To combat the terrorism in Charlottesville, we at least need to be honest. While it is great that most people are outraged, I am disturbed by the lack of institutional memory and discourse on American exceptionalism. For example, Elizabeth Warren said: “someone was murdered at a Neo-Nazi rally today. That happened. In America. In 2017. It is time to make clear where we stand – all of us.”
1). It is not shocking that a nation founded on slavery and genocide is hosting white nationalist rallies. The only people who are surprised are those who falsely believe there was a magical or radical event that transformed the American system.
2). I have seen a lot of messages and memes suggesting that Nazi ideology is incompatible with American principles. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are more synonymous than we like to admit. The Nazis were directly influenced by the United States. In Mein Kampf, Hitler praised America as “the one state” making progress toward racial purity. Years later, when the Nazis were crafting the Nuremberg laws, American jurisprudence (i.e. laws about segregation, immigration, second-class citizenship, etc.) became their inspiration. This is why the president of the Nazi People’s Court declared that the American example “would suit us perfectly.” When Nazi defendants were put on trial, they referenced Buck vs Bell – a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld forced sterilization – as a justification for their actions.
3). Here is a fun fact: Prescott Bush – the father and grandfather of Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush – was a director at the bank that financed Hitler. Nonetheless, he was elected to the Senate 7 years after the Holocaust.
4). The United States began as a nation striving for racial purity. This country is, was, and always will be a project steeped in white nationalism. Every time we salute the flag, stand for the anthem, or say we are “patriots” who respect the cops and “support our troops” – we are engaging in white nationalism. Fascism is not simply “creeping” or arriving on America’s doorstep … it has BEEN here. The Black Panthers were condemning the United States as fascist almost 50 years ago. Catch up! What we are experiencing/witnessing is the latest manifestation of an old, structural problem.
Failing to address it as such will only exacerbate the matter.