It seems to me….
“Hatred, racism, and extremism have no place in this country.” ~ Angela Merkel.
The last fifty years have been an unprecedented period of human rights progress in the U.S.: civil rights, women’s rights, minority rights, and sexual acceptance. Unfortunately, while having always lurked just beneath the surface, there has been a recent resurgence of bigotry as shown by recent events in Charlottesville, VA, and elsewhere.
How can anyone be so debased as to advocate the indefensible? 750,000 Americans died in the Civil War. That rebellion is a historical fact to be acknowledged but it was fought over an immoral and repulsive issue: slavery. To support symbols of the Confederacy or its primary protagonists is to lend affirmation to the belief of racial inferiority. Just as the Federal Republic of Germany disavows any overt display associated with the Nazi era, it is well past time to move on and eliminate explicit reminders of that chapter in our history from public exhibition or dialogue. It is unfortunate that such obvious festering symbols of institutional and personal animosity and exclusion were ever erected.
No one should in any way equate the indignation and righteous response of those outraged by the advocacy of debased beliefs to those espoused by white supremacists, neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, or similar organizations. Trump has erroneously attempted to conflate our nation’s founders with rebels who fought to divide it. To compare the memory of George Washington or Thomas Jefferson for having been slave owners with current racist extremism is delusional. Such groups and their supporters should be labeled as to what they actually are: domestic terrorists.
While violence was provoked by both demonstrators and protestors in Charlottesville, VA, something never acceptable, it also is incorrect to equate the expression of hate and inferiority with standing for equality and self-respect. There isn’t any equivalence of principles expressed by alt-right demonstrators and those who oppose them. White supremacy deserves to be treated as what it is: a scourge upon our nation whose existence must be collectively recognized in all its various forms of expression as repugnant, condemned, and any remaining vestiges and symbolism eradicated.
The U.S. is a nation of immigrants – a composite of races, nationalities, beliefs, orientations… – it is our very individual uniqueness that characterizes us as a nation. To afford any segment special privilege or importance above another is to disparage all of us. Undeniably, Caucasians have in the past been privileged; African-Americans, especially, have been denied equality.
Some Caucasians feel they are being bypassed by structural changes in the economy that are narrowing their options. The heart of their grievances appears to be based on class frustrations, not race. While minorities provide a relatively easily identifiable target, if the white demonstrators want to blame someone, they ought to point their fingers at the wealthy whites on Wall Street and in Washington, not on blacks and other minorities. There were very few people of color on corporate boards in the 1980s when manufacturing was being off-shored. They were not among the executives in Detroit when the auto industry acted to destroy public transit systems. They were not attending business schools graduating MBAs teaching predominantly white students to move operations to countries where labor was cheaper. They were not extolling the virtues of businesses like Walmart decimating entire Main Streets across small-town America. They were not on educational boards cutting funding to inner-city and predominantly black neighborhoods. It is not people of color indorsing politically motivated disenfranchisement.
White nationalism isn’t simply an extremist political ideology. It is in some ways an alt-religious movement providing its adherents with its own twisted version of what all religions supply to adherents: a personal sense of who they are, a social sense of where they belong, and a spiritual sense of why their life matters. When faith communities do not provide these healthy life-giving human needs, then death-dealing alt-religions will fill the gap. But white supremacists are blaming the wrong slices of society for their angst. Racial divides are not what’s plaguing vast stretches of white America – deepening class divides are. The national economy and sense of well-being are on a downward slide that has accelerated in recent decades. Almost everyone who is not living in wealthy enclaves – usually coastal cities or inland hubs – is facing a descending spiral that’s been decades in the making. These are the same stretches of suburban and rural America that elected Trump, elected the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, where hate groups are concentrated, and where many of those arrested in Charlottesville came from.
Rather than uniting us as a single nation, Trump has fanned the flames of separation with his psychopathic egocentricity. Gone are any lingering hopes of unifying an increasingly bitterly divided nation. He has repeatedly refused to moderate his demagogic impulses in deference to the office he now holds.
Now, Americans are increasingly sorted into think-alike communities that reflect not only their politics but their demographics. We have assigned ourselves into camps separated not only by ideology but now by unacceptance of each other’s facts. We impugn each other’s motives, doubt each other’s patriotism, denigrate each other’s news sources, and hold different value systems in our core institutions of religion, marriage, and education.
Even Robert E. Lee said the time had come to put aside the Confederate flag. Lee was so sensitive during his final years with extinguishing the fiery passions of the Civil War that he opposed erecting monuments on the battlefields where the Southern soldiers under his command had fought against the Union. He wrote “I think it wiser moreover not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife and to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered”.
While best to have never been initially permitted, all remaining monuments and symbols of that unfortunate time in our history should be removed and racism in all its many forms condemned.
It is stated in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. Isn’t it time we lived up to that ideal?
That’s what I think, what about you?
 Angela Dorothea Merkel is a German politician, leader of the Christian Democratic Union since 2000, and Chancellor of Germany since 2005.
 McLaren, Brian D. The ‘Alt-Right’ Has Created Alt-Christianity, Time, http://time.com/4915161/charlottesville-alt-right-alt-christianity/, 25 August 2017.
 Taylor, Paul. The Demographic Trends Shaping American Politics In 2016 And Beyond, Pew Research Center, www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/01/27/the-demographic-trends-shaping-american-politics-in-2016-and-beyond, 27 January 2016.