While I am a very political person, I try not to put political information on this page as I want to keep it neutral. But, let us be real, politics is creating a problem in every society around the world. So I want to take a minute to talk about something that I see a lot in comments which bother me greatly. The right wants the left to condemn anti-fascist groups, and the left wants the right to condemn the alt-right groups. I want to show my perspective in that we have to condemn any form of violence if we want to have a civil society where even if you do not like someone, you still respect them.
My mother once told me about an encounter her mother had when she was a child. I am talking about almost a century ago. My grandmother said she was going to go to the outhouse. As she opened the door, she saw a group of KKK sitting on horses. They wore their White costumes that we know so well today, and they were carrying torches. The leader of the group said to her, “You best be getting on back inside, girl!” It scared my grandmother so bad as she swore to my mother that it was her father’s voice she heard.
Can you imagine knowing about a group who rode in the darkness while terrorizing minority groups? Can you imagine recognizing your father’s voice as their leader? For my grandmother, it was so frightening that she carried the fear in her heart until she had her own kids. Wanting to teach her kids about racism, this is the story she told. The story hit home with my mother, and she repeated the story to us as a way to teach us about racism. It is also a story I tell my kids. It might seem embarrassing to reveal such a secret to the world, but it was used as a lesson to us, so I don’t mind sharing. What I hold in my heart as a response to racism is that I can imagine the fear my grandmother had, so I could only imagine being a minority as their target. I need only think of my grandmother (whom I never knew as she died when I was a baby) as a voice of reason to me as to why I do not want to belong to either group. Both use fear and anger as their motivations even though they both want to package their ideologies differently.
That being said, terror comes in many shapes or sizes. Does terror make a difference based on who or what a person is doing it for? In my opinion, if you are using race, for whatever reason, as a way to identify and then target said group, you are a racist. One thing I have noticed is that at all the rallies, there are two distinct groups showing up around the protestors: the alt-right and the alt-left.
Who is the alt right? The alt-right is a group of people who believe in far right ideologies like racism or nationalism. They use race as a means to identify as well as denounce with. It is against minorities, immigration, and equality believing that the White man is superior to all. Some of these groups travel to every rally to protest the protestors which really seems redundant as that really brings recognition to the issues. You would think if you wanted to be anonymous, one would follow the old-school ways of operating with masks and under the cover of darkness. Many of them do operate in the dark much like the KKK in my grandmother’s day. But, now it is mainly on the dark web which isn’t as effective as the old ways. That means that every time we on the left show up to their rallies, we are giving them voices to push their agendas. But, are they the only ones causing chaos?
The Stigmas? People believe that most of the alt-right are poor, uneducated people, but they are anything but that. Many of the organizers come from wealthy families, and they get richer because they divide us. In the Art of War, it says the easiest way to win is to divide and conquer your enemies. That belief is still relevant today which is why politicians say outrageous things to make us angry. That is the danger in beliefs as they rarely hold much truth, yet has the greatest effect on society as a whole.
Who is the alt-left? Well, that depends on who you are asking. So I will give you my opinion which might be controversial. The alt-left is considered the anti-fascist and BLM movements by many on the right. While I am not sure about BLM being violent as a whole since their movement stemmed from unarmed killings by police, I have seen the same anti-fascist groups who went in Charlottesville also in Oregon and California (recent rallies). The New York Times writes, “For some so-called antifa-members, the goal is to physically confront white supremacists. ‘If they can get at them, to assault them and engage in street fighting,” Mr. Pitcavage said.” This is where the problem comes in that I find fault with. They go out looking for White men resembling Skin Heads to assault. How is this helpful? It stems from hate regardless of why they choose to do it. Why is it okay for one group to use race to attack yet it is wrong for the other? Hate is infectious no matter what branch of the tree it grows on! The attacks only serve to make the situation much worse than when it started.
The Stigmas? President Trump and his WH spokespeople try to make all protestors who went to Charlottesville members of the alt-left. But, that sounds just like the argument Trump made about who was at the Unite the Right rallies. Many people showed up to protest hate. However, those people were peaceful. The Alt-left and the Alt-right both showed up to fight because they have agendas they want to promote. Every word, every phrase, every rock, every stick used sent a message loud and clear to both sides. But, none of them were really listening as this was about self-preservation rather than a promotion of singular causes. Both sides had one agenda: Being the superior group at the rallies. Unfortunately, good people were hurt by one member of the alt-right group. There were no winners on Saturday.
We need to talk about the issues because fighting is not going to work. It never did. It should also be the last result after long attempts to solve our issues with compromise. As long as we act like two groups who are at war, it will continue to feel like a war is taking place in our society. I use my words, but I condemn others who turn to violence first (as we saw this weekend)! Stop defending either of these sides as neither is right in their thinking. Attacking others only serves the purpose to divide us further.
Martin Luther King Jr. accomplished greatness because he used his words effectively. He once said, “We may have all come on different ships, but we are in the same boat now” (Keep Inspiring Me). If we all stopped to think about what factors got us into the situations we are in as a society, we could find a multitude of racial and class factors affecting us. In the red states, they may very well feel left behind as economic factors control their job outlook, and they might blame immigrants for their job losses as immigrants tend to be more economically stable in blue states. They may blame Democrats. Really, their city and state representatives control the economic outlook in their states. We do not know anyone’s reality until they tell us. So why can we not listen to each other? Blue states blame red states for the social issues facing them. They use the belief that race is the greatest motivating factor for why the right treats minorities as they do. But, has anyone stopped to talk about the issues to see? How do we solve the issues if everyone is fighting back and forth? We are all on the same side, but politicians have divided us for years because that is how they win. I have learned from every political party as I do not mind listening even when I wholeheartedly disagree. We will overcome more with mending fences than throwing rocks over them at each other. For a fact, both the alt-right and alt-left throw rocks first which makes them more of the same than different.
So what are your thoughts? I would love to hear from you as well. Honesty is always welcome. What party do you belong? What is on your mind? Do you think mending fences is a better policy than using violence? What topics do you think we need to be addressing instead of using our time and energy on these groups? Maybe if we talk about economic and racial inequalities, both sides can understand and offer some encouragement to the issues. For a fact, we would be stronger together than apart!
Nothing good can grow from broken roots which are what we as a society has become!
King Jr., Martin Luther, MLK Jr Quotes. Keep Inspriring Me. (n.d.). www.keepinspiring.me/martin-luther-king-jr-quotes/. Accessed 16 Aug 2017.
The New York Times. Alt-Right, Alt-left, Antifa: A Glossary of Extremist Language. The New York Times Company. 2017 Aug 15. nytimes.com/2017/08/15/us/politics/alt-left-alt-right-glossary.html. Accessed 16 Aug 2017.