If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles. – Sun Tzu
On August 12th a group of racist bigots will converge on the Nation’s Capital to protest the “loss of white America’s civil rights.” It’s not only one of the most absurd rallying calls ever, but a view into the dark recesses of the American psyche that won’t go away. Even more astonishing than the rally is the fact that fears and forebodings that fueled the civil rights movement of the 50’s and 60’s has found a champion in the highest office of the country.
If you don’t remember the Edmund Pettus Bridge incident, often referred to as Bloody Sunday, or the former Governor of Alabama George Wallace, please review your history. Although there is no comparison to what happened on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7, 1965, when armed police attacked peaceful civil rights demonstrators marching to the state capital in Montgomery, Alabama to the events in Charlottesville a year ago, brings to light a very disturbing thought; racism will never die. CNN’s report of John Lewis’ memories of the march are a chilling reminder.
“You cannot be quiet. You have to speak up. You have to speak out. You have to find a way to get in the way and make some noise,” – Congressman John Lewis
Racism can hide in plain view, disguise itself in a disparate criminal justice system or cloak itself behind racial achievements that want everyone to believe we have overcome. I often make the analogy between the 2016 Presidential election and shaking a jar where the sediment has settled to the bottom. Before you shake it the water looks so pristine. However, after a short shake all the sludge and filth becomes evident. It takes a long time for it to settle back to normal again. That’s what happened during the election.
All the worst instincts of racism, bigotry and prejudice resurfaced in a major way. The biggest difference between the 50’s and 60’s is that the Commander-in-Chief was its biggest proponent. It was as if Wallace had returned and grabbed the presidency he failed to achieve in four attempts.
I hadn’t heard a good explanation of how people who voted for Barack Obama four years earlier could support Donald Trump. Rick Wilson, a Republican political campaign strategist, recently made a statement that cleared it up. “Not every Trump voter is a racist, phobic jerk but every racist, phobic jerk is a Trump voter”, is the way he summed it up this week on a morning talk show. I’d like to believe this because the stakes are high for the country’s moral future. A future built on a past of racial hatred, intolerance, bloodshed and heartache.
Let’s hope August 12th isn’t a repeat of Charlottesville, that racism, the ugliness, and stupidity it represents will find its way back into the recesses and shadows. On a day where the First Amendment wins and America loses, let’s also hope that the Metropolitan Police Department doesn’t provide a police escort, and Metro holds fast not to set aside special trains to accommodate this hatred.
As I stated earlier, racism won’t die, at least not in my lifetime, but we can make damn sure it’s scared to raise its head. Let’s make racism scared again!
There’s tons of information hiding in plain site. Check out Congressman John Lewis, CNN: Selma 50 years later: John Lewis’s memories of the march, PBS: Selma March 50th Anniversary, NAACP: Boynton Robinson,