Last weekend, along with millions of Americans, I watched in horror as the events in Charlottesville (VA) unfolded. I couldn’t believe my eyes seeing young white men marching across the campus of University of Virginia, a so-called liberal college, holding tiki torches screaming, “Jews will not replace us!”.
For a moment, I thought I was watching a bad horror movie or a scene from “The Walking Dead” where all the villagers have turned into racist zombies.
Then, it dawned on me that this was actually happening in a city in the U.S., in 2017.
Of course, neo-Nazi rallies should come as no surprise. Since Donald J. Trump was elected as President of the U.S., it’s as if in-your-face racism has made a comeback, a side effect of electing a man who was not only overwhelmingly endorsed by white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the alt-right but a man who never denounce their support.
Instead, current President of the United States ran a campaign filled with racist rhetoric and has always chosen to remain silent when white men carry out their hate-driven attacks against ethnic minorities.
Whether it’s shooting of nine Afro-American parishioners at a church, stabbing and killing of a man in NYC by a white man who proudly claimed he traveled hundreds of miles to “kill multiple black men”, to a white supremacist who rammed his car into a crowd killing a young woman in Charlottesville, the only response our country has gotten from our so-called President has been deafening silence and indifference.
So, it’s no wonder that racists from all walks of life are emboldened to act out on their warped ideology and that there’s been a spike in hate crimes since the November election.
Sadly, for many Americans who believed we were living in a post-racial society, the events in Charlottesville has been a rude wake up call, like a bucket of ice cold water thrown on a hibernating bear.
I woke up on Saturday morning to Facebook and Twitter feeds bombarded with UVA coverage. Most Americans, even political pundits were shock and were asking themselves how is this still happening in 2017? What is happening to our country? The country that elected first African-American President. The country that welcomed and enabled immigrants like my mother to thrive. What happened to THAT country?
Although I knew all too well that America was also deeply flawed, I believed we, as a nation, always managed to get back on the right course of humanity. As Dr. Martin Luther King poignantly said, “The Arc of the Moral Universe Is Long, But It Bends Toward Justice.”
But here we are in the 21st Century, watching angry white men holding tiki torches shouting “blood and soil”. Angry white men with their arms outstretched in the Nazi salute holding flags with swastikas and Confederate flags in plain sight.
Watching these angry young white men marching through UVA campus invoked images of Hitler youth in Germany, which I’m sure was the point of the rally.
Hitler and the Nazi Party preyed upon the economic devastation left by WWI, and even before Hitler came to power, Nazis Brownshirts roamed the streets provoking and inciting violence in order to create chaos. Then, Hitler promised to bring order to society and to restore Germany’s original strength.
Sounds familiar? “Make America Great Again.”
Emboldened and proclaiming victory after a bloody weekend in Virginia, white supremacists are planning more demonstrations and rallies all over the United States.
However, I will not accept that KKK, neo-Nazis and angry white men marching down our streets is the new normal!
It’s easy to say, “never forget,” to assume that the world has learned its lesson, but unless we move beyond simply remembering and take an active part in standing against white supremacists and racism, we could find ourselves repeating a regrettable history.
We all need to be vigilant, resist and fight!
I’m not going to let fear to quiet me. I have a voice, and I’m going to use it, as loudly as I can.