Mark Twain on Charlottesville
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woohooligan Aug 22, 2017
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Tiffany and I lived in Charlottesville in 2005. It's a nice town with good people, despite being a bit more conservative and stand-offish than I prefer. Like many of you, (hopefully all of you), last week's Nazi rally and terrorist attack horrified me. At first, it reminded me of a brief conversation I had with someone on Facebook(?) last year in which he claimed America was on the verge of a race war. This was during the height of the 2016 election cycle and the perplexing Trump campaign, and he cited as evidence for the race war a lot of racist language and Confederate battle-flag emblazoned pickup trucks. I argued that it's pretty easy to mouth off online, it's pretty easy to buy a Confederate flag. Heck, it was pretty easy to mouth off in person if you were a racist at one of Trump's rallies, and in most places in the US it's pretty easy to buy a gun. But it takes a lot more conviction (or crazy) to murder your neighbors or to organize your local militia group for that purpose.

We've certainly seen examples of that, like Dylann Roof who stated race war as his motivatoin after killing nine people at the Emanuel church in Charleston, South Carolina. I was sure that people like Roof were anomolies, and you couldn't predict larger social events like a civil war on the basis of one or two crazy mass-murderers.

But Charlottesville was different, because here we saw a big mass of Nazis and racists marching and chanting. They were organized, and they were scary! And then the President defended Nazis, and for a brief moment, I thought maybe I was wrong. For a moment I thought maybe we were heading for another civil war. But only for a moment. Since then, the President has made things better? Worse? In his characteristic shoot-from-the-hip style, the president led by example and looked directly at the solar eclipse without protective glasses. Now isn't that a metaphor for our country right now?

It's kind of true, what the racists and Nazis are doing these days is kind of like staring directly at the eclipse and cooking their own eyeballs. They've known for years that their racist bullshit isn't acceptable. They've known, and they've been warned over and over. They should have known better when punching Richard Spencer went viral, but they didn't learn a damn thing from that. So they start staging rallies. They get one rally in, they start roughing up the clergy (in full garb), who were peacfully trying to obstruct their rally, and then one of them plows into a crowd. Only after one of these Nazis killed a couple people do any of them start to realize that staring directly into the sun is a bad idea. It starts with counter-protests dwarfing their nazi rallies, which they should have expected when the women's march dwarfed the Trump inauguration, (assuming that decades of Nazis being the villains in our movies wasn't enough).

Nazi website, the Daily Stormer published blogs during and after the rally in Charlottesville, in particular declaring war on the rest of the country. This of course resulted in digital Nazi whack-a-mole, with GoDaddy, Google, and possibly Dreamhost cancelling their service, and Anonymous launching distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks at them.

Then people start recognizing employees in the crowd of Nazis and firing them. Then they get doxxed and harassed (don't do this, by the way, we can put plenty of pressure on them without doing awful things like this). But don't believe for a moment the photo of the antifa member hiting a cop with a wrench or the flyers calling for the murder of white children, those are Nazi smokescreens. To be honest, the flyer is so badly written it's comical! Yes, I'm certain antifa members who oppose Nazis are really using "heeb masters" (a slur against Jews) in their literature. :P

And then we see the Nazis themselves popping up on the news, whining about people thinking bad of them. What did you think would happen? We'd throw you a party for having the courage to be a Nazi? And then Virginia authorities issue arrest warrants for Chris Cantwell, the Nazi who bragged on TV news about making himself "ready for violence", and he shows up on YouTube, crying like a baby. Perhaps instead of making himself ready for violence, he should have been buying diapers to make himself ready for involuntary urination.

Yes, I know there are more of those Nazis out there, and they're not all drowning in a river of tears right now... but that doesn't mean there are enough of them who are convicted enough to start another civil war. Are they dangerous? Yes. There was a terrorist attack in Charlottesville, when one of them plowed a car into a crowd. But we're Americans, we can deal with that. There's an old saying that, "the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing." And although historically a lot of good people did stay silent about slavery or the holocaust of WWII, that's certainly not true anymore. Today good people like you and I aren't staying silent, we're getting up and we're speaking out! We're pointing out all the bullshit in alt-right Nazi arguments about Confederate statues and the mythical "alt-left".

I fully support the Nazis' freedom of speech. I've mentioned that before. We should let them speak and show themselves to be the lousy shitheels they are and then point out the bullshit in their "arguments". There are so many of us that the moment one of them declares some bullshit like "history" as an excuse for keeping Confederate statues, there are three of us to call bullshit on it. That's how we put them down. We're like a fact-check-hydra. :P

My friend Kelci Crawford also posted this great blog about things you can do after Charlottesville, such as donating for the medical care of Charlottesville's counter protesters, donating to non-profits pushing back against racism, calling your elected officials and signing petitions to remove those Confederate statues.

While I'm here, doing my civic duty, here's some more truth about those Confederate statues. If they were merely "history", they would have shown up just after the civil war... but as it turns out, Robert E. Lee himself opposed monuments to the Confederacy. According to Lee, the country needed to heal, and monuments would only pour salt in the wounds. We built the majority of Confederate statues during the Jim Crow era, from 1900-1920, many of them specifically in front of court houses (and another small spike during the Civil Rights era). To think that a statue of Lee in front of a southern courthouse during Jim Crow was anything other than intimidation is simply absurd. I can just imagine the racist justification, "there's nothing more comforting to black people than to know that their black water fountains are being overlooked by a fine white gentleman like General Lee!"

This also speaks to another bit of bullshit we've been hearing a lot lately: that the civil war was about a lot more than slavery. Aside from the fact that anyone can easily look up the Confederacy's articles of secession and see that slavery is declared very specifically as their reason for trying to leave the Union, what the hell do they think the Confederacy seceeded over? "Them damn yankees put too much powder in their wigs! This means war!" Yes, I know people say "state's rights", but that's a smokescreen, you need a specific right that the Confederate states were worried about, and that was slavery.

And one last bit of bullshit (and believe me, I know, digging through bullshit mountain can be exhausting), these Nazis are Republicans, not Democrats. Faux intellectual, Dinesh D'Souza recently published a book in which he claims that liberals created Germany's Nazis from WWII, and therefore, modern Democrats are to blame for all of this Nazi business. This entire thesis is predicated on his readers being completely ignorant of the twentieth-century reversal in which our two-party system flipped. Today's Democrats were the Republicans of 1890 and vice versa. Some time around the Civil Rights Act, the KKK and most white southerners switched to the Republican party because they were unhappy with what they saw as a lack of pressure from the Democratic Party leadership against the Civil Rights movement. Of course faced with an in-rush of Klan members, many Republicans left the party. Having only one other viable party available, they became Democrats. So while D'Souza may be right that Germany's Nazis took some cues from 1920's southern Democrats, those are the ancestors of today's Republicans.

Aside from that bit of willful ignorance, does anyone seriously believe that the Nazis marching in Charlottesville were liberal Democrats? "We believe in robust social security, education and health care for all, except Jews! Fuck those a-holes!" Sing along: One of these things is not like the other! I don't think D'Souza is a Nazi (he's an immigrant Indian after all), I think he's just trying to sell books, and it's honestly kind of hilarious that he's decided the best way to do that is to bring third-grade arguments to the political arena... Maybe he's hoping to be a speech-writer for Trump: "Some have called me juvenile. To them I say, I know you are, but what am I?"

So keep up the good work, pushing back against these alt-right Nazis, and let them repeat the mistakes of their past, staring into the sun... just like Raiders of the Lost Ark. :P

Now after you've donated to some non-profits and the medical bills for the Charlottesville counter-protesters, and if you've found this not just funny but also uplifting and informative (that's my goal), you can help us. I promise to always make this laughter for a better world, and it only costs you three cents a day, to be an important part of our laughtivism. And don't think for a minute that your dollar-a-month pledge isn't enough, it's absolutely vital! :D

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TryingToSee Jan 29, 2018
A different compromise - I think Daryl Davis's argument seems okay: Don't just trash the things, stick them an a museum while also including proper context. My main concern is that society may be running away from being confronted by its own ugly side and past. And when you repress your shadow side, it actually grows and can eventually consume you from within...
woohooligan I'm not opposed to keeping some of them in a museum somewhere. I don't think we need hundreds of them.

Having said that, I can't possibly disagree more with the idea that removing the statues is going to repress a cultural zeitgeist of racism and cause it to fester under the skin of the entire society, causing a worse kind of collective emotional disorder.

There are certain things that a person probably shouldn't try too hard to repress. Their sexual orientation is a good example of this -- loads of evidence that gay-conversion therapy is harmful.

The desire to enslave, repress or deport other ethnicities because you hate them isn't one of those things. We know that's the case because we have examples of places where these sorts of statues aren't allowed, like Germany, and see that the wider German culture isn't suffering from a fractious internal turmoil because of their laws prohibiting hate-speech. (And we didn't have these statues after the Civil War. They weren't erected until the end of Jim Crow or a smaller number during the Civil Rights Movement.)

Columbus commit genocide and had no statues here (and wasn't mentioned in our history books) until very recently, and there's never been any massive psychic fracturing driving people crazy in America because he didn't have more statues.

Are there racists in Germany? Yes, absolutely! There are racists in every country, and there's room to argue there always will be. However, the difference between Germany today and Germany in 1943 isn't one of simply hiding racism away in the closet until it becomes some monster from the id like Forbidden Planet and destroys their country wholesale. They're simply in a natural cultural ebb where racism has fallen out of fashion, and at some point (if not now) it will swing back the other direction again.

The same thing is happening right now here in the US. We pushed the KKK back into the fringes over a long time, by making their arguments unpopular. Today there's a slight ebb back in the other direction, and crime statistics show that as Richard Spencer and other "white ethno-nationalists" have been gaining popularity, and especially since Trump took office, hate crimes against non-white people have risen. It's going to take effort from the rest of us to push this ebb of racist sentiment back into the fringe where it belongs.

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