White Supremist Charlottesville Marchers Are ‘Indefensible’
There were no “very fine people” among the mob of torch-bearing marchers in Charlottesville on Friday night, Aug. 11. Not one. “Very fine people” do not shout out “The Jews will not replace us.” “Very fine people” to not chant the Nazi slogan “blood and soil.” “Very fine people” do not march shoulder-to-shoulder with those shouting out those phrases, because very fine people want nothing to do with Nazism.
The march by the new Nazis was the continuation of the identity politics practiced by racists, and condoned by their apologists, from the beginning of the republic to today. Extreme identity politics justified slavery. Black people were deemed inferior and in need of the direction and discipline supplied by the white slave masters. As Robert E. Lee put it in a letter to his wife in 1856, slavery was justified because for the slaves, the “painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction.”
The identity politics which supported slavery continued after the Civil War and after the abolition of slavery by means of legally enforced segregation for 90 years more. Even after segregation was ruled contrary to the Constitution, identity politics by racists against blacks continued.
Nine years after that court ruling, Alabama Gov. George Wallace declared in his inaugural address: “Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”
Blacks were not the only targets of the identity politics of racists and their apologists. Identity politics was practiced against Native Americans. Identity politics justified breaking treaties with Native American tribes. Identity politics resulted in the Trail of Tears. Identity politics was not restricted to oppression of non-caucasians. Identity politics was employed against Catholics because of their version of Christianity. In 1844, mobs burned Catholic churches in Philadelphia and hunted down worshipers. Mark Twain said he had been “educated to enmity toward everything that is Catholic.” The KKK opposed everything Catholic. In 1960, John F. Kennedy faced opposition because he was not a protestant.
Identity politics was lawfully practiced against Jews until the civil rights acts of the 1960s made that illegal. Anti-Semitism was made to sound respectable by designating various organizations as “restricted.” The Charlottesville march shows that this virulent form of identity politics, like racism, is alive and well. Identity politics was the driving force behind the alien and sedition acts of 1798, the Chinese exclusion act of 1882, and the internment of American citizens of Japanese descent during World War II.
Having used identity politics to maintain their status for over two centuries, racists and their apologists now condemn others who stand up for themselves. There is, however, a fundamental difference between the identity politics of racists and that of groups like Black Lives Matters. Black Lives Matter does not insist that only the lives of black people count. Racists and their apologists continue their two centuries old insistence that their lives and rights matter more than those of others.
Remember, the other phrase the Charlottesville marchers chanted was: “You will not replace us.” The Joint Chiefs have it right. As General Lengyel said: “Our diversity is our strength.” The identity politics exemplified by the Friday night Charlottesville marchers is indefensible. The apologists for those people should be ashamed of themselves.
Garry G. Geffert