Three people are dead and at least 34 injured after “Unite the Right” brought frenetic scenes and deadly violence to Charlottesville, Virginia. An estimated 500 white supremacists joined the rally, which supposedly was organized to protest the removal of Confederate monuments across Southern states. The rhetoric employed by the organizers clearly indicates that the gathering had other ambitions as well.
“It’s about white genocide. It’s about the replacement of our people, culturally and ethnically,” Jason Kessler told his followers on Periscope before the rally. Speaking at Unite the Right, David Duke stated: “We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to ‘take our country back,’ and that’s what we gotta do.”
At the rally itself, racist chants and “sieg heils” abounded. By most reports, the most popular incantation was “blood and soil” (from the German “blut und boden”). Originating in late 19th century Germany as an evocation of ultranationalist sentiment, it became incorporated into Nazi propaganda, where it was utilized to glorify “pure” German countryfolk who had a unique kinship with the land.
At the Friday evening tiki torch-bearing congregation at the Lee monument, the theme was the Richard Spencer shibboleth “we will not be replaced.”
No, the poison is not very hard to put together. Unite the Right was the official pitch of American fascists of all shades to become part of mainstream politics. It was the affirmation of the American far-right that they are no longer willing to be small fry content with furtive cross burnings and Nazi salutes. They want to be recognized as a national movement. They want political legitimacy.
Neither is it any coincidence that this moment has come during the presidency of Donald Trump. Even though they gained momentum by riding the tide of racist backlash during the tenure of America’s first black President, it was not until Trump entered the White House that they dared to stake their claim. Not only was Donald Trump’s campaign rife with thinly veiled white nationalist rhetoric, his cabinet contains at least two men who belong firmly in the far right. Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka are two of the primary architects of the “alt-right” narrative since their days together at the Breitbart News Network.
It is not just that white supremacists see in the Trump administration’s xenophobia and ultranationalism a coded affirmation of their fascist dreams. The fact is that Breitbart, Trump and many Republicans have themselves inspired new white supremacy among Americans. Their demonization of minorities, their denial of systemic racism and their blaming of immigrants and liberals for the misery of the working class amount to nothing less than soft-core white supremacy.
Today is a moment of reckoning for America. Fascism has reared its vile head, and prejudices that many had thought were either extinct or dormant are being shouted with pride and gusto. Right-wing militancy and violence continue to be on the rise. There is an administration in charge that shows zero motivation to frankly condemn or sever itself cleanly from white supremacy. Either because that would interfere with its raison d’être of liberal-hating or perhaps because it contains sympathizers with this ideology.
Most poignantly, though, this is a moment of reckoning for that cohort of liberals who choose to sit on the moral fence, looking down their noses at both left and right. That navel-gazing legion that prides itself for defending the free speech rights of neo-Nazis and equates the “regressive left” with the “alt-right.” That hypocritical, cowardly, egocentric nonsense will no longer stand.
Enough of the tripe about the left being more antisemitic than the right, of the sniveling, intellectually dishonest refrains of the left’s “soft bigotry of low expectations.” It is high time that it was clearly and loudly pointed out that there is no longer any daylight between the rhetoric of the “alt-right” and left-hating liberals. From “regressive left” to “hard left” and from “SJW to “PC police,” this confusion of tongues with the “alt-right” is a testament to the neurosis of freeze peach liberals.
The fact is, economic ideology and the scandalous Democratic primaries have already created much distance between centrist liberals and the left. The fact is that whether it is fighting immigration bans, police brutality or fascism, the left has shown it is able and willing. It is fence-sitting liberals that must prove their moral integrity and distinguish themselves from the right.