UPDATE (Monday, Aug. 14, 2017): A day or so late perhaps, U.S. President Donald Trump has now renounced by name the KKK and neo Nazis and other hate groups. It may have been because of public pressure — but for a democracy that’s a good thing.
With the nuclear standoff between North Korea and the United States and the racial strife, currently exemplified in the race riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, it seems we are going back to the future — to the Cold War of the 1950s and ’60s and the racial strife of the civil rights era.
But in my mind too there are major differences:
In the Cold War we had the Soviet Union, a major power (not the tiny isolated North Korea) and the United States (one of two super powers at the time) both headed by sane men (history indicates), with possibly the exception of Richard Nixon, but only in the final days of his doomed presidency when he reportedly resorted to heavy drinking and seemed a bit unstable.
Today we have what could only be termed as a certified mad man heading North Korea and to me and many others what seems to be a terribly unstable and ill-mannered man as president of the United States. Now part of his act is gamesmanship, for sure. But this is no game folks. And this is not a real estate deal where deception is commonplace. I’m not sure at all that he appreciates that.
And then what I call a race riot in Charlotte. It’s actually I suppose a fight between civil rights supporters and progressives and Black Lives Matter on the one side and neo fascists and the so-called alt right on the other. Extremists on neither side are in the mainstream of public sentiment at large I am sure. But the neo fascists I am sure are a small minority but a loud and violent one and the alt right if I understand it at all are like sympathizers with them, maybe content to let the skinhead types do the dirty work. I mean I think that is where our president is to a degree, pretending to abhor the violence but giving a mixed signal by failing to call out the far-right reactionaries and simply say he is against the violence from “all sides”. But right now the violence seems to be coming from the far right or neo fascists (same as neo Nazi). He feels he needs or he even sympathizes with the violent and ignorant of the far right.
To be sure ignorance and violence is not confined to the neo fascists but they are the ones seeming to be the most physical at the moment.
We do not yet know much about the young man who plowed his car into a crowd of people Saturday, killing one and injuring others, but so far I read that his own mother said he is connected to the alt right, and he is from Ohio (not the South). Now I don’t know his family roots, but it is interesting and creepy, and scary that what appear to be ignorant thugs have taken up the cause of those who do not want a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee removed from a park in Charlottesville.
White southerners back in the 50s and 60s didn’t want their schools desegregated; they did not want their children having to attend school with black children. They also did not want to see all the other forms of racial segregation removed, including lunch counters and city buses and restrooms and so on.
Most of the civil rights action was in the South or maybe the border states too back then (not all). The landmark civil rights court decision that banned racial discrimination, Brown v The Board of Education, stemmed from a dispute in Kansas, definitely not in the South and not a border state.
Of course in the South and some border states (I believe) racial discrimination was codified in Jim Crow laws. In the North or elsewhere it was de facto, just was and just understood to be the way, legal or not, real estate deed restrictions notwithstanding.
But today we see that racial strife survives. In fact it is alive and well. It’s really no longer a Southern cause but the cause of a segment of the white society that is not happy about a change of status. But most would not resort to violence. But the violent types get some cover from them nonetheless, as evidenced by President Trump’s failure to simply call out the skinheads.
And I don’t know why it is thought necessary to remove the statue of Robert E. Lee. It’s like trying to remove history. I do understand taking down the Confederate flag I think, although I am really almost neutral on that. But I am also not one descended from people who suffered under slavery.
But the skinhead violence has no place in our society.
And another thought:
It occurs to me that Trump’s outlandish and scary behavior in threatening nuclear war stems from his background in the pro-wrestling business. If you have ever watched all that you know it is all fake (just like fake news). It is a carnival show where two tough guys throw insults at each other and pretend (well in most cases) to do bodily damage to the other.
I have read that there are actually back-channel negotiations going on between the U.S. and North Korea even as the two crazy men, Kim Jong-un and Trump, trade threats of mutual destruction.
This bizarre situation allows both actors to play to their fan base so to speak.
But it is bad and dangerous acting.
And I realize that most of Kim Jong-un’s fan base is a captive one, literally.