A year has passed since the tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia that truly shocked a good portion of our country. The bad news is that Donald Trump is still our President, and white nationalist groups are still on the march. But the good news is that a substantial portion of our citizenry is even more determined to stand up to hate. The big question is how we do it. Like most people, I admit I was naïve to the backlash lurking in the heartland during the years Obama was in the White House. Despite rapidly approaching my 200th birthday, I still suffer from bouts of naiveté now and then. Not for a minute did I believe all that nonsense about our living in a “post-racial” society, but I didn’t realize that such passionate, overt racism would raise its ugly head again.
On my website I talk about the overwhelming racial injustice that still exists in our society—especially the unfair treatment that black men receive at the hands of the justice system—but even I’m forced to distinguish between institutionalized, systematic racism of that sort and the virulent hatred demonstrated at Charlottesville just over a year ago. What I want to know about the white nationalists and all their ilk is what in heck they’re so angry about? Why do they feel so threatened and under siege? Never mind their irrational, never-ending hatred for black people, these people are shouting “Jews will not replace us” in a country where scarcely more than 2% of the population is Jewish! Aren’t they overreacting just a tad? Whether it be Jews, African Americans, Hispanics, or you name it, these people’s irrational fear of the “other” has left them in a perpetual state of hysterical fury.
I’ve spoken about America’s disgraceful past in dealing with the “other” on numerous occasions, and no one is more aware of that ugly history than I am (remember, I was born just a year after Andrew Jackson left office!), but I worry there’s a lot more going on here, something I’ll say more about next time.