Using the excuse of the proposed removal of a statue of a civil war general, a large mob of far-right extremists assembled in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend. The purpose of the gathering was a show of force and a public demonstration of their extremism. The extremists attended with the intent to display boldly their hatred, bigotry and intolerance, and to show how violent they are willing to be.
On Friday evening they marched around carrying torches to intentionally create images that replicate historical footage of NAZI party torch-carrying parades in pre-WWII Germany. They yelled deliberate offensive slogans and beat opponents viciously in full view of cameras. It was an extended promotional stunt to explain what they are and what they do.
The following day they attempted to take possession of the park where the statue is located. There was more marching – carrying flags with swastikas on them and salutes aping the NAZI salute, more public displays of unrestricted violence and machine gun-toting self-styled paramilitaries hanging around the streets.
One of the yobs drove his vehicle at speed at protesters; he murdered one woman, Heather Heyer, and injured more than a dozen others.
Bold As Brass
Racist supremacism has always been a dominant feature of US politics and US society since the first boat arrived from Europe in the fifteenth century. The slave industry created huge wealth for many people whose descendants still benefit via legacy “ownership” of land and businesses. Racist discrimination, racist rhetoric and racist violence is normal and is ingrained in many bodies of authority and control including state governments and police forces.
Since November 2016 those who want to promote and to use racism have been re-emboldened to be confident to operate in full view and without restraint. Some state governors and senators are no longer secretive about direct links to far-right organisations – including the Ku Klux Klan, some police chiefs are no longer pretending (dishonestly) that they want to provide a service for everyone equally, and the flaccid boys want to be seen and seek fame. In the streets, on TV and online, the supremacist mobs want to be in full view, hurling their racism at the country and the world. They no longer see a necessity to wear their hoods.
This new confidence to operate publicly and without caveats is, obviously, a direct consequence of the stance of the president. Trump used racism, bigotry and prejudice to help him get elected, he filled the White House support staff with extreme proponents of and activists in supremacism – Bannon, Miller, Gorka, and he has always acted to favour the racists: He keeps trying to demand a Muslim ban, he has cancelled funding that was used to fight against supremacism – Anti-racist funding cuts, and he has been very careful to not condemn the murder of Heather Heyer.
By his stance, and sometimes via his silence, Trump is purposefully giving assistance to the extremists. They are part of his fan base, he owes favours to some of them, and he has no counter balance due to his own upbringing: Both his parents were members of the Ku Klux Klan.
How far will this renewed boldness extend? The answer is probably the same as the answer to how far will it be allowed to extend? The latter question’s answer depends on how ingrained within police and local/state government in the US is the ideology of supremacism. A disturbing fact is that Trump is routinely appointing federal courts judges who are enablers of far-right ideology.