Shortly after moving to Tennessee in the mid 1980’s our local news was abuzz about a Ku Klux Klan rally scheduled to take place in Pulaski Tennessee (the birthplace of the original group). The residents of Pulaski that were interviewed on camera were all horrified by the prospect of the KKK coming to town and condemnation from every corner of the state was swift and nearly universal. I’m sure there were residents of Pulaski in favor of the rally and probably a few politicians too. Racism (and lots of other isms) has been a part of the United States since before it was the United States.
That there’s racism in this country is nothing new, but what’s new is how emboldened people are right now about expressing it. Racism used to be something assholes and bigots kept in their closets. It was if we had decided as a society that overt public displays of racism at least would not be tolerated*. I found most of the Tea Party protests directed at President Barack Obama to be racist in the extreme, but at most of those people tried to hide or deny that reality.
But all of that has changed over the last year and a half, and Donald Trump and many of his supporters are to blame for it. As David Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the KKK, said on Saturday:
“We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump. Because he said he’s going to take our country back. That’s what we gotta do.”
Donald Trump, a candidate from a major political party in the United States, was not only endorsed by racist assholes such as Duke in the last election, they expected him to enact their agenda. That’s disturbing on so many levels that I just don’t know what to write after it. When racists believe a President agrees with their ideology it opens the floodgates of public hate and ignorance, and that’s where we are now.
Just ten days after being elected President of the United States there were 900 hate incidents across the country. Forty percent of the people who committed such ignorant acts either used the name of Donald Trump to justify them or used a campaign slogan while spraying swastikas and other such garbage.
Calling someone a racist is a very serious accusation, and one I don’t make lightly. Trump is such a carnival show that I have no idea what he really believes, but he has a long history of discriminating against people of color over the last forty years. His political career began with questioning the “American-ness” of President Barack Obama, hard to believe he would have done that to a sitting white President.
Not only has Trump made racism mainstream again, the media has been playing right along with him. The term “alt-right” sounds like a group of white guys upset that they are paying too much in taxes, but the alt-right movement is not that; it’s a white-nationalist movement. People who subscribe to such ideologies were once relegated to late night cable and Jerry Springer, now they are being legitimized by a term that ignores their true evil and hate. It’s a Nazi ideology, and people who have Nazi ideologies are Nazis.
I have friends on the right who are conservative and good people. They are not racists or assholes, the so-called “alt-right” is not an alternative to their beliefs, it’s an entirely different ideology built on foundations that have nothing to do with the values of this country.
As hate has become legitimized I’ve watched the rituals of my coven change over the last ten months. Now no ritual is complete without magick being sent out to protect those more vulnerable in our society. If hate is going to be seen as acceptable I’m going to counter it with love and compassion. I’ll never be a perfect ally, but I can try to be the best person I’m capable of, and open myself up to experiences that will allow me to grow as a human being.
Donald Trump didn’t murder Heather Heyer, but he helped open the car door.
*Please not that I’m not arguing that racism went away or was absent, only that it was generally publicly rebuked when groups like the Klan gathered for a march. That a sitting President can argue that “many groups” are responsible for domestic terrorism and hate is deplorable. During the writing of this article Trump finally condemned racism in some prepared remarks. That he was unable to do so initially after and during the vents in Charlottesville Virginia speaks volumes.
Update 8/16: After reading clenching his teeth through some prepared remarks condemning racism, Trump double downed on the “both sides are just as bad” in a press conference on Tuesday August 15. I think it’s in the “off the cuff” remarks where we truly see the character of this President. Implying that people shouting Nazi slogans are “peaceful protesters” is chilling.