Torch carrying white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. Photo by Abdul Aziz.
In the wake of this weekend’s deadly neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, we reach out to every one of you. As a country, we can’t afford to look back later and wish that we had taken this threat more seriously. For those of us who are white, we must meet our responsibility to undermine and out-organize this rising movement. In every home, on every campus, on your block or workplace, in churches and synagogues and mosques, there is no more “staying neutral.”
Publicly, these white supremacists claim they’re holding “free speech” rallies; in communications to each other, they call it ‘race war’ and openly talk of genocide. They must not be allowed to recruit and incite violence in our communities. Organizing for a white ethnostate is not “free speech.”
“Unite the Right” was a planned race riot this weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia. On Friday night, polo-shirted men carried torches onto the UVA campus, invoking a century and a half’s worth of Klan violence and impunity, and used those torches to beat students at the base of a Confederate statue. They chanted the Nazi slogan “blood and soil,” and “Jews will not replace us.” On Saturday, they carried Nazi flags and shields. They’re not a fringe, and they don’t exist only on the internet. These men are someone’s neighbor, co-worker, uncle, boss, state representative, parole officer, son. Maybe yours or mine.
We can’t shrug our shoulders and hope that the state will curb the rise of overt racist violence or organizations advocating genocide- if you had doubts, look at how the Daily Stormer read Trump’s response as support for them. Militarized police and tanks in the street did not stop James Alex Field Jr from accelerating his sports car into a street packed with counterprotestors, wounding 20 people including a 12 year old Black girl, and killing 32 year old Heather Heyer. As we have seen at white supremacist rallies in the Bay Area and elsewhere, police continue their practice of working with rather than against the fascist demonstrators. As Cornell West said, “The police didn’t do anything in terms of protecting the people of the community and the clergy. If it hadn’t been for the anti-fascists protecting us from the neo-fascists, we would have been crushed like cockroaches.”
If you find yourself in disagreement with the tactics used by other people opposing fascists at these white supremacist race riots, consider this: whatever energy you put into critiquing antifascists for throwing bottles or punching Richard Spencer, please put at least 10 times that amount of energy into other methods of directly challenging the rise of fascist organizing. The time is now for supporting everyone who comes under attack for anti-fascist organizing. We can have the important conversations about strategy while we also have each others’ backs.
White supremacist violence and intimidation against communities of color comes in a million forms. Regardless of where you are, there are leaders of color to learn from, there’s work going on to build liberatory power in the communities that are targeted and disenfranchised by white supremacy, and there’s white people who are moveable.
With love and responsibility,
With the Catalyst Collective