Under normal circumstances, the phrase “if you’re not with us, you’re against us,” is a horrible thing to say. There’s plenty of room for nuance in debates over economic policy, political strategy, how to chop an onion, and whether Korean tacos are an acceptable mash of food culture.
But when white supremacists take the streets with torches, Nazi flags, and white Klan hoods, the phrase, “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” suddenly has value. If you’re not willing to publicly declare your opposition to hate groups whose political stances include expulsion of mass quantities of Americans from their homeland or the physical harm of people of color, then you are siding with the Nazis. You are siding with the Klan. You are siding with the fascists. Because refusing to condemn them means you maybe sorta kinda a little teeny tiny bit agree with them.
Which makes you, by the way, a sorta kinda little teeny tiny bit Nazi. Or a Klan member. And with those people, there’s really no middle ground. There’s no such thing as half a Klan member. When you’re a sorta kinda little teeny tiny bit of a Nazi, you’re really just a whole fucking Nazi.
So here’s my question to you:
Do you want to be on the side of the fascists, the Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan? Do you want to be on the side of the people who lynched black Americans in the streets? The people who put six million human beings in ovens? The people who enslaved, tortured, and removed from their homeland millions of humans?
Or do you want to be on the side of the “greatest generation,” the war heroes of WWII, the liberators of Europe? The side of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement that ensured liberty and freedom for all? The side of Abraham Lincoln and the reunification of the United States?
You have to choose. And you have to choose now. Because the Nazis are marching. The Klan is marching. The Confederacy is marching. And you can bet they’re not going to be satisfied with a single torchlight rally and a car plowing into a crowd. This war is nowhere near over. This war is just beginning.
Which side are you on?
Here are five simple ways to fight back against the kind of white supremacy we’re seeing in Charlottesville and across America. You don’t have to do all of these steps, but you should do as many as you can. And you should do the first two, unquestionably, all the time, wherever possible and in as many ways as possible.
1. Publicly declare your condemnation of white supremacy and Nazism.
This is the most important step! By doing this you will open yourself up for conversations with other individuals about why white supremacy is not to be tolerated, especially white folks who might be inclined to a little teeny tiny bit of Nazi defense on the supposed grounds of protecting free speech. Remember that just doing it once isn’t good enough. You also need to do it at Thanksgiving for the benefit of your aunt Maude and your cousin Andrew who might have been at the Charlottesville rally, thinking about going to the Charlottesville rally, or sympathizing with the Nazis and white supremacists at the Charlottesville rally.
To those kinds of people, all you have to say is this:
And remember that we fought a pretty big war about slavery, too, and that we also had a few decades of political action that was dedicated to providing equal rights under the law to non-white folks, and historically, it doesn’t really seem important to rehash those days. Slavery lost. Jim Crow lost. Let’s move on.
2. Talk to people about why Nazism and white supremacy are not okay and are not protected political movements, free speech, or viable ideologies.
If you are constantly doing Step 1, these conversations should happen naturally. You will encounter people who think that the white supremacists and Nazis at the rally have the “right to be heard”. Remember that the views of white supremacists are that people of white European descent are a biologically superior race and that all other races do not deserve the same protections or legal status! Remember also that the views of Nazis are that Jews are polluting the Earth and ought to be eradicated! Do you think those “opinions” should be “heard”? I didn’t think so! Take a stand and explain to your white friends and family who might be inclined towards a little teeny tiny bit of Nazism that job security and economic anxiety are in no way equivalent to the eradication of other races. This is not about job security. This is not about economic anxiety. This is about hatred and fear of the “other” and the desperate need to maintain a superior status.
3. Call your elected representatives and ask them to introduce legislation that outlaws fascist and Nazi speech.
Fascism is defined as, “a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition,” according to Merriam-Webster.
Nazism is defined as, ” the body of political and economic doctrines held and put into effect by the Nazis in Germany from 1933 to 1945 including the totalitarian principle of government, predominance of especially Germanic groups assumed to be racially superior, and supremacy of the führer,” according to Merriam-Webster.
Remember that big war we fought from 1942-1945? The one that ended with a couple of nukes going off in Japan? That war was fought to eradicate Nazism and fascism from the world. And because America’s founding principles are democratic in nature, totalitarian, autocratic governments are intrinsically contrary to American ideals. This means that, as an American, supporting fascism and Nazism is tantamount to treason. Call your elected representatives and ask them to sponsor legislation in your state legislature and in the federal legislature that outlaws fascist and Nazi speech, gatherings, and actions.
4. Donate to groups that support and protect the rights of people of color.
You might have noticed in the definitions of fascism and Nazism above that both ideologies are rooted in a belief in race-based superiority. This means that as these groups grow, immigrants, people of color, and people of differing religions will be disproportionately targeted for acts of hate and violence. Already in 2017 we have seen a sharp spike in hate crimes and racially-motivated violence. One easy way to fight white supremacy is to donate to groups that protect the bodies and livelihoods of multicultural, multinational persons. A list of good potential organizations is provided at the bottom of this post.
5. Counter protest!
There are rallies taking place all across America to stand united in opposition to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. Although many of them happened on Sunday, August 13, there will be more. And contrary to what a lot of Nazi-sympathizers and white supremacists will tell you, taking a stand with the anti-fascists is a great way to work to prevent fascism in this country. (Check out this article about the defeat of fascism in Britian in 1936 for a great historical example.) So find a protest in your county or state, make signs, get out doors, and stand united against white supremacy, Nazism, and hate.
To follow up with action item #4, here is a short list of groups or causes that could use a little extra love right now:
Solidarity CVille Anti-Racist Legal Fund
CVille Resists White Supremacy
[Note: This post is written broadly and does not target any one ethnic or racial group. However it should be noted that the vast majority of the responsibility for dismantling and challenging white supremacy should rest on the shoulders of white folks, even though people of color are unfortunately forced into doing far more of the work out of fear for their livelihoods, bodies, and communities.]
Excellent, My Friend, well said!
Thank you, Eric. It’s important to say it again and again.
I find this period in our history baffling, with each day bringing up a new headline or story to make one step back and think; how. How did we reach this point?
Or is it simply a case of a point catching up with us? I sympathise entirely with the (particularly but not exclusively) black and female voices saying, “oh, suddenly you’re worried? We were worrying about this shit before a tyrant got elected.” And they’re right of course. This has always simmered in the background, and now this idiotic puppet with his Neo-Nazi cabal have allowed it to boil.
I find dismay in the endless drip of stories of open corruption, racism and the general breakdown in diplomacy. I take heart from the voices of people who are making so much noise. I’m actually looking forward to His visit to the UK. I just know we are going to give him a ‘warm’ welcome, and remind him there isn’t a corner of the globe that he can infect without meeting the strength of antibodies.
These days, there is a quote that runs through my head over and over. Forgive me if this is historical mansplaining, but just for context: in the early years of WW2, with the British government in turmoil over whether to fight the Nazis or submit to them in exchange for a guarantee of independent sovereignty, Churchill famously defeated a leading group of ministers who wanted to go and beg at Hitler’s feet. George Orwell – not a fan of Churchill at all – wrote of his gratitude that the country finally had a leader who wouldn’t just hide under a carpet and hope the Nazi’s would go away, but instead had a leader who understood that “wars are won by fighting.” If history has taught us that these things are cyclical and, sadly, may never be completely stamped out, it will nevertheless make the eventual victory against this kind of mainstream facism no less vital or essential. And I have no doubt, based on history – based on the ineptness of the individuals concerned – based on the sheer horror that seems to be felt by those even within the circle, that Good will win again. We can only hope that there isn’t too much damage done along the way.
I don’t think that was “mansplaining” at all, Jimmi, and I thank you for your comment. I was unaware of that exchange before you brought it to my attention. I think it’s important to remember that “wars are won by fighting” in whatever form that may take. Obviously a war fought in the 21st century will be dramatically different from ones fought in the 20th. But I recently saw a devastating quote from a Civil War historian who, when asked whether he thought a new American Civil War was possible given the events of recent history, responded (and I paraphrase), that it was very possible, and by no means can it be ruled out at this time.
Before the last few days, I saw it much more as a possibility than a probability. Now, I see lines being drawn, allegiances declared. I wonder if we have shifted into the realm of the probable. But I also see strength and resilience in surprising places in top American politics. A lot of Republican party leaders have condemned in strong language the actions of the Nazis and white supremacists. Many of them have even criticized the President for his lack of condemnation. I have hope that we will come together. But I fear that there are those in the streets who will protest – violently – any attempt to remove this fascist white supremacist from office.