Privilege

I was originally going to write something on ignorance. I wanted to speak about the dangers of blind, symbolic allegiances to nations, parties, etc., and the way that this had led to where we are today. But after the actions at Charlottesville yesterday, I can’t bring myself to write that article. One day I will, as I do believe that the current state of education, particularly of political and international history, is vital to the understanding of how people have voted for populism over the past 18 months. But today is not a day to talk about ignorance. Today, we must speak about privilege. Of morality, of decisions, and of truth. Of complicity, and of the need to confront our problems, and confront the intolerant.

Make no mistake, the ‘Unite the Right’ protesters yesterday were fully aware of what they wanted to represent. In the build-up to and following November 8th, media outlets have devoted a ridiculous amount of attention to the seemingly naive, susceptible Trump voter – the American who felt insecure. Insecurity is certainly at play here, but let us not pretend that this insecurity comes from anywhere but a privileged, entitled sense of where the White man belongs in the United States. Those who have succumbed to populism, to neo-nazism in the United States and in Europe are those that have felt that it is their right to be the dominant society, to be the affluent. To be the lawmakers and the law enforcers, to reap the benefits of production across the world, as is their right as the foundations of capitalism, of the global economy. These people are not ignorant of the suffering of the rest of the world, they just don’t care. The preppy economist students and libertarians who saw Trump as a means to shake up the system, and who saw Brexit as a retreat from a controlled European economy, knew full well what the nationalist factions of those campaigns wanted, and they didn’t care. The young, white, men marching in Charlottesville yesterday care not about the experience of the African American, the Hispanic American, the immigrant or descendent of the immigrant. They will discuss poverty in the Third World like it is not their problem. They will suggest birth control and population limits in Third World countries, then shriek “white genocide” when they see non-whites appear in their entertainment, in their advertising, in their neighbourhoods. These people are white supremacists. To suggest their beliefs stem from anything other than an unwavering belief in their right to power, prosperity, and privilege is a disgrace to their victims. It is an assumption with dangerous results, leading politicians to attempt to pander to their sordid disgusting ideals rather than confront them and expose them for what they are.

We must look at the peddlers of lies. We must show people like Bill O’Reilly, Tomi Lahren, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Alex Jones, the workers at Fox News; the peddlers of lies, stokers of rage and anger, those who fuel persecution; for what they are. Kayleigh MacEnany and anybody who has decided to become involved in Trump’s shameless attempt at a propaganda network in his ‘Real News’ Facebook show, peddling nothing but praise for him in front of a backdrop covered in his name. Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, formerly Sean Spicer, Anthony Scaramucci, and all the other vile mouthpieces of the Trump administration. Nigel Farage, Katie Hopkins, Steven Bannon, Richard Spencer, Milo Yiannapoulos. Dana Loesch and her disgusting ‘call to arms’ videos for the NRA. None of these people are ignorant, none are misguided. They are all fully aware of the repercussions of their words, of the impact of their hate. They are aware of their position in society, and their ability to use rhetoric to further a narrative that suits them, their careers or the careers of their masters. They thrive on controversy. These are educated people. These are privileged people, seeking only to further consolidate their existing support bases, totally aware that their listeners will believe their words, and will act on them when they are called for. Remember their names.

In the aftermath of events like this, there is a tendency to look at violence on both sides as a bad thing. Those in the centre or in positions of authority, or in the media, come out with terms like “clashes”, condemning violence on all sides. They suggest that all parties involved are equal in their wrongdoing, and that peace and unity is the only answer. They offer empty solutions in the form of rhetoric designed to present a vaguely positive message without any attempt to grapple with the issues at hand. Yesterday we saw Nazis and white supremacists take to the streets to protest the removal of a statue depicting Robert E. Lee, a man who fought against virtually everything that the supposed ideals of the United States, those of tolerance, freedom, and equality. They marched to preach against an imagined persecution of the white race, an ethnic group that has gained everything through the exploitation of their fellow man. They marched to support a discriminative President, and to preach their own ideals of what an American society should look like – white. They brought their guns and they marched through the streets in pseudo-military attire; and they were tolerated. They were free to do so. Setting aside the fact that young African-Americans, such as the 12 year old Tamir Rice, have been killed for being seen with toy guns. That riot gear and curfews were enacted in Ferguson after protests about the killing of Michael Brown in 2014. The cases of U.S. authorities using extreme force against non-white protesters are numerous. The reporting of these events is similarly awful – you can rest assured there is little discussion of “many sides” following civil unrest when it involves a non-white community. Yet these are the narratives we have seen in the aftermath of Charlottesville. And still we see politicians, commentators, calling for peaceful unity, for hope and love. Nice ideas, empty solutions.

I am unequipped to tell you the realities of life in the U.S., or anywhere, from the perspective of a minority. I am a young, white, male, and I’m similarly sure I couldn’t even imagine some of the benefits I have enjoyed from this, as the whole point is that my life has not been affected by discrimination. Thus, I am ultimately unqualified to give an idea of the extent of oppression and subjugation of minority groups in these Western capitalist democracies. But I can say that these men, protesting yesterday, they too are not victims. They too are aware of their social position. But these people are nevertheless pursuing these narratives, they are seeking to accomplish their white supremacist goals, wilfully ignorant of all the benefits they have reaped throughout their lives. They seek to further subordinate their fellow man, and they feel entitled to do so. These men, and women, are disgusting. They should be treated as such. Now is not a time to consider peaceful, loving solutions to their issues with the way of the world. Now is a time to expose and confront these evil people for what they are, and what they choose to believe about their place in the world.

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