As I observe the fallout from the confrontations and the blatant murder of a counter-protester in Charlottesville, Virginia, I’m struck by the fact that the vast majority of commentary is aimed at the white supremacists and politicians who instigated these kinds of abhorrent acts.
I hate to tell you folks, they’re not going to change.
Yes! Donald Trump is culpable for this unabashed display of hatred, and neither the President, nor the majority of his Republicans supporters, have truly condemned the actions of a group they’ve tacitly supported for years.
But even if the President and his Republican allies did unite to denounce this despicable act, it wouldn’t change much, because it’s impossible to convince evil people that they’re evil. White supremacists, by their very definition, are impervious to logic.
(As to Donald Trumps second statement on this issue, I don’t believe a word he said.)
Furthermore, these bigoted predators have always been with us they always will be. It’s the nature of this existence. These are simply sad people who need a constant supply of victims to give their fragile self-definitions meaning. The President didn’t create them, he simply tapped into their vast anger over their own failures and he reinforced the illusion that someone else is always to blame.
Donald Trump certainly isn’t nearly the first “leader” to pull that off. It’s that whole doomed to repeat history thing, right?
Before you hit the send button, I firmly believe that prayers make a difference and it warms my heart to see Facebook light up with so many statements against such abject evil. But, in the words of the great Edmund Burke, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” and social media declarations are literally the least we can do.
So, since we can’t eliminate predators, our only hope is to stop becoming victims. That’s exactly what those Charlottesville counter-protestors were doing. It’s never an easy task, it almost always requires a long-haul effort and, as Heather Heyer and her family just discovered, it often comes at a rather high cost.
But, just like cockroaches, these racist bullies always scatter when you shine a light on them long enough. That’s why the KKK wears hoods. That’s why these white supremacist are suddenly backpedaling as result of their pictures being plastered all over social media.
That’s how you beat these folks. You stand up to them in no uncertain terms and regardless of the risk. And by “stand up to them” I mean right here, right now. These very same predators can easily be found in our families, neighborhoods and churches.
It’s those Tri-Cities denizens who use racist code words to denigrate and disparage apartment dwellers. It’s the person in the next pew – or perhaps even the pastor – who goes on an anti-gay rant. It’s that neighbor who makes racist jokes about the black family that just moved in down the street.
Whenever predators go unchecked; whenever they smell fear; whenever we just “let it go,” it’s us – you and I – who create next Charlottesville. This ain’t just on Donald Trump, we have to choose not to be victims. Those white supremacists marched in Virginia because they’ve never had to face the consequences of their beliefs before.
I understand there’s a price to pay for standing up to these kinds of bullies. I’ve spent a lot of money, time, and aggravation dealing with the fallout from publicly taking on predators for 11 long years.
But I’d do it again in a heartbeat and I will continue to do it simply because it’s the right thing to do. Not to mention there’s that incredibly high Christian standard that demands it.
The mistake progressives consistently make is they believe these bullies can be beaten. But they can’t be defeated. The Civil Rights movement didn’t do it, Barack Obama couldn’t do it, and those counter-protesters can’t do it either. The best we can do is drive them back into their dark holes until the next opportunity for them to emerge presents itself.
And there will always be another opportunity for bigots to wreak their specific brand of hatred.
The required high school book that had the most effect on me was Albert Camus’, ‘The Plague.’ The final passage from that novel describes exactly the kind of vigilance I’m talking about:
“And, indeed, as he listened to the cries of joy rising from the town, Rieux remembered that such joy is always imperiled. He knew what those jubilant crowds did not know, but could have learned from books: that the plague bacillus never dies or disappears for good; that it can lie dormant for years and years in furniture and linen chests; that it bides its time in bedrooms, cellars, trunks, and bookshelves; and that perhaps the day would come when, for the bane and the enlightening of men, it would rouse up its rats again and send them forth to die in a happy city.”
It’s up to us to stop this kind of hatred, people – not Donald Trump.