I am writing this the day before Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day is a day that we recognize (as we always should) the sacrifice and difficulty, joy and empowerment, that is our mothers. Who is there with words of encouragement that are pivotal to your actions of the day? For myself, these are my Mother’s actions, real manifestations of family and wisdom that she radiates every day.
So when I saw that Richard Spencer, David Duke, and other identarians were protesting in Charlottesville this evening I wondered, where are their mothers?
So what is an identarians? You might have wondered why I didn’t say Alt-Right, or white supremacist. While those terms might be applicable to Duke and Spencer as well as the others in Charlottesville, identarian is a term that is at the heart of the matter. The Wikipedia definition is rather generic and simply is “Politics based on social identity”. NPI (National Policy Institute) is the think-tank of Spencer himself and according to NPI, an identarian is someone whose political beliefs are anchored by, “heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent”. In the video that explained this phenomenon, Spencer appears appealing to the lost sheep. The white people of European decent, must band together, and this glue, the one thing that will unite white people is their shared heritage and decent (sometimes ethnic, sometimes regional, sometimes cultural?).
So why come to Charlottesville? To protect the honor of Confederate generals? Maybe to send a message to PC culture? Perhaps they respect the history of the South so much as to save a statue? Maybe it is all the above. Certainly, one could write multiple volumes on the subject of identarianism and its place in the hearts of white people. Historically, there is little use for delineation by race, at least until Spanish colonialization of the new world. Whether there ever was such thing as a European ancestry, much less some sort of common European goal is an extremely debatable point. However, political movements aren’t built on historical truth and never were. What Spencer and Duke want is white people to become racially conscious, and then act on this new-found consciousness. My real question is, why? Why do the people of Charlottesville need to listen to a bunch of 20 to 30 year-old, preppy, out-of-towners have to tell us? That we all need to be woken? That our identity, our self- worth, is not in religion or our family, or our work, or even Virginia? But that instead our identity, and values should be dictated by where our ancestors came from? The same ancestors that were leaving Europe for freedom in their life? The same ancestors that fought to break the European chains of colonization, racism, religious sectarianism, economic immobility, and crazy kings? Are these the same people that aren’t with their own families or working their own jobs on a beautiful Saturday evening? Robert E. Lee would be rolling in his grave to see the way these people from outside of Virginia (and born in Boston) telling Virginian’s that they are wrong to trust in God, to trust in their family, to put trust in their laws and God-given rights, but instead should trust some European-DNA cult. As a Southerner, I cannot stand for this, as a Virginian I cannot stand for this, and as a Christian and American I cannot stand for this.
But that still doesn’t answer the question as to why, why march and band together and even encourage scorn? While some desire attention and glory, the biggest reason is simple. They want to belong. These people aren’t marching for the “white race” or even because they care about Lee. They are marching the same reason many people at many different political rallies do. They don’t feel like they have a real family, a real identity or culture. Perhaps they weren’t as lucky as I was, to have a Mother that taught me where true belonging and identity came from. And it certainly had nothing to do with the color of my skin, but rather what was in my heart. The belonging and family that identarians think they have is fleeting and perverse. Then for a while maybe they will be alone, but a new movement will pop up. A new place to be, or cause to fight for, that gives them belonging. And again. And again. And again.
So, on Mother’s Day, as angry people are marching in Charlottesville, I genuinely feel grief and thankfulness. Grief for the angry and mislead hearts of those looking for real belonging where there is none. Like a mirage of a well in a desert, they will continue until it disappears. But grateful for my mother and all the others out there that gave me lasting senses of family, purpose, and value.