I’ve been having a difficult time grappling with what happened last weekend not because it happened – we knew this would happen, it was a when, not an if – but because our president failed the single easiest moral test: condemning Nazis.
Instead, I keep stumbling over the fact that there are human beings in this country who can look at a sea of white men carrying tiki torches and chanting white supremacist slogans, can hear those same white supremacists calling for ethnic cleansing, and still say “both sides are bad.”
I’m not surprised that there are Nazis in our country. They’ve always been here, a stain allowed by our facade of tolerance – a tolerance that only seems to be touted for white people, btw. I am surprised by the sympathizers. The people who say “but both sides…”
This is going to get worse. I don’t know what to do aside from stand up and shout. Vote, obviously. But I’ve been doing that for a long time. But talking needs to happen, too.
I skyped with my mom last Monday and although every thought I had was surrounded by Charlottesville, we didn’t touch on it until the end. And that was when my mom asked, “where did these people come from?” And I was flabbergasted. Because they’ve been here, they’ve always been here. They shoot up theaters and mosques and night clubs. They murder trans people and stab women who turn them down. They shoot black children holding skittles.
I keep reading people saying “this is not US.” But it IS US. These people are us. These people are American. This hate is woven deep within our society. We can’t let it be buried again. We have to confront it. We have to drag it out and have these conversations that hurt. Because yes, there are Nazis and yes, there are white supremacists, but they are an extreme. What leads to that extreme is everywhere around us – our words, our biases, our system.
It’s fun to punch Nazis. It’s a whole lot more difficult to talk to your uncle about racism. But it’s a conversation we all need to have.