by Jay Monaco
It doesn’t matter if you define the perspective from which you’re coming as conservative or liberal – don’t talk to me about a post-racial society.
Don’t talk to me about colorblindness.
Don’t tell me that race is no longer an issue because Obama and because the youngs are so liberal and cool with the blacks.
A fascist, imperialist, white supremacist terrorist walked into a historic black AME church in Charleston, South Carolina and executed nine black people because they existed and he didn’t believe that they should.
Don’t talk to me about reconciliation or forgiveness or the triumph of the higher power of love. This isn’t a family counseling session. This isn’t an AA meeting. This is our world we are talking about, and while you talk about “national dialogues” and circle unity time and all that, there’s a war going on.
Don’t talk to me about how there’s no war going on just because the war doesn’t touch you and you’re comfortable enough to believe it isn’t on. Not only is the struggle real, the enemy is real, too. The enemy’s chief advantage is that, unlike you, the enemy knows there’s a war.
In the days since the fascist, imperialist, white supremacist terrorist snuffed out nine lives in a house of worship, six other houses of worship – and by that I mean black churches – have been burned to the ground. Torched.
Don’t talk to me about waiting until all the facts come in. Don’t attempt to absolve yourself from any moral or ethical responsibility by claiming with all the charm of an enlightenment-era slave owner that we don’t really know the cause of the fires or why they were set or who set them.
We do know. Look it in the face.
It’s true that church burning is a time-honored racist terrorist technique, and it’s also true that church burnings happen much less often than they did in other periods. But this latest wave of arson does and must assume outsized significance in the sense that it is happening in response to the Charleston attack. This is the continuation of that attack. Not all terrorists are inherently cowards, but you should note that these frightened souls seem capable only of attacking the defenseless worshipers of a Middle-Eastern God they believe, for some reason, to be proprietary to “the whites.” But we know already that they’re cowards. When the group of people who holds all the privilege, cultural power, political power, position, and wealth is actually frightened of the existence of those whom they are successfully oppressing into a state of permanent underclass, those people are definitively and self-evidently cowards of the lowest order. The other decentralized terror cells have received their signal, their rallying cry defined, and they are taking up the banner.
And speaking of banners, don’t tell me the Confederate Battle Flag is about heritage. I already know that – it’s the heritage of a slave plantation economy. Don’t tell me people have the right to fly it because FREEDOM OF SPEECH, BRAH. Rights, man, John Locke. Don’t tell me that.
Don’t remind me about how the TPP is important. I can focus on more than one thing at once, I can believe more than one thing to be important at the same time, and, furthermore, I recognize that both material things and symbols can matter, each for several reasons.
The enemy is a shape-shifting hydra. We have to fight the overt oppression found in voter disenfranchisement, gerrymandering, and the drug war – also known as The New Jim Crow. We have to fight the more insidious and occasionally more well-concealed systemic institutions of oppression, in our law enforcement scheme and the entire criminal justice system. We have to fight the soft bigotry, and we even have to fight the Tokenism Is Equality people, the gnomes of TED Talk Forest who mistakenly believe that The Race Puzzle is Solved as soon as we can get the number of minorities represented in society’s various sectors equivalent to their proportion in the population. It’s difficult to identify any one of the hydra’s heads as more dangerous or more important to defeat than the others, but the most acutely evil of them all is surely that faction actually dedicated to causing the genocide of people.
I’m not going to dirty myself further scrounging the internet for mainstream media evidence of the fascist right-wing white-supremacist terrorist element’s existence. Dylann Roof was inspired directly by individuals who openly and admittedly aspire to inspire people like Dylann Roof, and we know this because he told us pretty clearly. It’s easy to dismiss these people as tin foil hat crazies and rednecks, and surely in reality they do not represent the disciplined White Army Regiments they imagine themselves to be in their minds. But they do send people intentionally into the military, where they “can use the training to secure the resistance to our government. Every one of them takes a pact of secrecy … Our military doesn’t agree with our political beliefs, they are not supposed to be in the military, but they’re there, in ever greater numbers.” That’s Charles Wilson – not the Charles Wilson that was Tom Hanks in that movie, but the one the Guardian describes as leader of one of “the top neo-Nazi groups in America.” They want to learn combat techniques for what they believe to be the coming race war. All of them talk about fighting in it – that is, all of them talk about killing black people just for breathing – and some of them are evidently willing to actually do so.
If they go unchallenged, if they receive even tacit sympathy or tolerance, their confidence will grow, and more of them will start following their immoral, depraved beliefs to their logical (if horrifying) conclusion. We must, therefore, challenge them.
Do not talk to me about disagreeing with them but being willing to fight to the death for their freedom to express their views. Fuck that. I do not merely disagree with them, I will not fight to the death, or at all, for their right to say anything, and I do not recognize nor support their freedom of expression in any way. If a “universal right to free expression” means I have to tolerate the existence of hate speech from fascist racist Nazi terrorists and I agree that it probably does – then I support no such right at all.
I do not support the right of the fascists to speak; in fact, I do not support the fascists’ right to exist. I support no person or entity whose liberal enlightenment existence will lead directly to the death, terror, and enslavement of others. Do not talk to me of these things.
Do not ever, ever remind me that #alllivesmatter, lest you reveal yourself to lack either a brain or a soul.
Do not speak to me of a loving forgiveness that precludes counterattack and even prohibits proactive defensive measures. Do not talk about turning the other cheek. I do not wish to so expose my neck for the slashing, and I do not advocate that any other person do so, either.
Instead, I advocate for no mercy and no quarter. The fascists must themselves be made to feel unsafe. They must be granted no structural comforts, no feeling of security. They must be outed publicly, they must be actively monitored, their plans and activities must be anticipated so that they can be thwarted – by force, if necessary. They must be harassed, shamed, barred from employment. We must know their names and their faces and, ideally, know whenever any one of them so much as purchases a book of matches. Forgiveness doesn’t put out the fire; that’s what a Fire Department is for.
Accordingly, the fascists must be denied their symbols. Perhaps not every grotesque apologist for the slave-army battle flag is a fascist, but every fascist claims it for their own. They must be torn down and burned, and above all else they must not fly above any public building, for that alone provides a treasonous abundance of aid and comfort to the terrorists. That’s a serious federal charge, you know.
If only it were applied consistently.
In closing, I turn to the heroic woman responsible for (if only briefly) the lowering of the Confederate Battle Flag from the flagpole at the South Carolina State House, for hers is the example to follow. When a flag requires removal, we do not debate about it or vote on it or wait for the system to do it all proper. When the flag needs to come down, you get your ass up there and fucking take it down.
You want to talk, let’s talk about that lesson.
Bree Newsome released a brilliant, eloquent statement to the Blue Nation Review, in which she stated to and for us all:
I watched in horror as black Americans were tear-gassed in their own neighborhoods in Ferguson, MO. “Reminds me of the Klan,” my grandmother said as we watched the news together. As a young black girl in South Carolina, she had witnessed the Klan drag her neighbor from his house and brutally beat him because he was a black physician who had treated a white woman.
I visited with black residents of West Baltimore, MD who, under curfew, had to present work papers to police to enter and exit their own neighborhood. “These are my freedom papers to show the slave catchers,” my friend said with a wry smile.
And now, in the past 6 days, I’ve seen arson attacks against 5 black churches in the South, including in Charlotte, NC where I organize alongside other community members striving to create greater self-sufficiency and political empowerment in low-income neighborhoods.
For far too long, white supremacy has dominated the politics of America resulting in the creation of racist laws and cultural practices designed to subjugate non-whites. And the emblem of the confederacy, the stars and bars, in all its manifestations, has long been the most recognizable banner of this political ideology. It’s the banner of racial intimidation and fear whose popularity experiences an uptick whenever black Americans appear to be making gains economically and politically in this country.
It’s a reminder how, for centuries, the oppressive status quo has been undergirded by white supremacist violence with the tacit approval of too many political leaders.
The night of the Charleston Massacre, I had a crisis of faith. The people who gathered for Bible study in Emmanuel AME Church that night—Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Myra Thompson and Rev. Clementa Pinckney (rest in peace)—were only doing what Christians are called to do when anyone knocks on the door of the church: invite them into fellowship and worship.
The day after the massacre I was asked what the next step was and I said I didn’t know. We’ve been here before and here we are again: black people slain simply for being black; an attack on the black church as a place of spiritual refuge and community organization.
I refuse to be ruled by fear. How can America be free and be ruled by fear? How can anyone be?
…I see no greater moral cause than liberation, equality and justice for all God’s people. What better reason to risk your own freedom than to fight for the freedom of others? That’s the moral courage demonstrated yesterday by James Ian Tyson who helped me across the fence and stood guard as I climbed. History will rightly remember him alongside the many white allies who, over the centuries, have risked their own safety in defense of black life and in the name of racial equality.
…It is important to remember that our struggle doesn’t end when the flag comes down. The Confederacy is a southern thing, but white supremacy is not. Our generation has taken up the banner to fight battles many thought were won long ago. We must fight with all vigor now so that our grandchildren aren’t still fighting these battles in another 50 years. Black Lives Matter. This is non-negotiable.
We have to mean that.
And here in New England, we like to think there’s no white supremacist skinhead Nazi groups here, but we all know that’s not the case. Do you know of any far-right fascist hate group activity in Lowell or Manchester or wherever you are? Drop us a line – we need to coordinate on this stuff. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out via the available social media channels.
Only together, and only with vigilance and commitment can we ensure liberation, security, and power for all people – and prevail over those who will deny such things to others only if we do nothing and allow them to.