The lessons from Charlottesville and Berkeley are the same

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I’m going to re-use the photo above to illustrate what seems to be my theme of the moment: don’t be too quick to condemn another point of view, just because they have extremists. Take a good look around. There might be extremists standing next to you, too.

I have spent time, on a variety of blogs, this one and some others (listed next), advocating various points of view this past year or so, most of which come back to the fact that I believe that working white people in this country have felt abandoned in the past thirty years by the Democratic Party, and have found unhealthy expression for their frustrations, either with elements who really don’t give a toss about them (the Republican Party), or with entities who are throughly obnoxious (Trump) or dangerous (racists and white supremacists).

https://democratpopulist.wordpress.com/

https://geoffgilson.wordpress.com/

https://newworldtrumpsite.wordpress.com/

More often than not, I have engendered a response in my blogs, and on my FB Page, which amounts to: who cares; most white people are fascists anyway; look at all those Southerners waving the Confederate battle flag. This was particularly so after Charlottesville.

And then we had Berkeley. And suddenly every last anti-racist and his grandmother is complaining about their people of goodwill being tarred by association with hooded thugs.

Guess what? Welcome to the club. Every political point of view has extremists. It ain’t just Southern white people. I live in Seneca, SC. Before that, Carrboro, NC. Before that, Dallas, Texas. And before that, Clayton, Georgia. I know an awful lot of white working people. And they are not all racist, supremacist, flag-waving, statue-idolaters.

Many. Very many. Are good, decent, hard-working, generous folk, who will happily talk with you, listen to you, even if they do not agree. But these hundreds and thousands of good people are tarred by association with extremists. By the same people who now whine about being similarly tarred by association with black-hooded thugs..

So. If nothing else. Let’s allow Charlottesville and Berkeley to teach us all a lesson. Don’t be so quick to judge other people, when you may have just as nasty a thug standing next to you.

There are good people. And there are extremists. Good people, people of goodwill, can have different points of view. Not right or wrong. Just different. Pay attention to the points of view of the people of goodwill. Separate those views from the extremists. And then condemn the extremists standing next to them – and next to us.

It is only when all people of goodwill are genuinely prepared to listen to other people of goodwill, whether they agree with them or not, that we can even begin to heal the toxic divisions in this country.

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Unity Requires Addressing All Fears

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It doesn’t matter if we think the whites and Christians giving their opinion in this poll are nuts. If they believe what they believe.

If blacks believe what they believe. Hispanics. Asians. Gays. Transgenders. Anyone who is scared. If they believe what they believe. And we do not address those fears. Then, sooner or later, the beliefs will find expression in anger, hate and violence.

We need an extensive and intensive national debate. Which addresses all the issues. All the fears. If we are ever to heal this nation.

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Who’s Afraid of AntiFa?

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Not my headline. It’s that of a NYTimes op-ed from yesterday (Monday, August 28). One day after the reported violent demonstration by black-clad, black-hooded, anti-Nazi protesters in Berkeley. An op-ed which, to my surprise, is in contrast to much of the continuing mainstream media coverage of that violent outburst. As in, there is next to none. Hence my admittedly provocative borrowing of that NYTimes headline.

Let me begin by making one thing absolutely clear. In Charlottesville earlier this month, a young woman, who by all accounts was protesting peacefully against the AltRight, white supremacists and Nazi’s, that young woman was run down and killed by a young man, whom no-one has denied associated himself with the far right.

The flare-up in Berkeley this past Sunday, again according to mainstream media accounts at the time and shortly afterwards, resulted in at least five people being assaulted. No deaths were reported.

I do not for one moment draw any equivalence between a tragic death and five assaults. Certainly, I would not seek to do so merely for political reasons.

In the same vein, I sincerely hope that we are not witnessing an absence of continuing coverage about Berkeley solely due to the political stance of most of the mainstream media.

It would be an understatement to declare that most of the mainstream media are not natural supporters of the far right. Nor of Trump. Nor am I. But I would be genuinely concerned if that same media decided they had identified an opportunity to score points against Trump and the AltRight by playing up far right violence. While downplaying far left violence.

We saw similar media bias (Clinton over Trump) during the US Presidential election in 2016. I expressed concern at the time. Not because I wanted to protect Trump. Far from it. And quite the opposite. I was troubled because the consequence of the slant was to underplay the threat Trump represented. And it may have been one of the reasons why so many non-Trump supporters stayed home. They thought they were safe.

My worry now is that, if the mainstream media feel they have chanced upon an opportunity to damage Trump with his seeming one-sided support of the far right. And that, as a consequence, the mainstream media feel it is ok to ignore violence on the far left. The toxic result may be that the general populace are inadvertently lulled into a false sense of security about the threat from the far left.

None of this is to minimize the danger represented by the hateful polemic and threatened violence of the far right. One of the most frightening aspects of which is their newfound ability to organize effectively.

But, as the NYTimes article makes clear, the far right and the far left are currently feeding off each other. To condemn one, to the advantage of the other, by ignoring the other, for misplaced short-term political advantage, could have unforeseen and potentially devastating consequences.

(And, one more time, just so that all readers are absolutely clear. I condemn equally all hatred and violence. And I do not support the notion of ‘defensive’ violence,’ as it is applied generally to generic public protesting. I believe only in peaceful protest.

Our communities already have in place systems of law enforcement agreed to by those communities. Rules of engagement may not be perfect. But it is for communities to address these potential failings. Not for individuals to take matters into their own hands. Without the permission of the wider community.

I may appear to be focusing my attention on the hatred and violence of the far left. But that is because of what I perceive as the imbalance of media coverage. An imbalance which appears to be occurring this week with respect to Berkeley. It bothers me. It is dangerous. More to the point, I would prefer that we all concentrate on healing, not dividing.)

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Nazi Haters; AntiFa Hypocrites; Berkeley Attack; August 27, 2017

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One more time. I condemn all hatred and violence. I focus more on that of the far left than the far right, because the far right are obvious; the far left pretend.

I would prefer that we all focus on trying to resolve the issues leading to the hatred and the violence. But that is difficult when both sides prefer violence to discussion.

Yesterday (Sunday, August 27), it was the turn of the self-described ‘protectors of the peace,’ the far left AntiFa, to engage in horrific, offensive violence.

What part of this kind of violence can possibly be described as ‘defensive.’ What part of this kind of violence is protecting any community? In my opinion, the only thing worse than hatred is hypocrisy. When will we learn?

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Why don’t I condemn White Supremacists?

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I do. I condemn all hatred and violence. Whether it parades as defensive, or not.

But why do you seem to spend more time condemning AntiFa? Because the white supremacists aren’t hiding. They aren’t pretending. They are ugly. And hateful. And violent. No-one has to spend time defining them. They are there for all to see. And for all to condemn.

Now. Take a moment to wade through the literally hundred or so comments (to be found on my Facebook Page, linked to at the end of posts on this blog) taking me to task for condemning the hatred and violence on the far left. Observe all the twists and turns in which supporters of the far left engage in order to pretend they are nothing more than harmless Yarn Bombers.

That’s why you find me focusing on the far left more than the far right.

AntiFa and Nazi’s in USA are both violent

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For those of you who insist that it is only the far right in the US who are violent. Let me introduce you to one of the violent factions of the far left – Redneck Revolt.

I’m not making this up. This faction, and several others (‘Pink Pistols,’ ‘Black Gun Owners Association,’ and ‘John Brown Gun Club’), were themselves introduced to me in a separate discussion thread.

People. This is getting dangerously out of hand. And do not believe for one moment the tripe you hear about the need to protect communities.

Whether on the far right or the far left, these are all people who do not respect any community. If they did, they would seek the democratic approval of their communities to employ violence on behalf of those communities. They don’t. Period.

They are dangerous thugs. Whose only interest is the destruction of community. The tearing down of system and democratic order. So that they may be left alone to do what they wish. Without accountability to anyone. Period.

I have written previously about attempts to translate the current genuine grievance in our society into violent moves to rip apart community and democratic society.

I deplore all hate and violence. Violence within a society never achieved anything but destruction and more hate. The only protest that has ever resulted in meaningful and lasting change has been non-violent protest.

I set out below what I have already said in the other discussion thread about any and all violence of the anarchic right and left:

“Wow. And you truly think that all of this ‘meet hate with hate,’ ‘intolerance by another name’ is really going to bring justice to this country?

I maintain that we are where we are right now because no-one has actually done what was necessary to bring opposing sides together after the last US Civil War.

And now you want another one. Where your idea of nation-building after the event will be … what? Or does your plan truly begin and end with violence? Is it really your ambition only to tear down? To what end?”

And …

“We were having so much fun. And then you slip back into the slogan thing. “Bringing tea-sets to gun-fights.” Oh c’mon. You are not playing to the Antifa gallery here.

This is not about tea-sets. It’s not about gun-fights. Let’s get back to basics. I did this whole debate with the Black Bloc wannabe’s and Occupy Chapel Hill/Carrboro.

The system is broken, goes the cry. Non-violent protest is dead. We need to be violent. From people who do not want any system. Who will happily contribute, with words and actions, to the perception that the system is irredeemably broken. Just so they can advance their own agenda of nihilism. An agenda which must, by definition, eschew any attempt at reform of the system through the system. Because any acknowledgement that such reform might stand a chance has to recognize a system they want only to sweep away.

And on the subject of ‘lines,’ I see virtually no line between the above and what you have been advancing in this thread.

I too am concerned about the actions or inactions of the police. But reform is possible. We are nowhere close to needing the citizenry to take up arms against an overbearing government. To suggest otherwise is ridiculous. It smacks of someone just finding an excuse to rail against the system. Rather than trying to use the system to undertake meaningful reform. Demonstrate to me attempts you have taken to reform the system, attempts which have failed after much effort, and I might start buying the line about needing to take to the streets violently.

In the meantime. There is no gun-fight. There are people waving sticks. And one ugly monster driving a car. That is not a breakdown of society. Or violence uncontrolled. Protest peacefully. In numbers. Again, history shows that non-violent protest works. Violent protest merely turns people off the cause. And while we’re here, let’s not even try to equate (as you did earlier) interaction between protesters (and what should be our response: violent or non-violent), and what should be my response to a government wishing to commit genocide against a section of my society. We are nowhere close to the latter.

Neil, just admit it. You find yourself close to being in bed (at the very least) with people who do not believe in any system. Who have no vested interest in attempting reform, because to do so recognizes a system. And you just want to find a way to justify you and those bedfellows being allowed to hit a Nazi.

And, for the record, if I thought that dressing as a clown, and inviting Nazi’s to tea, would stop the hate, I’d do it. But, until someone persuades me of that possibility, you won’t find me bringing tea-sets anywhere. What you will find is me writing about the historical success of non-violence.”

We need to find a way to stop all hate and violence. Now. Before it is too late. And again. If you stand by and do nothing, it is as if you were throwing the first Molotov.

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A Math Teacher From Durham, NC …

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I do not know Terry McCann. He is a Math Teacher with Durham, NC Public Schools. I came across him on Facebook. But what he says I could not say better. Here’s an excerpt:

“So white America, when you pass by a black person in the parking lot, stop giving the look and clinching tight to your purse. So black America, when you pass a white person in a nice ride and in a nice gated community stop assuming it was just handed to him.”

Thank you Terry. Stop the hate. All of it. Start building. Stop destroying …

It Is Time For the Melting Pot To Start Melding

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Right now, we have mourning to engage in. Right now, we have some immediate feelings to vent. But, if Charlottesville and the aftermath have proven anything. It is that we are long overdue in the United States an honest discussion about racial tension. Leading to a program of effective resolution.

It must be clear to even the most blinkered of observers that we in the US have not even begun to heal the wounds of slavery, the Civil War, the Confederacy, Reconstruction, Jim Crow and Segregation, nor adequately to address all of the complex and intertwining emotions, first suppressed and now being released, and arising from the actions taken since the Fifties, the purpose of which was ostensibly to right wrongs.

Racial friction in the United States is not only about its black and white inhabitants. However. It would be an idiot who would pretend other than that the starting point for any much-needed and rational debate about race in this country has to be that state of relations between our white and black citizens.

If the antagonism between these two peoples was finally, adequately to be addressed, then it would help to make for everyone in the US the more temperate and welcoming ‘melting pot’ so graciously encouraged by the inscription on the Statue of Liberty, and so wishfully dreamed of by Martin Luther King, Jr.

In which regard, without attempting in this post to address the full spectrum of issues that exist between blacks and whites in the US, issues which contribute to the toxin so tragically on display to the world at the moment, I want to posit a couple of what I regard as essential prerequisites for any meaningful, thoughtful, national conversation on race.

The debate must be temperate. Those on all sides who have demonstrated hate and violence to date should be welcome. But only if they leave the hate and the violence at the door.

The conversation should take place everywhere, and involve everyone. In classrooms. In schools. In colleges. In legislative chambers. From the smallest municipal authority to the Senate itself. The discussion should be engendered by all leaders. Honestly. Inclusively. From our ghastly President. To religious leaders, of all persuasion. Across the political spectrum. Including any and all gatherings of the body civic.

As soon as anyone who has met the qualification of eschewing hate and violence is excluded, then the overall ambition of engaging, resolving and melding is dented. No-one should be excluded, just because someone else doesn’t like them. Even if it is a lot of someone else’s.

And every single issue raised by race in this country, going back to the first landing by Europeans on Native American soil, should be on the table. Every single issue. And yes. That probably includes our relations with Native Americans. Again. As soon as you exclude an issue, you dent the process.

I would offer one word of caution. Be aware that any course of action. Even if overwhelmingly agreed to consensually. That demands that one section of society going forward be treated differently to another section. That course of action could create an imbalance which might lead to future resentment. I’m not saying it should be off the table. I’m just warning where it might lead.

It is my considered opinion that we are where we are today precisely because of past perceived imbalances. The favoring of whites over blacks. Which many say continues to this day. Along with what many whites perceive, beginning possibly with Reconstruction, certainly gathering steam in the Fifties, as a deliberate program of favoring blacks, to some extent, with respect to whites.

I am not attempting to be tendentious. I am making a valid point. If any one of us participating in this great debate pretends that a feeling that is present does not actually exist. Disempowers that feeling. For any reason. Then we will achieve nothing. I advance the notion of this conversation in order to address grievances. Not to bury them.

If you want an example of how such a national discussion might evolve, take off an afternoon (!), and have a gander at my notes of the initial stages of the attempt in Carrboro, NC to make policing in that burgh more color-blind.

I hasten to add that the attempt failed precisely because there were too many folks, with too many clashing personal agendas, none of which the participants were prepared to let go, because they thought it would weaken their community profile.

In which vein, having said all of this, I am almost certain the conversation I am suggesting in this post will likely never occur. Not honestly. Because we are too selfish. Too short-sighted. With too many personal agendas. But I have at least raised the idea.

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