Let’s call yesterday’s event in Charlottesville what it was: The Unite the White Rally.
Women don’t normally speak about their age, but in this case, I am making an exception. I will be 34 next month. In my life, I have never seen a white supremacist rally like I did yesterday. Some reports called it the largest white supremacist rally in decades, and I am inclined to agree with them. I asked my mother when the last time was that she had seen a spectacle such as yesterday, and she replied, “not since the 60’s.”
August 12 was ugly. It was unnecessary. It was reprehensible, repugnant, and most of all, it was completely and utterly un-American. The hashtag #Charlottesville was trending on Twitter and Facebook, and for all the wrong reasons yesterday, including the deaths of three individuals, one being a woman, Heather Heyer, who was just a year or two younger than me who was there protesting the hate. The other two were Virginia State Police officers Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, who died when their helicopter lost control and spiraled out of the sky while providing air security for the rally which was organized by white supremacist and Nazi sympathizing groups.
There has been a great deal said over the last 24-36 hours. Images of torches marching through the night sparked eerily familiar images of KKK rallies from the early 1900’s, and chants like ‘blood and soil’ and ‘Jew will not replace us’ leave absolutely no question as to what the true motivation of Jason Kessler, Richard Spencer, and those that think like them were truly in Charlottesville to accomplish. Rally attendees arrived with mace and bats, wearing riot-style gear, ready for a fight, and fight they did, until a young girl lay dead in the streets, with 20 to 30 other men, women, and young people injured after a Neo-Nazi revved the engines to his car and mowed them down in the street with no remorse.
But perhaps some of the more disturbing parts of this, besides the fact that the rally happened and the events that occurred due to it, is that these people, these members of the so called ‘alt-right’, these white supremacist thugs, these Neo-Nazi sympathizers, have seemingly gained a foothold, however small, in the Republican Party of Virginia. One needs to look no further to see that is the case when Corey Stewart equates conservative speech with the gutter speak that was being hurled in Charlottesville. Stewart made the comments during a five-minute long, recorded statement on Facebook, which as of this writing, is available to view here:
“Unfortunately, in the aftermath of Charlottesville there will be those on the Left, the media, the democrats, the liberals, who will use this as an excuse to further crack down on Conservative speech.”
Let me be very clear; What happened in Charlottesville on the weekend of August the 12th has nothing to do with republican values or conservative principles. But this statement from Stewart cannot be ignored, and neither can the pictures of Corey Stewart standing right next to Jason Kessler, because there are people in the Republican Party who do believe that the racism and white supremacist ideals Kessler and his ilk hold do represent conservative speech, and that bigotry of any form is not only tolerated, but welcomed in the GOP. When Stewart, or anyone for that matter, chooses to correlate conservative speech with hate speech, they are giving Kessler and his goons the cover they need to slip into the Republican Party. For those of us that are members of local GOP units, or active in Virginia GOP politics, I am sure that if we are honest with ourselves, we can each name one or two people that are either members of our local committee, or that we see online via social media, who we know are not in accordance with the following tenant of the Virginia Republican Creed:
“All individuals are entitled to equal rights, justice, and opportunities and should assume their responsibilities as citizens in a free society.”
As republicans, we have humored these people long enough. It is time to start standing up to them, time to start holding them accountable for the vile words that spew from their mouths onto their keyboards, and eventually, onto our computer screens. Yes, it can be intimidating – who wants to be ‘that guy’ at a unit meeting that stands up and pulls an individual out of the new membership voting block to question that individual about questionable, racist commentary he or she has made? I don’t know too many people who salivate at that (okay, maybe I do, come to think of it), but I am proud to say that I do know people who have done it, and thank God that they did; our party is better off because of their sense of duty.
Younger folks such as myself should take this responsibility especially seriously, because we are the future of this party, and our children will be the future of this party. We have the ability to directly control what the Grand Old Party will look like in 20 to 30 years. What kind of party do we want to leave for our next generation? One that stood up to people like Kessler, and those in our ranks who would not only defend him, but take on his hateful ideals and rhetoric? Or one that swept this issue under the rug, only to allow it to fester into a safe haven of vitriol and bigotry?
I choose the former. Come Hell or high water, we need to start standing up and calling out those who shout racist, supremacist ideals at the top of their lungs. We need to drum them out of our party at every level. Only then can we direct our attention to, and deal with, other extreme and violent ideologies that find their homes in other parties and sub-cultures of our society.
We have to start calling a spade a spade. Yesterday’s rally was not about ‘Uniting the Right’ – there was nothing ‘right’ about it, in either deed or ideology. Yesterday’s rally, and to be clear, any rally, that Kessler et al. are a part of, is about Uniting the White.
The Republican Party was founded in 1854 to combat and end slavery. It is known as ‘The Party of Lincoln’ for a reason. Those like Kessler, Spencer, Heimbach, and Duke, who would place the value of a person on their skin color, their religion, their ethnicity, or their sexuality have no place here. Those who would stand beside people like Kessler and use him, and those like him, for their own political purposes have no place in this party, and those who support the aforementioned groups of people have no place in this party.
To those who think like Kessler, Spencer, etc., to those who would defend them, and to those who would use them for their own personal, political gain – You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.