Chaos in Charlottesville- Moving Forward

The violence that has rocked our nation in Charlottesville this weekend was reminiscent of the Civil War. Although our president would not condemn the white nationalist terrorism this weekend, Gov. Terry McAuliffe renewed his calls for white supremacists to leave the city, and even the country, in the wake of violence that saw the beautiful and brave Heather Heyer to an early grave. The same day, troopers had to be assigned to the governor’s travel detail, and two state officers were killed in a helicopter crash. 

On Saturday, McAuliffe told the demonstrators to go home. On Sunday he went further.
“Let’s be honest, they need to leave America, because they are not Americans,” he said. While those words are passionately spoken and help to convey the message of grief and sorrow that all of us are feeling, these events were all too American. The last eight years lulled many into a false sense of complacency as to the improvement of racial relations in America. This is a very old problem, however, and its roots go back much farther even than slavery. The topic is very large. For our purposes, we will be looking at race relations in the millennial era, from 1980 forward, with a brief look back at the most important recent events that set the context for them.
Particularly the War on Drugs should receive attention, as it is one of the most notable weapons available to the forces of reaction vis-a-vis the suppression of ideological and political adversaries. Other forms of new and subtle economic pressure and exclusion were also further developed, and applied by certain sections of white America to deny people from other ethnic backgrounds a share of the American dream. These methods included discriminatory hiring practices, rent control, and gentrification.
The first one to use the term War on Drugs was Richard Nixon. The concept was a political farce from the start, based on racism and a callous desire to remain in power at any cost. Nixon plotted this out during the 1968 campaign for the presidency because the opposition was comprised mainly of hippies and blacks, both perceived to be into drugs.  Nixon’s domestic policy advisor, John Ehrlichman later said, “We knew we were lying about the health effects of marijuana.  We knew we were lying about the relationship between heroin and crime.  But this is what we were doing to win the election.  And it worked.”

After being elected as Governor of California, Ronald Reagan quickly made himself a hero to conservatives with his crack downs on anti-war protests in Berkeley. During the implementation of these draconian measures, police brutality led to the murder of James Rector, shot and killed by police. After he was elected President, it was soon to be more of the same. This was to manifest in the official War on Drugs, personified best by the famous words of First Lady Nancy Reagan- Just Say No.

During the tenure of the senior Bush’s time in the White House, the war on drugs was running low on steam, although this did not stop him from intensifying his attempts to make his power felt in that department almost immediately. His famous War on Crack speech in 1989 sent a brutal message. During the speech President Bush pledged one billion dollars for the drug war because “we need more jails, more prisons, more courts and more prosecutors. The laws enacted shortly after this time created sentencing disparities along racial lines that would last for years to come, and have not been thoroughly fixed today. These disparities are still a weak point and a stressor on the stability and conscience of the nation.

The Obama presidency represented the highest watermark yet, in the struggle of people of color and women to assert their rightful equality in a country that had historically denied them. The fact of Hillary Clinton’s having won the popular vote, and without Russian aid, is another tremendous step in the right direction. That success has the forces of reaction up in arms. The status quo is altering, regardless of their attempts to preserve it.

The events of Charlottesville and many other events, both nationally and worldwide, are a sad and grotesque example of just how far radicals will go to avoid parting with a familiar idea. However, in the immortal words of Dr. Martin Luther King, No lie lives forever. The rest of the civilized world has already long ago moved on from this awful way of thinking.

The death of Heather Heyer was not in vain. Already, the terrified organizer of this rally, the largest hate rally in decades. has been chased off the stage of his own conference. In abject cowardice and disgrace. He knows in his heart they have gone too far, and awoken a sleeping giant. The nameless worm who murdered her, gave her more power to change the world in death than she ever could have had in life. Let her name become our battle-cry, our clarion call to action.

Moving forward, we have got to remain calm. If this situation escalates too far it could lead to civil war. That said, however, we are also not going to be victims. That’s out. The NAACP has issued a travel advisory to women, people of color, and anyone with a disability to a specific State, Missouri, which is another sad first in a year that has been full of them. It is the opinion of Millennial Democrats that you can add anyone with long hair, an eccentric mode of dress, or license plates from any coastal state to be very careful in all of Middle America, to the list of people that advisory applies to. Look out for yourselves, and each other.

As we mourn the death of Heather Heyer, we mourn as well that things in our fair nation have come to this. We mourn that peaceful protest can no longer be counted on to remain so. We mourn that the President refuses to disavow and condemn her killer, choosing instead to rebuke “many sides” for that hideous act, as if the brave and beautiful woman who lost her life yesterday was on par with the savage who snuffed out her promising young life. But in our sadness, we will become even stronger. A hundred thousand will rise up in terrible anger at the thought of the outrage that has blighted our beautiful country. Chaos in Charlottesville will not last forever. When the dust settles, we will gently pick up the pieces, and lay our friend to rest, and move on.

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