Sneak preview of the forthcoming book I Am Worthier Than You: Racism in the United States and its Multidimensional Effects by Marcelle Bartolo-Abela:
(A section from Chapter 2):
2017 – Blood and Soil! Never Again!
The Charlottesville Rally
On August 12, 2017, a Unite the Right rally led by a White nationalist, Jason Kessler, took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, with the aim of protesting the town council’s suggested removal of the statue of Robert Edward Lee from Emancipation Park, after the council had been pressured for a long time to do so by non-White residents (Fausset & Feuer, 2017; Montgomery, 2017). Lee had been a general of the Confederate Army during the American Civil War and the Commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, with which he invaded the North and won various battles against the Union with tactical brilliance, until his defeat in 1863 at the Battle of Gettysburg and his surrender two years later to Ulysses S. Grant (A&E History Network, 2017). Lee has been portrayed as a legendary figure in American history and is revered by the American South as a heroic symbol of their ‘Lost Cause,’ a revisionist narrative of the Civil War (Contreras, 2017). Historic documents have, in fact, shown that Lee was a known racist and “cruel figure with his slaves [who] encouraged his overseers to severely beat slaves captured after trying to escape” (ibid.). Given the above context, the Unite the Right rally soon escalated and turned violent, leading the Governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, to declare it unlawful at the request of the Virginia State Police (BBC, 2017; Ford, 2017; Katz, 2017). He also proclaimed a state of emergency.
Unite the Right clashed repeatedly in downtown Charlottesville with a broader-spectrum group of anti-racism counterprotesters who descended into the streets to challenge the former’s ideology. Unite the Right consisted of groups of hundreds of White nationalists and White supremacists, neo-Confederates and neo-Nazis, ‘patriot’ militias and supporters wearing paramilitary protective gear and armed with guns, semi-automatic weapons, clubs, rods, three-foot wide wooden shields, and pepper spray among several other items. They sported Make America Great Again (MAGA) hats, Confederate flags and swastikas, and carried both Trump/Pence signs and various banners with anti-Muslim or anti-Semitic screeds. ‘Hitler salutes’ were reported to be frequent (Lithwick, 2017). Among the identifiable Unite the Right groups were Identity Evropa, the League of the South, the National Socialist Movement, Proud Boys, the Traditional Workers’ Party, the Three Percenters, and Vanguard America (Cicero, 2017; Montgomery, 2017). Continue reading “SNEAK PREVIEW: ‘I Am Worthier Than You’”