On How We Saw The President’s Reaction to Charlottesville a Year Ago


I haven’t said anything publicly about what happened in Charlottesville last week, but my family sure have been getting an earful. It is amazing to me how divided this country seems right now. Those who spew racist, homophobic, and dare I say un-American rhetoric are becoming more emboldened to shout from the rooftops that they hate anyone who isn’t like them. It’s unbelievable! I’m still trying to figure out why they’re so mad. If any groups should be mad it’s those who have been institutionally oppressed for centuries.

Last year after Hillary Clinton lost the presidency in November and I was still reeling in absolute disbelief I wrote,

Now, we can only sit back and see how Trump treats those who don’t look or think like him or his family or the throngs of Americans who wholeheartedly voted for him. (November 2016)

Well, now we unequivocally know how President Trump truly feels. He let everyone know plainly and clearly his thinking about the bloody, deadly violence in Charlottesville. It seems like we’re living in the 1940s or something. Unbelievable!

I wasn’t in Charlottesville, but it’s hard for me to understand how a person publicly spewing racist rhetoric could be considered a “fine” person. Every photo, news, and video clip I’ve seen from the protest show the same thing: a group of people who clearly don’t like those unlike them and are ready to fight about it.

As a lifelong North Carolinian, our Confederate past is in our face every day from seeing a Ford F150 rumbling up the street with a rebel flag flying to seeing Confederate statues on state grounds in almost every North Carolina city. And, if it’s not a statue it’s a plaque or memorial.  Even driving up 1-95 in Virginia when we visit DC it is always disconcerting to see a gigantic Confederate flag unapologetically flying for everyone to see.

I was proud that our southern neighbor, South Carolina, removed the Confederate flag from its state capital grounds in 2015. We took our girls down to Columbia to see the flag come down. It’s too bad it took the death of nine church-goers in Charleston by a white supremacist to spur action.

3
Removal of the Confederate flag on at South Carolina capitol. 2015. Jennifer James
Confederate Flag Removal - Friday, July 10
Removal of the Confederate flag at South Carolina capitol. 2015. Jennifer James

Let’s be clear, the rebel flag might stand as a symbol of southern rights to some, but it is a constant symbol of the oppressive institution of slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, and perpetual racism. Make no mistake about it! Many want to say that people against these hate groups are trying to be historical revisionists. Well, if they want the history of how the Confederate flag has been the bane of minority groups, here goes! There isn’t any revision of hate.

I gathered these from the online Library of Congress archives this morning.

03120v
Photograph shows a group of people, one holding a Confederate flag, surrounding speakers and National Guard, protesting the admission of the “Little Rock Nine” to Central High School.
1959 Aug. 20.
LC-U9- 2919-25 [P&P]
3c14827v
Cartoon showing a man, “white league,” laying cornerstone, “extermination of the niggers,” in front of crowd of skeletons, “resuscitated democracy,” with capitol building in the background flying flag of the Confederate States of America.
[1875]
LC-USZ62-114827 (b&w film copy neg.)
 

41035v
Integration, Miss. Univ – Gov. leaving Conf. [Confederate] flag
1962 September 29.
LC-U9-8554- 25 [P&P].  This photo was taken on the eve of the Ole Miss riot of 1962 that was as a result of protesting the first black student admitted to the University of Mississippi.
As an ardent history lover, I understand how families and individuals want to remember their ancestors from the War Between the States. Unfortunately, that history and its symbols (as we saw last weekend in Charlottesville and throughout history) are too often embroiled with racism, slavery, white supremacy, and hatred.

 

2 comments

  1. I am so utterly disgusted by these events Jennifer. What is wrong with people? Charlottesville and the horrible reaction of DT (who I can’t even name) is a disgrace. It is a very sad state we as a nation are in. Very good post.

    Like

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