I am given to writing about what happened in Charlottesville last weekend.
I am going to do that by articulating my disgust with (the vast majority of) white liberalism.
Let’s start with liberalism as a political philosophy.
To be a liberal is, most briefly, to believe that freedom is a very good thing and to be prioritized in political dilemmas, with the balance that people are in some fundamental way/s equal. The whole idea of ‘freedom’ as we understand it in the US of A is an articulation of this premise; our nation’s ideals are pretty well in parallel with France’s national motto from the French Revolution, which translates as “Liberty, equality, fraternity/brotherhood”.
Liberty is the freedom for everyone to do what they want; equality is everyone being legally equal to one another, in opposition to a formal royalty; fraternity is group unity in love and solidarity. This pretty well outlines what it means to be an American, given that the French Revolution was a sibling of the American one.
I tend to focus on how, because the USA is a settler nation and doesn’t have ancestral roots on the land it exists on, we are pretty fucking serious about being a nation of ideals and values. France certainly has those values, but it also has a cultural ancestry and history extending thousands of years. Meanwhile, the United States of America is the product of genocidal colonization and enslavement of people of African ethnic extraction.*
Put frankly, we don’t really have a cultural right to be here except with some amount of ‘might makes right’.
This country, and its non-indigenous American citizens, are here because of morally bankrupt white people who were really good at killing indigenous people in their way, and enslaving Black people, for God and money.
Which is why white Americans can get pretty… intense about what a great country we are.
(* – Make no mistake, chattel slavery is as essential to this country’s existence as colonization of the land. Black enslavement was fundamental to the British colonies’ existence more than 100 years before the Declaration of Independence; Black blood was the fuel of our rise to a global power; racism in general and anti-Blackness specifically remain the most fundamental engine of our national wealth. This country exists in a form that we would find recognizable because of the subjugation and violent abuse of people of the social class now referred to as Black.)
I say all that as preface to saying this:
White liberals, please know that the events of this weekend in Charlottesville were a product of the political and economic systems that were created for your benefit, set forth in light of the ideals you value and hold dear.
Nazis and white supremacists are allowed to promote their ideals and values because free speech.
Nazis and white supremacists around the country are allowed to organize a meet-up in a Southern town that they don’t actually give two fucks about because freedom of association.
They’re allowed to file for official permits and be guarded by police, who may or may not do anything about them beating the crap out of counter-protestors, because freedom of assembly.
And when one of them kills someone with his car, that neo-Nazi has the right to argue in court that, no, actually, he was just so helpless and scared that he had no choice but to run dozens of people over, and Heather Meyer’s death, while tragic (*cough* fat, useless slut *cough*), was the result of understandable and acceptable actions by the defendant that were in no way criminal.
Though apparently it’s from a July white supremacist rally (who can keep track of them all?), this picture is a reflection of liberal values in practice:
To white liberals:
Are you okay with that?
Are you okay with that man being in danger for his physical health and life if he isn’t wearing a police uniform?
Because, unfortunately, I don’t see your political values doing much to make this situation go away.