Dearest Charlottesville

Dearest Charlottesville

  In May, white nationalist demonstrators protested a decision by the City Council of Charlottesville, Va., to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee.  Richard B. Spencer , a graduate of the University of Virginia, current president of the  National Policy Institute , and a leading promoter of  alt-right ideology  spearheaded the event: "  What brings us together is that we are white, we are a people, we will not be replaced."    On August 12, a gathering billed as Unite the Right is expected to draw a large swath of  far-right extremist groups .

In May, white nationalist demonstrators protested a decision by the City Council of Charlottesville, Va., to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee. Richard B. Spencer, a graduate of the University of Virginia, current president of the National Policy Institute, and a leading promoter of alt-right ideology spearheaded the event: "What brings us together is that we are white, we are a people, we will not be replaced."

On August 12, a gathering billed as Unite the Right is expected to draw a large swath of far-right extremist groups.


One way to understand the alt-right is not as a movement but as a collective experiment in identity, in the same way that many people use anonymity on the Internet to test more extreme versions of themselves.

Benjamin Wallace-Wells, The New Yorker

 

Our dream is a new society, an ethno-state that would be a gathering point for all Europeans. It would be a new society based on very different ideals than, say, the Declaration of Independence.

Richard B. Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute

 

The organizers of the rally want confrontation; do not gratify their desire.

Teresa A. Sullivan, president of the University of Virginia


  White-rights activist  Jason Kessler .    Photo: Southern Poverty Law Center.

White-rights activist Jason Kessler.

Photo: Southern Poverty Law Center.

There Is No...

In time, we will see if the Southern Poverty Law Center was putting it mildly when they said that far-right groups "from immigration foes to anti-Semitic bigots, neo-Confederates, Proud Boys, Patriot and militia types, outlaw bikers, swastika-wearing neo-Nazis, white nationalists and Ku Klux Klan members" are among those "emboldened by the Trump presidency."

Probably.

If so, sadly.

But I believe it would be egregiously naive—not to mention, a classic example of scapegoating—to blame No. 45 for this.

As if this is just another political item in a long list of partisan point-scoring.

As if the individual hearts of men and women somehow lean good, somehow self-correct, somehow heal, after all the years.

As if the tribal impulses of people are not the stuff of Sociology 101.

~

Among the "alt-right" crowd, it is hard for me to find any actual, comprehensive vision to heal—to mend the fissures and fractures of American society; to redeem the breadth and width of our social story.

There exists no lively passion (that is also life-giving) for a cultural transformation or a social renewal that includes everyone.

There is no sincere—or even faux-sincere—hope for a qualitatively better experience of local or national community; for a more enriched life in community with different and diverse others.

In fact, there appears no compelling or cohering moral virtue—from the wisdom of sacred scripture or social history—in their guiding ideas.

There is—devastatingly—no love outside oneself, one's race, one's culture.

There is only misguided intellect masquerading and marauding as cultural grievance and the naked will to power.

There are only the recycled temptations of social Darwinism's ever-present end-game: competition, conflict, supremacy, exclusion.

~

To those who would engage "them" in active resistance and demonstrative protest; who would meet "them" within the public square and along the streets that Jefferson built—

Good.

Fine.

Exercise your liberty.

Assert your conscience.

But, Lord have mercy, don't allow violence to seep through the cracks of anger.

There is no cause justly served by shouting meaner; by attacking or assaulting; by dehumanizing the one who dehumanizes.

It matters not the vestments of moral outrage or cultural defense: Uncivil has no sustainable power to socially critique what has shown itself to be unequivocally uncivil


Of Whites and Men

Of Whites and Men

Fighting Wolves

Fighting Wolves