after handsome. But, if someone were to ask me to name some notable contributions made to civilization by my race, I suppose I could come up with a rather impressive list. Shakespeare leaps to mind. Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, the guy who cured polio, he was white, I believe. Henry Ford. Thomas Edison. Thomas Jefferson. Galileo. Michelangelo. The Beatles. So, if I were the kind of person who draws their sense of self worth from their racial identity, these examples might give me great pride. I could think...I'm white, so was Michelangelo. That must mean we're like related or something! The only problem with this sort of thinking is that once you start going down the path of race identity, you must confront some uncomfortable truths. Jeffrey Dahmer was white. So was Joseph Stalin. Jack the Ripper? White. Paris Hilton? White. Justin Bieber? About as white as you can get. This race thing turns out to be an extraordinarily mixed bag.

So, if you decide to think that whites are superior as a race, then you have to also think that other races are inferior, which is fine if you spend all day looking at film footage of riots in Baltimore...look at those terrible thugs stealing cans of Pringles while they burn down their own neighborhoods!! But, then you hear Magic by Count Basie. You watch Denzel Washington on the big screen. You read Alexandre Dumas' Count of Monte Cristo, and Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. What's a white supremacist to do upon being confronted with such greatness? Of course, the obvious answer is that no self-respecting white supremacist would be caught dead at a Denzel Washington movie, nor would they ever be caught dead reading any book without pictures, and be honest, if you're a white supremacist who happens to be reading this, admit that you're probably right now Googling the name Alexandre Dumas because you had no clue he was black! Don't you feel ashamed of yourself for loving that book??

Seriously now. In 2017, after ten freaking years of Keeping Up With the Kardashians there are still people out there trying to sell white supremacy? 

I've just had it with people who show up at a political rally wearing cheap baseball helmets, dressed in army fatigues, carrying homemade fiberglass shields with shotguns slung over their shoulders claiming to be part of come master race. As far as Charlottesville goes, something tells me I wouldn't be writing this and you wouldn't even have heard about this alleged protest if the counter protesters had just stayed home and ignored them. All these alt-right people want is violence and attention. All the better to feed their persecution complex and paranoia. If nobody showed up at Emancipation Park but them, they wouldn't have had anyone to be violent with...end of story.

But, it is true that we have a long and storied history in this country of putting Nazis in their place, so it's hard to blame those who came out to stand against them. I've just had it. I don't care about turning any of this into a political pissing contest...Did McAuliffe do the right thing? Was Trump harsh enough in his condemnation? That sort of political bean counting is for losers. All I care about if finding the cretin responsible for plowing that car into a crowd of protesters, and locking him up for the rest of his miserable life.