It's taken less than 24 hours for the expected spin about the Nazi invasion of Charlottesville, Va. from parties who, at the very least, depend on white supremacist votes — including our nation's president. That spin? That even though only one side showed up in fake uniforms with long rifles and ran over the other side, this is somehow everyone's fault.
You hear this often during elections, especially the last election, that "both sides are bad, so …" It's a way for people making terrible decisions to distance themselves from the repercussions of said decisions by making themselves feel like it's an impossible choice. But, more insidiously, it allows them to capitalize on decent people's overwhelming urge to give others the benefit of the doubt, avoid conflict, and move on.
Let's be clear here: nobody asked for Nazis, the Klan, and more cowardly strains of "white separatists" to come to Charlottesville. The people of that town voted, deciding they didn't want racists' monuments in their public square anymore, and racists took it upon themselves to travel there, intimidate, and — once things went predictably bad — commit an act of terror straight out of ISIS' playbook.
(It's probably also worth mentioning that the alleged attacker fulfilled many a "Blue Lives Matters" supporters' bucket lists by running over people who support Black Lives Matter in the street.)
And yet, here we are, once again hearing the accusation that, somehow, the victims of violent racists are in some way responsible. That these normally peaceful advocates of genocide, forced relocation, and upholding bogus notions of racial purity through violence meant well, but, gosh darn it, somebody interrupted white men while they were speaking by torchlight.
We shouldn't be surprised. This has been the tactic of American racists for at least 160 years, stemming back to Bleeding Kansas.
If you don't remember Bleeding Kansas from history class, it's part of the five minute intro to two straight weeks of studying the Civil War. Basically, in 1854, Kansas was applying to be a state. At that time, states chose whether they would be free or slave states, which mattered a lot to slave states who worried about losing representational dominance in Congress.
When it looked like the people of Kansas were going to vote to be a free state, slave holders and complicit racists invaded Kansas. They left home to wage unspeakable terror on someone else in their own state … and yet, like the Civil War itself, slaveholder sympathizers successfully turned the conversation into one about "perspective." That, at some point, people in Kansas fought back, so really, aren't both sides to blame at least a little?
And good and decent people fall for it every time, appealing to the "better angels of our nature" for all the good that did for Lincoln.
That's why we need to remember Charlottesville, learn from it, and stop repeating this mistake of forcing victims to shoulder some of the blame for violence perpetrated against them.
And recognize that anyone who tries to make this argument, or still pretend that liberals made up the very real threat of the "Alt-Right," they are nothing less than modern day collaborators.
White people, especially white men, love us some history. (I phrased it that way so I won’t get sued by Stuff White People Like, which is nearly 50 years old now in Internet time.)
Why do we love history so much? Mostly because it’s about us, and holy crap were we the victors. Reviewing our history is figuratively like watching our very own sports highlight reel, which is literally something we haven’t been able to do since Jackie Robinson. Even when the history involved white people doing bad things, it was usually another white person that set it right.
This is why the History channel cut to the chase years ago and started serving up a hodgepodge of
World War II, when white people stopped the whitest people from killing what were considered at the time less whiter people.
Aliens. Specifically white (or very pale gray) aliens abducting white people.
The Bible, as presented in Monocolor. (Not that New World Edition with Black Jesus, mind you.)
Alaska, pawn shops and swamps because, dammit, you go where the white people are, OK?
There’s only one historical topic that white people love more than any other, and that is the U.S. Civil War. It’s a fact: non-white students are allowed to cite any white person in the bibliography of their Civil War papers up to their Master’s program, and it counts for full credit!
So, where does this zeal come from? It’s not like it’s particularly complimentary to white history, what with slavery and all. Yet, we can’t stop flying the Confederate flag even in 2013.
For instance: a Veterans Affairs hospital in Virginia took down their Confederate flags when a black patient complained, discharged him two weeks early for his PTSD treatment and then put the flags right back up as soon as he was safely out the door. Even though he’s not the only patient to complain — and although VA Medical Center at Hot Springs only treated Union soldiers during the war — that hospital needed those Confederate flags.
Or when North Carolina displayed a Confederate flag in the statehouse to “historically” reenact what it would have looked like in 1863, it didn’t matter that they weren’t even flying the flag that would have flown in the statehouse in 1863. Sure, the Confederate flag you and I know wasn’t really the CSA flag in 1863 or any other time, but they needed to fly that flag.
Or when Commanche County, Texas pretends that April is Confederate History Month just to fly the flag over its courthouse. Even for just a month, they need to fly it.
Or Brad Paisley, the country music star who can’t go to Starbucks without wearing a Confederate flag: he claims that he doesn’t know it’s racist, even though he sang a whole song about why he kind of knows it is. Even still, he needs to wear that flag.
This isn’t zeal. What we’re really talking about here is addiction.
And you can’t just ask white people to quit the Civil War cold turkey. Especially the Confederacy. If Civil War addiction is pot (every gets into it for a little while when they’re young), then the need to fly the Confederate flag is like crack cocaine or heroin: it’s harder to quit because all the things that make it worse for you also make the high better.
You cannot beat the high white people get from the Confederacy. Imagine: it’s American history plus war, facial hair and the idea that, given the chance, it could happen again, only with the whiter people winning this time! This is the purest mountain of white stuff that skydiving, bungie jumping or any other extreme sport or ideology can’t top.
It’s why the VA Medical Center at Hot Springs could barely shoo Desert Storm veteran Craig DeMouchette out the door to get another sweet, sweet hit of Confederacy. Who cares if his PTSD — which he’s apparently had since at least 1991 — is cured, right?
Or why North Carolina can’t help relapsing over and over again. Maybe it’s because they’re still hanging out with South Carolina, which has had their own Confederate flag troubles since at least 2003.
And why towns in Texas invented the equivalent of “4-20 Day,” thinking that would make it suddenly OK to fly the Confederate flag in public if “everyone’s doing it.”
Even Brad Paisley’s caffeine addiction can’t overpower his need for a CSA fix. (Although it appears his sponsor, LL Cool J, and accompanying permissive attitude isn’t doing Paisley any favors.)
And that’s why white people know so much about the U.S. Civil War and yet, really, so little about it. It’s like getting medical marijuana facts from your local pot head. Sure, we know where it was grown and what THC stands for, but we’ll act (sometimes genuinely) surprised when anybody mention that smoking it will give us cancer the same way inhaling smoke from enough cigarettes or car fires will. (It’s also coincidentally why the State’s Rights argument gets recycled to defend smokers from anti-smoking laws. Or when the Man tries to limit how many car tires you can light on fire in a place of business.)
So, how do we cure this addiction? By preventing young people from getting hooked when they eventually learn about the Civil War. Through education, we can teach a generation that, while wearing gray uniforms and marching through fields for tourists may look like fun, that those uniforms are facsimiles of ones made by slaves for their masters. Or how most of those re-enactors probably hate themselves and would quit if they hadn’t put so much time and money into their historically accurate waistcoats.
In short, we have to expose young people to the ugliness of the U.S. Civil War — and Civil War addiction — to break the cycle. And then, maybe in another 50 years, we can start the debate over again when white Southerners try to fly the segregationist flag (or the actual flag these idiots keep trying to fly right now) during their centennial reenactments of the March to Selma.
Take it from Snee: Green Day pulls the “Don’t you know who I am?!” card instead of playing the final minute of their set. Justin Bieber throws up twice on stage and doesn’t stop his show. Conclusion:the gods of punk are fickle, indeed. (Oct. 3, 2012)
Hey, you! No, the other chick on top of a manatee. Yeah, you! (Oct. 5, 2012)
So, I’m officially a resident of Virginia with all the rights and priviledges that implies. I know this because I stood in line at the DMV to get this:
Oh my god. Look at this fuckin’ hipster ID.
Black and white photo? Check.
Instagram-filtered background and … capitol building? Whatever. Check.
Smaller Ken Burns-style daguerreotype to the side, making the whole card look like your aunt’s high school photo? Check.
Black emo heart that I will gladly donate … if you’ll have it?Check.
The biggest difference between my drivers license and this one — I don’t see race — is how they listed our shared eye color. His eyes may be BRN, but my eyes are BRO. Your argument is invalid. That is, of course, the ironic use of “bro,” not genuine unhipsterly brofection.
OK, so this is a few days late. As I warned before, updates are going to be much slower until I’m settled into my new environs, much like a newly-arrived panda stud at the National Zoo. Better late than never, unlike Ling-Ling’s period.
Wounded ladies, dead zookeepers, and cracking potheads — I might have worked out some frustrations this week on SeriouslyGuys. Here’s the recap: