Look. Trump is a dangerous and ugly pariah. But. And it’s a big ‘but.’ By the stages.
If you are concerned that vitriol from the right will unbalance much of what has been achieved in the past 30 years, to create a more just US society. How do you protest without finding yourself standing next to people from, say, Antifa, who are holding shields and batons, and screaming insults?
Equally, if you are someone, who, in all good faith, is concerned that what many see as the achievements of the past 30 years, you see as one or two steps too far. How do you express that in protest. Even silent protest. Without finding yourself standing next to people from the Traditionalist Workers Party, who are holding shields and batons, and screaming insults?
If you are not Trump, but an ordinary concerned citizen, witnessing all of this, how do you find a way to express horror at violence, horror at killing, condemnation of the killer, and condemnation of the culture giving rise to the killing, while at the same time recognizing that there is hate and latent violence on all sides, and that merely comparing one to the other, scoring points for intensity, does not actually do anything to improve the situation? How do you find, let alone express, balance, without being seen as a ‘normalizer’ of one form of hate or the other?
I do not condone hate. Or violence. Or mindless -isms. I understand the desire to protest. I recognize the right to do so. I understand the desire to vent. Provided it is done without hate or violence. And I want all of this to be precursor to actually sitting down and finding resolution. However long it takes. But I find myself troubled finding a way to express this balance (or what I see as balance), when all around me pretend their own righteousness is some form of ‘balance’ of their own. Only because they feel able to say that their intensity is to make up for years of imbalance.
There is no moral equivalency between someone who is deliberately killed while protesting and someone who is hit by a baton while protesting. Period.
But there is moral falsity in claiming that the consequence of a deliberate act of violence defines the moral status of the politics behind the violence. Claiming that one form of hateful and destructive polemic is less toxic than another simply because, on this occasion, the violence it deliberately engenders did not lead to a death.
I utterly condemn the polemic, the deliberate violence and the underlying culture that led to the death of Heather Heyer last Saturday (August 12, 2017). Our focus right now, including the attention of the President, should be on her tragedy. Period.
But, I learned first-hand, over the past few years, of the poisonous, duplicitous and ugly polemic that lies behind those who wear black hoods on the far-left of the political spectrum in the United States, also.
I experienced first-hand the work of those associating with the likes of the Black Bloc, as, in 2012, they destroyed the work of Occupy in Chapel Hill, NC.
I saw their hand in the riots following Ferguson. While many such as me were attempting to advance real solutions, like my notion of Citizen Design of Policing. The black-clad thugs were advancing their own agenda of tearing society down.
When we talk of revisionist history, the history being revised that I find most disturbing is the erasing from our memories of the incredible harm done to our nation this past decade by those on the far-left engaging in destructive violence, the sole purpose of which has been, not to advance any positive agenda, but simply to tear down our society.
And worse than that revision is the collusion by too many politicians and mainstream media outlets in that collective amnesia solely because of their revulsion for Trump. A revulsion I share. While deploring the collusion, the revision and the hypocrisy.
Right now, all people of good faith should be mourning Heather. And trying to find ways to unite. To reach out. To share. To find common ground. To heal.
I, for one, would rather limit myself only to that. But, I fear that, if I did, I would be following the path of a coward. For every day, I hear from politicians and the mainstream media, not calls for unity. But calls for division. And not just from Trump.
How can support for those who would tear down rather than build be presented by any sensible leader as inclusiveness and healing? How can calls for demonizing hate on one side only be presented as uniting?
And let’s be clear, even if you only talk about hate in the South and on the far-right, but you stand by as the black hoods on the far-left commit violence of their own against the South and the far-right, then you condone that violence of the far-left, every bit as much as Trump’s silence condones the black hoods on the far-right.
Again, I would prefer to be occupied in silent memory of Heather. But how can I be silent when I see a maelstrom of hate directed at only one group of hate-mongers? How can I be silent when I witness the collective social amnesia of people about all the far-left hate that has found expression in violence over the last few years? And why should I be silent just because our President is an anathema. And those who are less than discerning might represent my call for balance as support for him?
I am genuinely fearful that the singular direction of blame and reproach on offer in the body politic at the moment, both from Trump and those who oppose him, will only further increase polarization, and will do nothing to bring about the healing and unification this country so desperately needs. Playing to the gallery is great for Facebook. It does not work to advance national reconciliation.
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