When I went to High-School back in 1991 in Maryland, I attended a mostly African-American school. There were only very few „whites“ and most of them had been kicked out of every other school in the area before – usually for some kind of anti-social behavior. As they heard, some German kid arrived, they tried getting in touch with me – seemingly assuming, we’d become friends immediately. Easy to say, that didn’t go well for them as I decided „to tell who the wrong sort are for myself “. This was my first encounter with American Neo-Nazis but unfortunately not the last one and only my strong reaction made them to ignore me going forward – and maybe the fact the I made friends with a few football players who watched the whole scene…
Coming from Germany with a leftist background and having been active in antifascist groups, it always struck me, how open Nazis and other scum could act in the US. It seemed, as long as they were not point-blank racist – meaning insulting anyone right in front of a camera – they could do pretty much everything without ever to face consequences. „Freedom of speech“ was the magic term, that seemed to have been invented just for them.
There’ve always been examples of killings, beatings, abuse and insults against black people, Mexicans, gay people, Muslims – not only in the South. We’ve seen the signs long enough – rarely, there was an outcry at all outside of the affected community and never did it hold very long. Attacks like the Oklahoma bombing or similar actions from right-wing Extremists were considered as „some crazy individuals doing“ – completely ignoring the wide network of militia members and Nazis they were part of.
And I won’t even start listing all the examples of institutional racism that movements like “Black Lives Matter” try to call out since several years now. This is real, it’s not just some odd phenomena – it always has been and the fact, that they now have a direct line into the White House makes it just worse. These people have not become more since Trump was elected – he’s been elected in major part because they are there!
It seems though, the gathering in Charlottesville might turn out to be a strategic error of the “Alt-Right” and all the other scum around them. It’s a bit like the Death Eaters showing up too early and now they’ve been unmasked. The mainstream public can’t ignore them anymore now – that’s good. For once, the usual political activism picked up enough steam to create a serious reaction. It seems the mainstream is finally willing to have the tough conversation that’s been long overdue. Go for it, America!