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Charlottesville incident is scary and intimidating to talk about (4m read)

Caitlin Johnstone, August 17, 2017

 

I’ve been mostly sitting on my ideas about Charlottesville to let the dust settle and allow Americans some space to grieve and emote, but I think I can say my things now. Here are 23 thoughts:

  1. Fascism is bad, and vehicular murder is also bad. Don’t be a fascist. Don’t murder people with cars.
  2. #1 is so painfully obvious that I shouldn’t have to say it, but a significant enough percentage of readers will be furious if I don’t.
  3. The Charlottesville incident is scary and intimidating to talk about. There are a lot of people in left-leaning circles who have ideas about what happened and what could be done differently in the future, but they’re too scared of the social backlash to say anything. That’s a problem.
  4. America is a deeply racist country. The fact that some Americans are getting a bit more honest about their racism doesn’t make the country more racist, it makes it more honest. Maybe now white Americans will stop their idiotic gibberish about racism no longer being a real problem.
  5. People keep talking about those good ol’ glory days when America fought a war against Nazis, ignoring the fact that this happened while America was an apartheid state.
  6. White nationalists have stupid haircuts. They all look like they’re wearing a toupee that’s sliding off their head.
  7. White nationalists will never gain control of America. There is a zero percent chance of that happening. There are far too few of them and their ideas are inherently inferior to everyone else’s.
  8. The dialogue about Charlottesville made it clearer than ever that hardly anyone in America actually knows what white nationalism is. It’s worth googling. UPDATE 8/17/17 1430 PST: And the comments on this piece are showing that they still don’t. Seriously, google it; it means a very specific thing. See also ethnonationalism.
  9. If I was a white nationalist who wanted to gain sympathy for my cause, and I knew that all I needed to do to make that happen was get some Antifa guy to punch me on camera, I’d be stupid not to do it.
  10. I’m convinced that one of the reasons these alt-right demonstrations are consistently met with violent counter-protests is because there are people on the left who are genuinely worried that the alt-right would indeed hold a peaceful demonstration if left to their own devices, and they don’t know how they’d deal with that.
  11. The strategy of meeting fascist demonstrators with violence and intimidation emerged largely because, historically, violence and intimidation is a strategy fascists like to utilize. But the alt-right isn’t after violence and intimidation — they’re after memes. A viral GIF of a black-bloc counter-protester attacking them serves them far better than any amount of violence or intimidation ever could.
  12. Unlike conventional white supremacist groups, the alt-right are extremely comfortable with the victim role. 4Chan, where many alt-righters make their home, has a rich tradition of glorifying loserdom and being a “beta”. Getting one’s ass kicked on camera, even by a lefty vegan, is often perfectly fine with them. They win by losing. This is important to understand if you want to beat them.
  13. Only a fraction of the people who get labeled “alt-right” by leftists and centrists actually are part of the alt-right as they define themselves, i.e. white nationalists. Of those, a significant percentage are just depressive nihilists who are trolling and LARPing because provoking liberals lets them feel something; they don’t stand for anything at all. Of the ones who are actual white nationalists, a significant percentage want the freedom to say they want a white ethnostate a lot more than they actually want a white ethnostate.
  14. The rise of the alt-right was the inevitable result of free speech on the internet. Society’s newfound ability to network and share information meant a vastly more democratized economy of ideas, and some of those ideas were bound to be very, very bad and get a whole, whole lot of attention for that reason. Western society is a tapestry woven of white supremacy, and those demons were bound to get belched up once people became capable of networking and speaking freely. Their shitty ideas need to be met, processed, and responded to with straightforward intellectual honesty.
  15. The best way to beat a white nationalist is to ask him to sell his ideology to you in a public setting. Don’t argue with him, just ask him to describe in public what America would look like if they were in charge, how they would make that happen, and why it’s something that people should want. Ask lots of questions and really press him to explain his vision; make him describe his entire utopia. Who would have to leave? Where would they go? Who would get to stay? How would you make that happen? Would there be DNA tests? Has he taken a DNA test? What precisely is so great about a white ethnostate? What would happen to food, live music and entertainment? Once you drag their whole vision out into the light, there are very few people who would ever find such a vision appealing enough to try and manifest. It does not sell itself. There’s not much to say there beyond “Uhh… no thanks.”
  16. It’s hilarious that there are people who believe that (A) there is such thing as “white culture” in America, (B) that it is somehow in jeopardy, and (C) that it is worth saving.
  17. The official narrative has seamlessly shifted from “Impeach Trump because he’s a secret Kremlin agent” to “Impeach Trump because he’s a secret Nazi.” This is worth keeping track of.
  18. You’re allowed to consider conspiracy theories about what happened in Charlottesville. I’m not going to get into them here, but there are some weird things that happened and it’s okay to have questions about them. People who think there’s zero possibility that the State Department/intelligence community were involved in what happened are either ignorant of the way those agencies operate in America or are being willfully myopic. History has proven beyond a doubt that there is no evil that America’s unelected power establishment will not stoop to in order to advance an agenda. There’s no reason to trust these people, and you cannot be faulted if you don’t.
  19. When all media converges on a demonstration, I get suspicious. These same people consistently ignored Standing Rock for months. The fact that someone was killed has been used to retroactively justify the immense amount of media attention the Charlottesville demonstration was already receiving prior to the murder. This is bad thinking. Had nobody driven a car into a crowd, the amount of coverage Charlottesville received would have been looked back on as obscene. It was already obscene, and the fact that someone got killed afterward doesn’t change that.
  20. It’s absolutely ridiculous how little debate there is about slavery reparations in America. The nation’s racial wound keeps refusing to heal, and what has been tried has failed spectacularly. It’s time to try something drastic. Please start talking seriously about reparations.
  21. Part of the appeal of the alt-right is that it’s countercultural; their ideas are against the establishment’s official rules, so boys get to feel like they’re being naughty and sticking it to the man. The left needs a loud and aggressive counterculture that clearly separates itself from the rainbow-flag-on-a-Reaper-drone fauxgressivism of the mainstream liberals. The gray ponytailed intellectual elitists have led the left for far too long, and they suck at it. We need a new attitude.
  22. All of this is infinitely less pressing of an issue than the fact that America is a corporatist oligarchy whose ruling elites are killing our ecosystem and have pressed us into a new cold war with Russia. One person died in Charlottesville. The US war machine is slaughtering constantly. You feel this one more because it happened in your backyard, but people are dying everywhere, and if there’s a nuclear war we all will.
  23. I love you.

— — —

Caitlin Johnstone is a 100 percent reader-funded journalist so if you enjoyed this, please consider help out by sharing it around, liking on Facebook, following on Twitter, or throwing some money into Patreon.

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