Letters To The Editor

When Johnny comes marching home again

    I’ve been listening to the news again and wouldn’t you know it? The far right and the far left clashed in CharlotteSville, Virginia. Three died, six critical, and a dozen or more injured seriously. They want a statue of Robert E. Lee sitting atop his horse, Traveler, removed because, because, because why? It brings people from their Utopian world to face a dose of reality! General Lee was a graduate of West Point, a good military man whose sympathies happened to lie with the south as he was born in the commonwealth of Virginia.

The Klan, Neo-Nazis and their ilk were there and on the other side were the ANTIFA’s. Actually both sides were fascists! Running down and killing people with automobiles, half the crowd on both sides wearing head protection. Everyone knew beforehand there was going to be trouble. The Klan had their cross burning the night before, and the ANTIFA’s were fired up as well. There was going to be a riot and everyone in law enforcement were well aware.

Here is what I don’t understand: Number 1, people of color are claiming that the statue of Lee and the rebel flag are offensive and make one to recall the days of slavery. Ancestral connections are certainly a cause to hold dear and I can understand that. Here is what I cannot understand: The plantations were down south, most of the south was agricultural. There were no cotton fields in the north. The north was more industrial and they benefited from southern cotton. One of the biggest reasons besides slavery was that the south was going to ship their bales of cotton to Europe for a better price! Economics is very important to every country.

The democrats were predominately in the south, as a matter of fact, Abraham Lincoln, a republican who had the Emancipation Proclamation passed to free the slaves, chose Andrew Johnson, a southern democrat, as his vice-president.

The Klan professes to be Christian, that’s a fact. Yet they hate blacks and Jews. The very person that they identify with, Jesus Christ, was in the flesh born a Jew!!!!! Here’s another fact, a historical fact: The Klan was started by the democratic south!!! They were organized to keep the black population in check, in other words “in their place.” Check your history.

These two groups are all anarchists, both sides know it but guess who is getting the blame for the fiasco? Donald J. Trump! Who da thunk it?

–Kenny Barnes

Paulding, Ohio


Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

What happened in Charlottesville Saturday was horrifying and is a concrete example of how politically and socially divided we are as a nation (if not an exhibition of how important racial issues are in modern politics). But I cannot say I am disgusted or appalled precisely because those terms imply an element of surprise. But the fact of the matter is that I am not surprised at all by the events that transpired. Despite what is often believed, I don’t think tensions over race and “white culture” ever died out. I think they were just ignored. Now, in the last several years, tension is getting worse and the tangible evidence of a deeply divided nation is coming to the forefront.

I am surprised by the number of people unwilling to say that these white nationalists are wrong. I’ve heard a number of excuses as to why their actions might be justified, but none of them are good enough. No, it is not Obama’s fault that racial tensions are flared up, and even if it is his fault, it is only because he picked the scab on an infected wound that needs to be cleansed and healed. And if you recall from the election cycle, Trump again and again flared up these tensions by stereotyping ethnic/racial groups, by profiling a judge, and by making blanket statements not just against illegal immigrants, but also against *legal* foreigners.

Furthermore, it is not a valid argument to play the “what-aboutism” game. It doesn’t matter “what about” Black Lives Matter or “Antifa” (also known as “anti-fascists”). Black Lives Matter is not associated with a historical ideology that has lead to the oppression of millions of people and Antifa is only known for its edgy young adults who happen to desire revolution and protest against the bourgeoisie (i.e. Marxism). Of course, I won’t argue that Antifa is dangerous and misguided. But blaming them for the opposition of right-wing extremists is not addressing the problem. They may unwittingly be stoking the fears and anger of white nationalists, but they are not ultimately to be blamed for the problems we are facing today.

But these excuses are all red herrings to the real issue. Antifa and BLM could be “racist”, “terrorist” organizations and it still wouldn’t take away from the fact that this protest deserves to be condemned for the evil that it is. Those young men who are protesting in favor of white culture and using the slogans of the Nazis (Blut und boden— “blood and soil”) are either deceived by propaganda or creating the propaganda themselves. They felt legitimated by Trump coming to the presidency because of Trump’s careless and ridiculous rhetoric against foreigners and immigrants. Steve Bannon, as one of the inspiring figures of Alt-right “communities”, was perhaps Trump’s worst mistake. Bannon’s ideology has many points of connection with people who believe that white, specifically European, culture should be preserved and that the diversification of the nation should be limited or stopped. This is not merely an attitude of anger towards illegal immigrants. This is a hostile worldview towards both legal immigrants and the many foreign cultures and identities that make up American society. Not only is it hostile towards those who have come here from other nations, but to those who have lived in the United States as minorities for generation upon generation and have been mistreated by whites.

We shouldn’t be afraid to call out these people. They aren’t real conservatives. They aren’t what the GOP should stand for. They aren’t what the classical liberal tradition has stood for. And Trump should not be afraid of losing their support. White nationalism, the desire to have a more uniform nation with a white culture, is a cancerous tumor in the American political arena. This ideology is a thing of the past, based in the misguided concept of “race realism”, the idea that there are true subspecies of homo sapiens that correspond to various racial identities. It is what inspired Nazism in the past and it is what continues to inspire negativism and prejudice towards minorities and non-Western cultures.

Why is it that we so often talk about the courageous men who fought against the Nazis in WWII but we get nervous criticizing our fellow citizens for supporting similar ideologies (even less extreme ones)? Why do we praise MLK Jr. for his work in the civil rights movement, but refuse to recognize that more work needs to be done today for the cause of the protection of minority groups? Are we really going to pretend that the work of civil rights was finished when MLK was assassinated or when 1969 came to a close? Did the issues of racism and prejudice magically disappear when the year was 1970? Why do we praise President Grant for almost destroying the remains of the KKK in the 1870’s but we aren’t angry with those who try to perpetuate a similar narrative to the KKK today? Why do we praise people who want to force immigrants to assimilate into “American culture”, when an American ideal is the freedom of the individual to express their culture and ideas in a society that celebrates our cultural differences in unity?

We shouldn’t be willing to glorify the heroes of our past but neglect their legacy in the present day in the name of a political ideology. Your loyalty shouldn’t be to any candidate, president or party, but to speak truth and to speak about what is right and just. I am glad that a vast number of conservatives and liberals are condemning the ideology of white nationalism, but everyone, Trump supporter, conservative, Democrat, socialist, whatever.. should be willing to do so as well. They may have a right to believe their ideology and speak out about it, but they cannot be the ones representing who America is to the world. We are a nation of immigrants that welcomes immigrants. We are a nation of diversity that should want to heal the divides and prejudices of our past. And as long as we are unwilling to call out racism and prejudice for what it is, we cannot even begin to address the problem.

–Joshua Steiner

Antwerp, OH