Charlottesville, American Fascism, & White Supremacy

While I generally try to avoid political or real world cultural issues posts here, the events of last weekend in Charlottesville, VA deserve, I think, some commentary. I waited on writing this, and posting it, to fully gather my thoughts and response to the situation. Even so, this may ramble a bit, my apologies in advance. First, despite a certain “world leader’s” claim, there were no “many sides” and the situation was clear cut. The situation is always clear cut when neo-Nazis and white supremacists are involved and there are always only two sides: neo-Nazis/Supremacists & everyone else. There really is no middle ground here. I’m the first to argue against oversimplifying and dichotomies, but, in this case, there are only the two and it really is that simple. Claims of equivalency between the neo-Nazis/Supremacists and the antifa/BLM movement are false; the former use violence against people simply because of their skin color or for being Jewish in order to kill or intimidate, the latter use violence less often, but do so to protect people of all races & creeds from being beaten or killed. Regardless, the default state should always be Nazis = bad, no “buts”, no “what abouts”, no excuses. Nazis always = bad.

A little semi-digression.

My paternal grandfather was the child of Polish immigrants. He was an irreverent Catholic. He was not, to my knowledge, especially political. He was known to occasionally indulge in what can euphemistically be called “ethnic humor”. I never heard him raise his voice in anger (it probably happened, but I don’t ever recall it). He was also an NCO in the U.S. Army MPs during the occupation of Germany after WWII. In this role, he sometimes escorted Nazi officers, particularly SS officers, to their trials. Occasionally, in the process, he shot at, or ordered others to shoot at, Nazis. Keep in mind, the second largest ethnic population sent to the concentration camps was the Poles, possibly some of his relatives. I can only imagine what he’d think of the events in Charlottesville and those on the American Right who stood up for Neo-Nazis.

(To Head off Objections: No, people who fought in the Korean War did not fight communists or Marxists. They fought fascist oligarchs. The same holds for the entire Cold War. Cuba? Military dictatorship. Yes, they called themselves communists, but they weren’t any more than I’m a Catholic, no matter what I may choose to call myself.)

Back to the main point.

The central element of white supremacy, and really the neo-Nazis, is this idea that they are somehow “defending White Culture”. However, “White Culture” (or “White European Culture”) is a myth. There is no such thing. There are many white, European cultures, not a single unified one. A culture involves traditions and tangibles, ex. food & attire. “White Culture” lacks both. Rather, there is Irish culture, German culture, Romanian culture, Canadian culture, etc. The argument that says, “If White Culture is racist, then so is Black Culture” is another false equivalency. In the U.S., if you ask a white person (or Asian or Latinx) what country (or countries) their family originated in, they can probably tell you. Ask the same question of a black individual and the majority are unable to say, because it’s impossible to tell unless their families immigrated in the 20th century or later. Thus, “Black Culture” or “African-American Culture” is not equivalent to “White Culture”, it is equivalent to saying Irish culture or Vietnamese culture or Puerto Rican culture.

That brings to mind another thing I keep hearing: “Let’s get rid of the prefixes, we’re all Americans.” I have two problems with this. First, no one ever says this when a white guy identifies as Irish-American or German-American. The prefixes only seem to be a problem for certain people when they’re used by someone who is black (African-American) or brown (Mexican-American, etc.). Second, those prefixes are an important part of our American culture, a reminder that we are a hybrid culture, a multicultural society, Frankensteinian if you will. In the States, it’s difficult to find anyone, except a recent immigrant, whose lineage is entirely from one country. Virtually all of us are mixed something, e.g. multicultural. For example, I’m a mix of Polish (paternal) and Anglo-Scots-Irish (maternal). This also goes to cultural festivals. There are those who complain about “black pride” festivals or black history month, of course they say nothing about the country’s numerous Irish cultural festivals, celebration of Oktoberfest, etc.

On the whole, the States are an experiment on a number of levels. We’re not the first multicultural society in existence—Rome, China, India, Russia, and others beat us there—nor are we the oldest multicultural society is existence—again, see China, India, Russia. To think otherwise is sheer ignorance. But, we’re, most of us, trying very hard to make it successful despite elements of our society that wish to sabotage society.

Social Equality: Fact & Fiction

I try not to get too political here, but something’s been driving me nuts lately. Even so, I’ll try to tie it back to writing and fiction.

Let’s get something straight: feminists, atheists, LGBTs, and non-Whites in Western society do not want “special treatment” or believe they are “better” than men, Christians, straight & cis folks, and Whites. None of these movements—feminist, (racial) civil rights, LGBT rights, (religious) civil rights—are bad things. None of them are trying to destroy freedom or equality. In fact, they are all fighting for freedom and equality.

Here’s the thing:

Western society clearly tells us that straight, white, cis, Christian males (SWCCM) are better than others.

This can be seen in our courts, in our boardrooms, in our legislatures, on our streets. We see examples every day, from racial profiling to catcalls directed at women. But, most SWCCM are blind to this, because they aren’t the ones being derided.

The LGBT Rights movement is not saying that LGBT individuals are better than straight, cis individuals. Nor that they want to be treated better than those individuals. Rather, the LGBT Rights movement says they want LGBT individuals to be treated the same as straight, cis individuals both socially and legally. Right now, they aren’t—see marriage laws with attendant tax benefits and visitation rights (hospitals).

Non-Whites are not saying they’re better or want to be treated better than Whites. They’re saying they want to be treated the same as Whites, both socially and legally. That means an end to racial profiling for one thing—ex. that Hispanic guy stopped in Arizona and asked for his papers, his family’s been living on that land for 300 years (since before Arizona or the U.S. even existed), but he was stopped because he “doesn’t look American”, oddly the same sheriffs aren’t stopping White people to check their papers.

Likewise, atheists and non-Christians aren’t saying they want to be treated better than Christians. They are saying that they want to be treated the same as Christians, socially and legally. Right now, for instance, Christians make up 80% of Congress, less than 5% are non-Judeo-Christians and there are no non-theists in the legislature. Courts (the legal representatives of the State) make witnesses, jurors, and others swear an oath on a religious text (the default being a Bible). Elected officials are sworn into office on a religious text, typically a Bible. In both of the latter cases, the Constitution (or state constitution or city/town charter) ought to be used to demonstrate that the official is a citizen first and theist (generally Christian) second. (Typically, left wing Christians seem to remember this better than right wing Christians do.)

Feminists are not saying that women are better than men or that women should be treated better than men. They’re saying that women should be treated the same as men, socially and legally. Today, if a man goes out a buys contraception (to use a hot topic right now), he can do it over the counter and he’s congratulated by other men. If a woman tries to buy contraception, she needs a prescription and she’s often subjected to being called “baby killer”, “slut”, and/or “whore”. Tell me how this is equal.

The same really applies to the poor to middle class folks as well. Those of us speaking about income inequality are not saying that the poor are better than the rich (though for conserva-Christians out there, Christ says the poor are better, something about a camel and the eye of a needle). However, when the average CEO is paid (not earns) 394 to 415 times what the average employee in the same company earns, something’s very wrong, especially when that average employee is paid so little that (s)he needs to apply for food stamps and other assistance.

Racial, religious, orientation, poverty, or whatnot inequality in society and law are great, in fiction. They create tension, drama, and plot possibilities. In reality, they are decidedly not good because real lives are, sometimes quite literally (lynching, anyone?), on the line.

(Note: Yes, there are exceptions to the above statements. Every movement has its fringe. Case in point, not all Christians are awful people, but people on the Christian fringe, such as Pat Robertson, are.)