Two years ago, the Charlottesville rally woke America up. In 2017, many of us believed that we lived in a post racial and religious society. We judged our fellow citizen as individuals, not based on factors such as race, religion, family origin, etc.
Then Nazis marched through Charlottesville carrying lighted tiki torches stating that “Jews will not replace us”. By the time all was said and done, Heather Heyer was dead after being hit by a car driven by a neo-Nazi.
Looking back, the signs of a rising acceptance of hatred and prejudice was there, if one only paid attention to the signs. Though I firmly believe that you know who is partly to blame, he is not the sole reason for the riot.
Sometimes, change only comes with a hard knock. Two years, America had it’s hard knock. The question, as I see it, how we, as Americans proceed from here. Do we let these neo-Nazis and members of the alt-right hijack this country or do we tell them in no uncertain terms that this country belongs to everyone, regardless of labels?
In our politically and socially divided world, the easy thing to do is to do nothing and let someone else step on the soapbox. It is far more difficult to get on that soapbox and do what right, even in the face of massive opposition.
Two years ago, the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia was the badly needed wake up call that America needed. We may think that racism and prejudice is a thing of the past. But that day proved that it is still alive and well in the United States.
Terry McAuliffe was then Governor of Virginia. In his new book, Beyond Charlottesville: Taking a Stand Against White Nationalism, the former Governor writes about the time before, during and after the rally. He is candid about his frustration with the bureaucracy of the city government, his belief that the rally should not have happened and the steps he took after the rally to prevent another unnecessary loss of life.
I wish there were more politicians like former Governor McAuliffe. He saw the coming storm in the distance and did what he had to do. It was not easy what he did, but did what he could to stand up for democracy and against those who would use hate to further a destructive agenda.
In 2018, many of us think that we live in post racial society. Last year’s rally in Charlottesville proved otherwise.
On one hand, one could argue that we are on the way to a post racial society. The counter protesters were made of Americans all backgrounds, colors and creeds who represent the idealistic American society where every citizen regardless of labels has the same rights and privileges. But, on the other hand, the white nationalists who started the protest prove that discrimination, prejudice and racial barriers are still alive and well in America.
A year later the statement “Jews will not replace us” still sends a chill down my spine. One should be able to say that this particular statement is relegated to newsreels of Germany in the early 1930’s. But the reality is that this statement was spoken by Americans in the early 21st century.
My hope (as faint as it is) is that the Charlottesville Rally is a turning point for American. The rose-colored glasses have been knocked off our faces and our eyes are opened. Heather Heyer did not die in vain. She gave as much to her country as any soldier fighting overseas.
Only time will tell how future Americans will judge our current generation. The only thing I know is that the events in Charlottesville one year ago will never be forgotten.
One of the core freedoms of our American democracy is freedom of speech. The basic tenet of this freedom is that one is allowed to act or speak against the government without fear of reprisal or persecution. Unfortunately, freedom of speech has become twisted in a manner recently that does not reflect its true meaning.
Last week, the NFL made a decision in regards to their players kneeling during the National Anthem. In response to players such as Colin Kaepernick kneeling to protest injustice against communities of color, the ruling stated that personnel may sit or kneel during the Anthem, however, they must do so in the locker room. If they are on the field, they must stand. Any personnel who do not stand while on the field will be fined.
I’m not a football fan, but I am a fan of freedom of speech. This ban smacks of hypocrisy from my perspective. Those who took a knee or sat during the Anthem were only acting as any American does when they see injustice happening. They were publicly protesting, which is a right guaranteed by the Constitution. The hypocrisy comes into play when those who claim to love the Anthem and everything it stands for, uses it to spread their hateful rhetoric or encourage violence (i.e. the rally in Charlottesville last year).
This ruling is a perversion of American democracy. My fervent hope and prayer is that this ruling is overturned. But until then, I will stand with the players who use their platform and celebrity for a good cause. Not just because it the right thing or the fair thing to do, but also because it represents everything that American can and should be.
The rally in Charlottesville two weeks ago was a shock to America. It revealed not only our differences, but the schisms that are keeping us apart. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a disaster to bring us together. This weekend, that disaster is Hurricane Harvey.
Many of my regular readers know that I am a born and bred New Yorker. I lived through both 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy. The thing I remember about both is that we temporarily forgot our differences and remembered that we are all Americans. If we needed a kick in the behind to remind us of this, Hurricane Harvey is that kick.
Whatever our differences are, we need to put those aside and help our fellow citizens. Whether it is a donation to a reputable charity or volunteering to help the victims, please give. Our fellow citizens need us.
The rally in Charlottesville nearly two weeks ago rattled all of us. If nothing else, it was a sad and scary reminder that hate and prejudice are still alive and well in America.
In the face of the all the hatred and prejudice that come to the light, it’s easy so say nothing and give into the fear. What is right and harder to do is to stand up to the hate.
Musician Billy Joel stood up to the hate. He wore a yellow star at his concert last night. Jews were forced to wear yellow stars during World War II, marking them for persecution and ultimately death.
“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”-Albert Einstein
I think the one lesson that I personally take away from Charlottesville is that we have stand up and fight. We have to be vocal, we have to be loud and we have to drown out the voices of hate. If we don’t speak up and speak up loudly, hate has won once more and we not learned the lessons of the past.
“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”
The phrase above has in recent decades been used when referring to the Holocaust. But while it refers to a specific event in history, the phrase itself has the potential to be used for other events in history.
In the wake of the rally in Charlottesville last weekend, local governments and citizens alike have either called for the removal and/or destruction of monuments from the Confederate South or have had them removed completely.
It feels to me like a double-edged sword. We cannot white wash history and pretend that the horrors of slavery did not happen in America, but at the same time, if we do decide to remove them from the public arena, what are we teaching our children?
If American society has a cross to bear, it is the enslavement of African-Americans and the scar that still exists from that enslavement in our society generations after The Civil War. Racism still exists in America (as was dreadfully highlighted last weekend) and remains a blight on the ideals laid out by our Founding Fathers.
The only compromise I can think of is to not whitewash history and use the past (and the monuments dedicated those who were part of the Confederate South) as a teaching tool. We can only learn from history (and prevent it from happening again) is to learn from the mistakes of the generations who have come before us.
That being said, I would like to know the opinion of my readers. Should we remove the statues and be done with it or use it as teaching tool for this generation and future generations?
A President, regardless of his or her party or beliefs is the moral authority and should be leading the nation, especially during a crisis.
President Trump has failed in both areas (no surprise there). His remarks after last weekend’s rally in Charlottesville proved that he is neither the moral authority nor is he far from qualified to lead the nation, especially during this crisis.
What President Trump should have said is in the video above. Thank you Arnold Schwarzenegger for standing up for what is right and speaking truth to power.
It’s not uncommon knowledge that Ivanka Trump converted to Judaism when she married Jared Kushner. It is also common knowledge Jared’s grandparents survived the Holocaust. Their children are being raised Jewish. I would think (and hope) that Trump’s reaction, not a President, but as a father and grandfather would be of outrage and anger.
I know this has been said many times since last weekend, but my grandfathers, like millions of their brothers in arms, fought against fascism in World War II. The sons of Jewish immigrants, they put their lives on the line to protect America and her values. The fact that Trump has subtly given the alt-right the go ahead to slither out of the rocks they came from speak to his incompetence and how ill prepared he is to lead this country.
P.S. Did anyone else do a happy dance when Steve Bannon was fired?
This past weekend was heavy to say the least. The rally in Charlottesville reminded us of how precious our freedoms are and how easily they can be taken away from us.
The video below has been making the rounds on my social media for the last two days. Though it was made in 1943, it has not lost its potency or its message. It is a relevant in 2017 as it was in 1943.
Martin Niemoller was a Protestant Pastor who openly spoke up against the Nazi regime and survived 7 years in a concentration camp. He is best remembered for the following:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist./Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist./Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew./Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
I think the valuable lesson we learned from this past weekend is that when we are stronger together. When we fight among ourselves and forget that the other person we are looking at is a human being, then we have lost the battle.
One of the most prophetic lessons of the Holocaust can be summed up in one quote:
“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”
Despite the violence, I have seen a spark of hope. It was the people who came to protest against the White nationalists and the government leaders who spoke out against the hatred. Perhaps, after all of these years, after the needless killing of millions, we have finally learned from history and will not repeat the mistakes of the past.
I’m not a huge fan of the classic musicals, but sometimes, one of them resonates so deeply that it is as relevant in 2017 as it was when it was initially introduced to audiences.
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1949 musical, South Pacific is set on an unnamed island in the South Pacific during World War II. The underlying message of the narrative is basically that racism of any kind is wrong. The story focuses on the will they or won’t they relationship between two couples: an American nurse and a French expatriate plantation owner with mixed race children and a soldier and a native girl.
While the show has it’s lighter moments, one the best remembered songs (in my opinion at least), is “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught”.
The rally in Charlottesville yesterday proved that America has a long way to go in achieving the ideals of the Founding Fathers.
It did not help, of course, that President Trump’s statement was vague and he did not outright condemn the hate filled marchers, but honestly who is surprised by that?
We were warned, btw by Hillary Clinton last year.
Heather Heyer lost her life to this hate. I hope this is a wake up call for all Americans. The progress we have made as Americans in reaching the ideals set forth by the Founding Fathers represents the work of multiple generations. But for as much work as we have done, this weekend proves that we still have a long way to go.