Last night, the man who coined the term ‘alt-right’ led a torch-wielding mob of fellow white supremacists in a protest against the pending removal of a statue of confederate general Robert E. Lee from a Charlottesville, Virginia public park.
Chanting white nationalist phrases such as “all white lives matter,” “Russia is our friend,” and “white heritage,” the crowd followed neo-Nazi Richard Spencer in a grand display of racist sentiment. Of particular note was “blood and soil,” an actual Nazi slogan.
“I’m here to take part in this great celebration of our heritage and to say ‘no’ to the city of Charlottesville,” Spencer told a local NBC affiliate. “You’re not going to tear down our statue and you’re not going to replace us.”
That odd bit at the end — “replace us” — speaks to the intense racial anxieties contained in the alt-right phrase “white genocide.” Spencer promotes racial separatism, demanding that America be cleansed of nonwhite ethnicities to create a white nation. He regards current demographic trends as the doom of the white race (or rather, the supremacy of whiteness) because they will no longer represent a political majority.
According to NBC, “scuffles” broke out between Spencer’s reactionaries and counter-demonstrators, but he was not punched in the face again. In fact, there were no arrests or reported injuries.
“This event involving torches at night in Lee Park was either profoundly ignorant or was designed to instill fear in our minority populations in a way that hearkens back to the days of the KKK,” said Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer, who opposed removing the statues.
[…] “The rally led by Richard Spencer and its accompanying ideology are a disgrace to the University of Virginia and the greater Charlottesville community, read a University of Virginia Student Council statement. “Staging a rally intended to intimidate minority members of our community is repugnant and a far cry from our values of equity and inclusion.”
A protester named Orry Von Dize dismissed the white supremacist label, saying: “We are simply just white people that love our heritage, our culture, our European identity.” Which is weird, because “European” is not a race, while the “heritage” being celebrated is, in fact, America’s bloodiest war.
Richard Spencer & alt-right showed their true colors last night in VA with the use of torches
Torches in America bring up strong emotions pic.twitter.com/PhSInXzMig
— Red T Raccoon (@RedTRaccoon) May 14, 2017
Contrary to the Lost Cause myth, the War of Southern Aggression was indeed fought over racial slavery, which all the southern states referred to as “property” when they seceded. Only after losing the conflict did any confederate even mention “state’s rights,” which would have been a laughable argument in 1860.
Confederate monuments became popular after the postwar Reconstruction period as symbols of restored white supremacy. Similarly, the confederate battle flag only emerged as a political symbol with the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and then southern resistance to racial integration of public schools — facts which have always undercut excuses that the flag represents “heritage, not hate.”
“Does human civilization actually need the black race?” Spencer has asked, and not as a joke, but as a totally serious question. “Is Black genocide right?” and: “What would be the best and easiest way to dispose of them?”
Maybe we should thank Richard Spencer for leading demonstrations against the removal of confederate and white supremacist monuments. In fact, we should probably encourage him to do this again every time another monument comes down.
His mere presence dispels all pretense that the “heritage” being represented is anything more than just plain, old-fashioned racial hatred. His slogans, and his creepy Nazi torchlight ceremonies, make the best possible case for these false idols to be dismantled without regret.
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