Unite the Right. Klan rally. Protest of a civic decision to remove the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
Call it what you want. The ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, August 12, resulted in death, arrests, worldwide condemnation, counter-protests, and an ever-growing image of how ugly America has become. The far right, the Ku Klux Klan, the defenders of the memory of the Confederacy, White Supremacists, all have found a home in the fetid atmosphere produced by the election of the 45th president.
Former KKK and Nazi leader David Duke said the Charlottesville protests were about ‘fulfilling the promises of Trump.’
‘”This represents a turning point for the people of this country,” Duke said of the Charlottesville rally. “We are determined to take our country back, we’re going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump, and that’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back and that’s what we gotta do.’
Take back the country. Make no mistake, that’s the mission of the White Nationalists, the Klan, the American Nazi.
There have been other protests, other demonstrations, with the purpose of defending the memory of the confederacy, defending the Confederate flag, some demanding that their Southern heritage be respected. An Anglo-Saxon Protestant heritage. A state’s rights heritage. A Jim Crow heritage.
Charlottesville was different. Not because the anti-Klan counter-protesters outnumbered the ‘Unite the Right’ group. Not because there were violent confrontations, tear gas, and arrests in demonstrations that lasted over two days. Not because public officials were once again forced to step up to microphones to condemn and demand justice.
It was different because of this:
and, ultimately, this
Klansmen assembled, with helmets and shields. Wielding Nazi salutes. Swastikas and Stars and Bars icons on display. A protest that spawned violence. And ultimately, a man reported to by a Nazi sympathizer, drove his car into the anti-Klan crowd, killing Heather Heyer, who was among the demonstrators protesting the white nationalists’ rally.
This is a turning point in the struggle against anti-American White Nationalism. There can be no mistaking that these white supremacists, whether they’re in the Klan or in Nazi garb, Confederate sympathizers or secessionists, stand for nothing that America was founded on. Nothing that the Constitution proclaims as rights and freedoms of the common person. Nothing that a free society cherishes for all its people. Their beliefs and goals and creeds and dogmas belong more to Mein Kampf than the Constitution. Thier leaders would be welcomed by Hitler. So let’s be clear: The people in helmets and shields and swastikas and hooded robes and stars and bars are Nazis. And they have lost the right to call themselves Americans. One world war was fought to destroy that evil. Everything Nazis stood for was crushed. It cannot be allowed to rise again.
Joe Brewer is a journalist, author, parent, and veteran. He has worked at publications in Japan, Canada, and the United States. Brave New Deadline is a continuation of a newspaper column created in 1992. Email him at email@example.com