Column: Keys Disease

Make America white again

Pity the poor white nationalist.

For years, they had to live in caves and under rocks, rightfully ashamed to show their true feelings about what they believe to be the “erasing” of white history and the white man’s accomplishments. Eight and a half years ago, however, something happened. The United States elected — gasp! — a black president.

Anger overcame shame and white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and other bottom-feeders started coming out from their holes. The Internet was a perfect forum for the spreading of their hate-filled message, and like-minded white nationalists had a big online support group. Make no mistake — the entire birther movement was nothing but a racist effort to delegitimize the nation’s first African-American president.

Years later, all the talk and rhetoric about “taking America back” has culminated in a nation divided, with bigotry and hatred becoming more mainstream, and tears flowing for Charlottesville over the death of a young woman who dared to stand up with others and confront these emboldened neo-fascists.

How did we get to this place? How do we as Americans, many of whom in our Greatest Generation fought and died to rid the world of fascism, accept this new status quo? How can we educate our populace about basic human concepts like love, tolerance and acceptance? How can we, as a freedom-loving people, put up with mobs of white supremacists carrying torches through our streets, chanting vile slogans like, “Jews will not replace us!” How did it become acceptable in the United States of America for people to wear t-shirts with Hitler quotes and proudly carry Nazi flags in public?

Utah Senator Orrin Hatch may have said it best in a tweet when he wrote, “We should call evil by its name. My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.” He is right — these hateful evil bigots need to know that they stand against everything true Americans stand for.

These are the people who want to “take our country back.” They are the ones who “suffered” under eight years of a president with darker skin. They are the ones who think that immigrants are ruining this nation and trying to erase white history. They long for a place where black people and women know their place, where immigrants at least look Anglo-Saxon (and better speak English and not be Muslims), and where Jews don’t control the media. They are the ones who create and spread all the lies and unfounded rumors about political figures with whom they disagree. They are living in a very demented fantasyland, and there are more than enough of them to feel emboldened and crawl out from under their rocks. They are what people are now calling the American Taliban.

So now we are in the aftermath of a bloody weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia. That large group of white supremacists and neo-Nazis went to Charlottesville purportedly to take our country back — and they are promising more of the same. They came prepared for violent conflict, and no doubt they encouraged it as well. As Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said about the visiting hate-mongers, “You saw the militia walking down the street, you would have thought they were an army … [the militia members] had better equipment than our State Police had.” An eyewitness to the chaotic scene recalled, “An angry mob of white supremacists formed a battle line across from a group of counter-protesters, many of them older and gray-haired, who had gathered near a church parking lot. On command from their leader, the young men charged and pummeled their ideological foes with abandon. One woman was hurled to the pavement, and the blood from her bruised head was instantly visible.”

Let our tears flow for Heather Heyer and the two Virginia State Police who were killed when their helicopter crashed. Let us help mend those who were wounded. Let us pray for the souls of those who hold this vile hatred deep in their hearts.

And let no one— not even the president of the United States — ever suggest that there is any moral equivalency between those who come to spread a message of hate, bigotry, and fascism and those with the courage to stand up against it.

Because if something like this were to happen in my hometown, I know which side of the street I’d be on.


John Bartus performs Friday with Storm Watch at the Lorelei, Saturday at the Key Colony Inn, Wednesday at Tarpon Creek at the Holiday Inn Express, Thursday at Sparky’s Landing, and Sunday and Monday evenings at the Lighthouse Grill at Faro Blanco.

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