With the events that have happened this weekend in Charlottesville, Western society has been forced to look at their definition of terrorism once more. The neo-Nazi, white supremacist-type mindsets have felt like a ticking time bomb; we all knew they have been hiding in front of us, just waiting to erupt into a chaotic mess. Most media outlets haven’t focused on white supremacy’s impact on society as heavily as it has with Islamic terrorism and other forms of exclusive mindsets. However, the attacks in Charlottesville have called for some long-awaited attention. To quickly debrief, the “Unite the Right” rally was held in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 11th and 12th to protest against the removal of a Confederate monument in Lee park (or Emancipation park). The rally consisted of alt-right and far right idealists, white supremacists, white nationalists, neo-Confederate, and neo-Nazi groups. Many were injured and one woman was killed at this event. The United States Justice Department labelled it as “domestic terrorism”, and there is a possibility of this rally being tried in court as a hate crime. The event brought some subtle extremist ideologies to light, which haven’t been mentioned as often by mainstream media.
In my personal opinion, the fact that white privilege exists isn’t something we can easily fight. Instead, it is up to the people who hold this privilege to change the world with it. It is up to the people with privilege and power to fight for those who are stifled and do not have a voice. However, it goes without saying that the participants in this specific rally were scared. They were seemingly afraid of losing the privilege that they’ve held for the past few centuries. White privilege exists and has been existing for a long time, but as society changes, the fear of this privilege being taken away is overwhelming to those who have become comfortable basking in it. It’s becoming simply impossible to disconnect from the plethora of strong cultures and races which colour our world. White supremacy, neo-Nazism, and similar ideologies are truly just white people who are afraid to lose their place in society’s hierarchy. The famous fourteen words of white supremacy, after all, are “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”
This is why I wasn’t surprised when Donald Trump, the president of the United States, responded to this event by barely mentioning these groups. Trump continually mentioned that hate groups and extremism are unacceptable, while failing to address the topic at hand. He did not talk specifically about the occurrences during the “Unite the Right” rally. This isn’t to say that Trump is a white supremacist by any means, but only that his actions prove a certain point. People hope, wish and pray for change, yet we are equally as afraid of it. Trump, for example, must hope for some sort of change or shift in society and its way of dealing with terrorism. However, he doesn’t wish for this change more than he does wish for his privilege to remain untouched. If he calls out the groups of people involved with the rally, he is bringing to light a problem with his own right-leaning views, weakening his stance. The fear of losing what we have is what fuels these types of violent and painful acts.
We all wish for some sort of change. However, we cannot change if we do not look at what is truly going on in the world right now. We need to look at the painful and horrifying realities of what surrounds us. The undying existences of white supremacy, neo-Nazism, and other exclusive and racist ideologies are slowly increasing in potency. They all exist. Hatred exists. Bigotry exists. Anger exists. With all of these things, however, comes the responsibility of talking about it. As humankind, we need to discuss the bad, as well as the good, and truly be comfortable bringing all of our flaws to the surface. It is so important to teach each other and discuss our beliefs. Talking about everything we are, as well as being open to each other, is the only way we can really bring change that we can finally be confident in.