One Year Ago Today: The ‘Very Fine’ Stranger Beside You

Found this in today’s social media archives, from one year ago today. Author unknown, but incredibly on point.

Aug. 16, 2017

You know what worries me? It’s not that a group of racist idiots lit some tiki torches and decided to have a rally.

I worry that on Monday they’ll go back to their job in human resources and decide who gets hired and who gets fired.

They’ll put their uniform back on and “serve and protect.”

They’ll sit on a jury and decide the fate of a young person of color.

They’ll teach in a kindergarten class.

They’ll sit across from a couple, who came to this country, worked hard and saved, and have the power to approve or deny them a loan to purchase their first home.

They’ll decide an insurance claim.

They’ll give an estimate to repair the brakes on a mother’s only mode of transportation to get to work each day.

I don’t stay up late lamenting the fact that racists feel emboldened to parade in the street. I stay up late because racists have, do, and will apply their racist beliefs in their daily lives and, by extension mine, and they don’t do it carrying a banner to distinguish themselves.

It isn’t the theatrical that worries me. It’s the practical.

(author unknown)

My thoughts on this:

What transpired during the 2017 Unite the Right rally was anti-American, or at least, against what we are supposed to stand for. Systematic racism against POC was enshrined with the founding of this nation. That’s nothing new. That we have a third rising of the KKK, who suddenly feel emboldened to show their naked faces and identities, in public, in the age of social media and live streaming? That is new. 

That is because Trump has been grooming these people to come out of hiding ever since he propagated the birther conspiracy theory against Barack Obama, which was indisputably racist. 

What’s happening now in the age of Trump is not about party. This is not about left or right. This is not about the alt-right or the alt-left (which, incidentally, was a name given by far-right media outlets, and then perpetuated by Sean Hannity of Fox News. Hannity started using the term ‘alt-left’ to describe antifa because Fox News was trying to draw parallels to the self-described alt-right.)

No one’s denying there were witnesses, news crews, and participants on the ground who have said from the very beginning that there were people on both sides who were antagonizing each other, and some came prepared to do battle. 

However, theres a huge distinction. On one side we had unhooded, unmasked KKK members, neo-Nazis, & white supremacists, many of whom were dressed in para-military garb carrying Nazi flags, clubs, shields, and semi-automatic weapons in addition to their tiki torches, and they were screaming & shouting an ideology that has actually killed millions of people over the last 100+ years. 

On the other side we had anti-hate protesters who were fighting against racism and anti-Semitism, who, in many cases were using their bodies to protect clergy members who were also peacefully protesting.

Trump came to a press conference in Trump Tower yesterday, in which he was not supposed to take questions, and then almost immediately engaged the reporters who were supposed to be listening to him speak about infrastructure. He said, “if you look, there were people (Friday night) protesting, very quietly, the taking down of the statue of Robert E Lee.”

But in fact, as we saw all over the news, in real time, on both conservative and liberal media outlets, Friday night’s march & rally on the U of VA. campus was definitely not “very quiet.” They were chanting racial and religious slurs, hate speech, historic white supremacist phrases like “blood and soil,” and several were giving the Nazi salute. The mayor denounced the march by calling it ‘unsanctioned intimidation.’

On Trump’s statement a few seconds later, when he said, “you had some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people. On both sides,” that’s where he made it crystal clear that in his book, some nazis are “very fine people.” 

Just in case… saying it again, a little louder for the people in the back…


In addition to Trump’s ridiculous claim that there were some very fine people in the white nationalist, racist, Nazi group, it’s worth mentioning that the entire event was organized by white nationalists, racists, and Nazi groups. 

One man in that hate group said the following on camera:

“I’m carrying a pistol, I go to the gym all the time, I’m trying to make myself more capable of violence. I’m here to spread ideas and talk, but in the hopes that somebody more capable will come along and do that – somebody like Donald Trump who does not give his daughter to a Jew. Someone a lot more racist than Donald Trump.”

According to the Charlottesville police reports, it was the white nationalists who first made a mistake, by failing to adhere to an agreement on where they would demonstrate. They did so by entering into the counter protesters’ territory, and soon after, they were doing battle with counter protesters.

Yes, some counter protesters were armed with clubs and/or pepper spray. But who is to blame for the violence? Charlottesville police chief, when asked, “Do you believe that one side was more responsible than another for instigating the violence?” He unequivocally responded, “This was an alt-right rally.” 

And, of course as we all know, it was a white nationalist who killed Heather Heyer by ramming his car into a line of parked cars, which then began a fatal chain reaction into the crowd of pedestrians, reporters, and counter protesters. 

Yet, Trump suggested both sides share equal blame, and during his first speech where it seemed that the only comments he truly meant were the ad libbed ones he threw in like “bigotry on many sides, on many sides.”

Racism is not a “many-sided” issue in America. Rather, it’s one-sided, one of white supremacy.

It’s also noteworthy that during yesterday’s press conference, trump never used Heather Heyer’s name, and he failed to send public condolences to the 35 others who were injured. He also appeared to stand up for the controversial Confederate statues, asking, “is it George Washington next? You have to ask yourself, where does it stop?” so that clearly showed us which side he is on. And of course he continued to attack the press, with sentiments such as, “dishonest press, fake news,” etc. 

But the one question that has been on my mind is this: how could he possibly know that there were people in the racist group who were ‘very fine’ people? He claimed he did not even get to watch the whole thing as it was unfolding, but later, after the fact, which led to his delayed response. So, we know that he wasn’t out there among the protesters and counter-protesters, he wasn’t interviewing people and finding out what kind of a moral compass they have. So how can Trump possibly say that there were some ‘very fine’ people there?

And, for a third time, Trump failed to even mention systematic racism, or acknowledge the history of racism in America, or even how us white people’s misguided personal feelings around who is the actual recipient of racism is just feeding the cycle and worsening our relations (tip: it’s not a contest, and it’s certainly not one you should want to win).

I suppose that Trump fails to see racism as a widespread systemic issue in the first place. That he and so many other rich white men have the gall to act like they are somehow a besieged minority is beyond reason. And of course, for a third time, he failed to acknowledge what made the riots possible in the first place. I’d wage bets that he hasn’t reached out to any of the groups representing people of color, and has no intention of planning to go to Charlottesville.

For anyone who’s trying to claim that Trump ‘condemned’ the neo-Nazis and white nationalists here? He actually didn’t. He’s very careful with his words – sometimes. During this third speech on Charlottesville, he said, “you had people and I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists. They should be condemned totally.” 

Did you catch that? 

“They should be condemned totally.” 

Saying that something “should happen” is not the same thing as something actually happening. Like denouncing white nationalism forthright. He couldn’t even bring himself to say, “I condemn the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists.” Pathetic.

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