(Updated 8/14/2017) TriceEdney — Having lived through the horrendous 60’s and witnessing the hate of people who look like me, once again, I was glued to my television on Saturday, August 12, 2017 having to remind myself that what I was watching was not Birmingham, Alabama or any place down South. These images I was seeing live on television were not the old KKK or White Citizens Council. These were White supremacists and Nazis. This rally was billed as Unite the Right in Charlottesville, Virginia. All of this hatred has risen purportedly over the city taking down a statue of Robert E. Lee, Commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia.
Governor Terry McAuliffe had ordered the National Guard to be present on standby ahead of the march. He realized how volatile this march might be so he urged people to stay away from the White nationalists’ event, but brave souls who wanted to say that America is better than this, took the risk to go and stand against bigotry and hate.
The violent clashes began shortly after the racists and the counter-racists gathered in Emancipation Park where the statue of Lee is located. Bottles were thrown—even at police who just seemed to be standing by totally unlike how police act in majority Black demonstrations. The scene was scary.
Most of the participants on the White nationalists’ side appeared to be young—not the elderly haters of days gone by. We had hope that young people would be different—but today, we saw the worst of them.
In the chaos, though police were being hit, they were just standing there seemingly totally uninvolved. They were protecting no one. Members of the clergy were struck. I saw Black clergy women running for her life. I thought about what a difference race still makes with some police. Remember Ferguson, Missouri and all the police that were there?
Charlottesville was so bad that Unlawful Assembly was declared by the Charlottesville officials around 11 AM. The White nationalists were fully armed and prepared for this chaos with shields, guns, sticks, water bottles with cement, helmets, baseball bats, confederate flags, vulgar messages, torches, etc. Actually, some were dressed to look like police—but police just stood back looking on. Maybe that is what they were told to do.
Hours into this chaos, the President had not said a mumbling work. The First Lady said a few words of condemnation before her husband said a word. Orin Hatch said a few words. We didn’t hear from Jeff Sessions or Mitch McConnell. Finally, at 1:19 PM after he’d been criticized, Trump finally delivered a lukewarm message about our need to come together without mentioning who started the trouble—especially not mentioning his role in bringing out the worst in people.
The racists came armed. They came for a physical fight—not for anything good. Yet, Donald Trump has not been able to call them what they are—domestic terrorists, racists, Nazis, white supremacists, anti-American thugs—and the list goes on and on.
Gov. McAuliffe declared an emergency. He and local officials were masterful in condemning the violence and hate in the rally where a woman opposed to the horrible acts was killed, as were two state troopers. More than a year ago, when we wondered how he knew, Dick Gregory told us that soon after the 2016 election, we’d soon be experiencing chaos. Again, he was right.
Richard Painter from the University of Minnesota was the loudest voice countering what is going on, and agreed this chaos is fulfilling the promises of Donald Trump. What America has become is shocking around the world. Apparently, anyone who wants to do so can take the hoods off and spew hatred. Still, Donald Trump is occupying the White House—representing these domestic terrorists, and he doesn’t allow himself to call them that.
Joan Walsh reminded us that this President ran on a platform of hate, and divided us one from another.
Paul Ryan ultimately issued a statement that said, “The views fueling the spectacle in Charlottesville are repugnant. Let it only serve to unite Americans against this kind of bigotry.” Better late than never. Republican officials are having a real hard time identifying what happened in Charlottesville; this is just the latest example of what goes on around America every day.
The North Korean leader doesn’t have to destroy America. American citizens hell bent on perpetuating racism, White supremacy, domestic terrorism, Nazism, and destruction of any progress others like me have made in America are destroying the American ideal now. It is incumbent upon all people of goodwill to RESIST. It’s up to White people to decide if they would rather be White and silent or speak out and save America. Those of us who are not white struggle everyday with trying to save the soul of America.
Dr. E. Faye Williams can be reached at: 202/678-6788; or at, www.nationalcongressbw.org