posts 16 - 21 of 21
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 22

Who is the “we” Response

I can very clearly recall hearing about what happened in Charlottesville as a twelve or thirteen year old back in 2017. Even while my knowledge and understanding of white supremacist groups was quite limited, there were still thoughts in my head that played on replay as I watched the terror unravel before my eyes on national television: How can such a foul group of racists still persevere to this day? Why are they so eager to inflict pain on innocent people? Why does a person think like this?

Those questions are just as prevalent to me now as they were then. While there are varying factors in the modern day that cause acts of violence from white supremacist groups to be more frequented, I think it's worth noting that these groups never went away for a period of time, and then returned. They've always been here, in the root of the United States, as this country was founded on the principles of racism, and it is reflected in the mentalities of its citizens. I think as of now, these violent attacks are occurring as a result of people having access to any like-minded people around the world. With one click of button, people can connect themselves to an abundance of anonymous others who share the same political, economic and social opinions. White supremacists no longer need to be inconvenienced with gathering in secret, rather they can keep in touch through various social media platforms and websites. In addition to this, the four year presidency of Donald Trump played a huge role in the way that these groups present themselves today, as he offered them an opening to hate freely and publicly without fear of persecution or consequence. Trump single-handedly turned the white supremacist movement into some morphed source of pride, continually refusing to fully condemn their actions and beliefs.

I would describe the phenomenon in Charlottesville as a bizarre mix of desperation on both ends. On one hand, many of these white supremacists don't live in luxury, in fact the majority of them are somewhat poor and have been through the criminal system. Therefore, their racial beliefs are the only thing that provide them with the assurance that there are others who are inferior to them. With the rise of movements such as BLM, groups felt their status threatened, and acted accordingly. On the opposite side of the spectrum, people from the left feel a desperation to put an end to racism in America and the heinous hate crimes that coincide with it. These groups couldn’t be more apart from each other, and yet their strong senses of correctness clashed both of them together in the incident of Charlottesville.

This incident acts as an example of the toxic categorization that frequently occurs in America. People’s insistence on placing others in boxes fuels the philosophy of extremist groups, who base their entire knowledge on every person of the same ethnic background beingof the same caliber. These right winged groups place huge sums of people in the same box solely based on their race, a fact which is terrifying considering the violence that they wish to inflict upon said groups. Categorization not only enables white supremacist groups, it encourages them.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 16

I think one of the main reasons these types of movements are happening now or were happening in 2017, is because of the circumstances. As one of the white supremacists had said in the video we watched in class, the election of Donald Trump opened a door and all these extremist groups seized the opportunity. They use fear and hatred to grow in population and influence even more people. I also think since the 2016 election, tensions in the United States are incredibly high. Each side is so polarized and it causes so much hatred in the nation. I think in the future, and since 2017, it hasn't gotten better at all. People have so much hate for anyone different from them and aren't willing to open their minds. I think there has to be some form of acceptance soon, or there could be a much larger civil conflict in the entire nation. I think if everyone is against each other, it is pretty inevitable that there will be a civil issue.

I believe the reason the movements like the Rise Above Movement are gaining so much publicity and power is probably just fear. Extremists like the white supremacists use fear to influence others. People who are scared of what is going on in the country can easily be manipulated and kind of brainwashed into believing things that the neo-nazis are saying. Since Donald Trump's election, more people have been exposed to so much racist and hateful experiences, which can lead them to turn to extremist parties and organizations. They truly think they are in the right and everyone against them is wrong and a threat to the country and themselves. This is incredibly dangerous because it is very hard to get people to change their minds if in their hearts they think they are absolutely correct. As one of the people in the video we watched in class was saying, a younger teenager looking for a way to prove themselves might see the Rise Above Movement as a way to show they are strong and superior.

The groups like R.A.M believe they are in the right and everyone who doesn't is a threat. They aren't open to the option that it might not be EVERYONE. They categorize all who are different than them as basically a lower form of life without any other thought. As more and more people group others together, it is very harmful because it polarizes the country even more.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 22

Ruminating on the disquieting messages of Charlottesville

I believe that the rise in white nationality, white supremacy, and hate crimes are due to the rise of Donald Trump and the Maga cult, and the continued loss of industry and industrial jobs. The rise of Donald Trump and the Maga wing of the Republican party led to many white nationalist groups believing that they had the support and encouragement of the national government to carry out hate crimes and violence against others. They believed that with the election of Trump, they could come out of the shadows and carry out horrible attacks and marches without facing any repercussions from their attacks. This belief has emboldened them, leading to groups creating recruitment videos and propaganda to spread their ideas and their movements. This propaganda has helped their groups and ideologies grow, as many disgruntled rural folks have centered around their cause in order to protect "their" homeland and culture. In addition, the continued loss of industry and industrial jobs have left many rural folks stuck in poverty, unable to change their situation or increase their wealth due to the lack of jobs and opportunity in their regions. This lack of opportunity breeds resentment and radicalizes the people. Combine this resentment and radicalization with the election of Trump and increase of White Nationalist groups, then you lead to a massive increase of white nationalist groups that are filled with disgruntled rural folk who are tricked into believing that "other" people are to blame for the loss of industry are attacking other groups so that they can keep what little power that they have through racist social and economic complexes. This increase in hate is an ominous sign of the future. I believe that if this country continues to polarize and separate itself based on race, it will only end in a bloody conflict and horrible violence.

The Phenomenon that is at work in Charlottesville is white nationalist hate groups entering the 21st century. These groups, as previously mentioned, are using social media platforms to spread their beliefs and recruitment videos in order to attract younger generations to their cause. This message of hate and indifference is what motivates these groups. They are motivated by the growing diversity of Americans and the subtle shift of American politics to the left. These people are terrified that America is becoming more diverse and the power that White Americans have held for centuries is slowly decreasing through democratic elections. They are trying to use violence and attack these other groups in order to keep what power they have left and to protect their conservative culture, which works to divide and disenfranchise groups that don't fit in within their categories. These groups, as related to our class discussions, want to categorize each person not based on their attributes or morality, but rather simply the color of their skin. Rather than admiring the United States for their forward-thinking and progress, which is sorely lacking behind other nations, these hate groups want to fit every person in a little box that they can check off in order to attack them. It's similar to the old identity forms, that they try to be so specific that they list out the countries in which a person is of a certain race.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 25

Who is the "we" and who is the "they"?

I think that these events are taking place now because for a long time, certain groups with views as extreme as the ones displayed in Charlottesville had no platform on which to spread their ideas or to find other like-minded people. The internet and social media have completely changed this and now people can plan events from different corners of the world and remain under the radar of law enforcement. Intensely nationalist events like these also start to become more common when we get leaders like Donald Trump who enable these groups and do not condemn their actions. To have the leader of our nation condone the actions of supremacists and Neo-Nazis sends the message that these events will be tolerated and it leads to worse and worse outbreaks of violence like we saw at the Capitol building in January. In the future, as people see that they can be violent without consequence, things will just continue to get more and more out of hand and our country will become more polarized than ever. When leaders don’t actively try to defend our democracy against the outbreaks of these violent ideologies, they further solidify the “us” and them mentality that this country has struggled with since its conception.

The phenomenon at work here is simply that of white supremacy and radicalized groups of people who are intensely passionate about their agenda. Most of the individuals were raised to believe that they are inherently superior because of the color of their skin and they feel very threatened by other groups; people who are different from themselves. Some people were there for racist or anti-Semitic reasons, others were there to “preserve American culture” (i.e. preserve the systems of white supremacy and inequality on which our country was built), and some just seemed to be there to participate in the violence and hatred. A lot of what I saw in the videos was people just getting carried away in the emotions of the event and joining in on whatever violence they encountered. They see the world through the lens that American is supposed to be a white country rather than the melting pot of immigrants that it is and they think that the acceptance of other groups is "anti-white".

The phenomenon of “bubbling” and categorizing directly results in the “us” versus “them” mentality, which has gripped nations and political debates for centuries. We have seen this time and time again throughout history from Mussolini’s Italy to Armenia to Nazi Germany. Powerful political groups have utilized this "othering" tactic to put blame on entire groups of people for various issues and successfully convince the masses that they are the ones responsible for a particular social, political, or economic issue. This connects to the protests in Charlottesville where there were two distinct sides: those who claimed to be protesting the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue (i.e. an excuse for a demonstration of hate and supremacy) and the counter protesters. The most shocking thing for me was how these people were not unintelligent or uneducated and I think that living in New England this is how we subconsciously categorize the individuals at these events. Many of the people the reporters tracked down had degrees, and one was even a man with a phD that worked at NASA. In the VICE video, the man Elle Reeves followed was unbelievably articulate and he was so ready and willing to share his views. He was so sure that he was right and it was disturbing to hear such offensive things said so confidently and nonchalantly, and most of the people that were the masterminds behind the protest were the same way.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 22

Originally posted by freemanjud on October 04, 2021 22:20

View: Charlottesville: Race and Terror (2017), a VICE video. (Run time: 22:04) A warning (TW): this video contains offensive language, references to violence and hate speech, and may well be upsetting and hurtful to many viewers.

Charlottesville and the events there on a weekend in August 2017 were shocking to many who witnessed it both in person and via the many media outlets that covered the story.

In class, we have begun our look at how so many societies, both historically and today, divide people into those who are identified as “us” and “them.” We do this in a whole variety of ways and the identification of an “us” and “them” are often changing and have a certain fluidity.

That said, what happened in Charlottesville takes any notion of “us” and “them” well beyond a version 2.0 of the concept.

Reporter Elle Reeve (then of VICE News) covered the story and took us inside the thinking of some of the perpetrators of the violence in Charlottesville. To say the least, this clip (which I asked you to watch in connection with this post) is both eye-opening and terrifying.

So here’s what I’d like you to address in this post:

  • Why? Why is this happening now? And what does it portend for the future? (Yes, 2017 was a few years ago now but as you might imagine, it’s easy to draw a line from Charlottesville to what happened on January 6, 2021 and the ongoing polarization in this country.)
  • How would we describe the phenomenon that seems to be at work in Charlottesville? What’s motivating the different folks protesting there and why do they see the world as they do?
  • Finally, how is this phenomenon connected to what we were doing in class this week—that is, looking at the phenomenon of “bubbling” and categorizing?

Just in case you were not in class on Wednesday, we watched nearly all of a documentary on what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia. The documentary was from PBS’ Frontline and was titled Documenting Hate, Charlottesville. Run time was 54 minutes.

Throughout history, black people in America have been unjustly oppressed. We see violent race-based hate crimes all over the country and it stems from two things: fear and the need for power. And why now has this become an issue that needs more attention than ever? The election of a blatant white supremacist, Donald Trump, has encouraged and strengthened the ¨legitimacy¨ and power of these hate groups. Over and over again, we have seen leaders of white supremacist groups talk about how Trump has supported them in their fights. With the most powerful man in the country on their side, they are bound to feel more confident and work harder than ever.

The common theme that I saw throughout the video is that the white supremacists all said something along the lines of ¨our white founding fathers built this country and white people have sustained this country and we need to keep it that way.¨ It shocked me that so many people would say something this inaccurate and oppressive. The founding fathers ¨built¨ this country on stolen land and relied on the work of black slaves to maintain their economy and essentially keep society running. America would not be in the position of power that it is today if it were not for the work of people of color. Yet, these people are still treated like they are less than human. Thus, their ultimate foundation for which their belief is rooted upon is inaccurate.

This connects to what we were doing in class regarding categorizing because what these hate groups are doing is that same thing, but on an exponential scale. Categorizing peppers and categorizing humans are two completely different things. A lot of what they were talking about is how they should have the right to speak their minds, which is true, to an extent. I believe that everyone has a right to their own opinion and should be able to talk about that freely, unless their opinion is hurting somebody else, or in this case, an entire group of people.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

Who is the “we” and who is the “they”?: Ruminating on the disquieting messages of Charlottesville

Things like what happened in Charlottesville have been happening recently because this kind of vile hate and bigotry have been lying relatively dormant for some time in our country, but recently space was made for neo-Nazis and white nationalists to feel comfortable stepping out from the shadows and stepping into the mainstream. It isn’t fair to blame everything on one person, because nothing like this is just the responsibility of one person, but our previous president, Donald Trump, played his part in setting us back so far. He made it seem okay to be hateful and let’s be honest, racist in a very public space. Alt-righters worshipped Donald Trump, who said and did terrible things in the public eye. Trump is a big part of why this hatred is so comfortably blatant. I think that this means that in the future, tensions will continue to rise in our country and it will become more and more polarized. I’m not sure what this means exactly, but I think protests and events like Unite the Right will continue to happen, and more and more people’s views will become polarized and extreme.

I think what happened in Charlottesville is the result of the hatred and fantasies of neo-Nazis and white nationalists manifesting themselves in an ugly and frightening manner, and groups of anti-fascist protesters reacting to this and demonstrating their dissent of the message that the neo-Nazis and white nationalists stand for. I think that there’s a sick fantasy that alt-righters have of being the hero of their cause and mowing down any left-wing protesters in their way, as one man did with his car in Charlottesville, and he ended up taking the life of a young woman. I understand that I, while criticizing extremism, am not being objective in my evaluation of what happened in Charlottesville, and I’m essentially siding with one group (the anti-fascists, not the neo-Nazis, to be crystal clear) and I do see merit within not becoming extreme in your beliefs without knowing all the facts, so I’ve caught myself in a contradiction… To be quite honest I’m not sure how to cleanly tie up this train of thought, so I’ll just say that I think that many things seem to be at work in Charlottesville, namely hatred, violence, and anger. The people protesting in Charlottesville are motivated by several things, and the most significant one is anger. They are angry at many different things, but I do think that the biggest motivator there is anger. People view the world based on who they are and what and who they are surrounded by. If someone is born into a position of privilege and they never become aware of the existence of this privilege, they will only understand the world from their perspective and fail to understand how those who are less privileged could ever be discontent. If someone never learns to see the world from others’ perspectives they will have effectively trapped themselves. People can always grow and change, but only if they are willing.

I think that this is connected to the “bubbling” and categorizing that we looked at during class because what happened in Charlottesville demonstrates that it’s so easy to draw the line between “us” and “them”, and beyond that, draw the lines that we categorize others into. I think that we do this in our everyday lives- at least to some extent- as we oftentimes find comfort in those who are similar to us, and so we’ll gravitate toward those people. The danger comes into play when we start holding prejudices against those who aren’t like us when we start turning the seemingly harmless lines into deep divisions that separate us so absolutely, when on top of those divisions we build walls and hatred wells up, even though there’s a complete lack of understanding of what’s on the other side of the wall. There’s usually a window through which we can peek, but we’ll only see what we want to see, and what we want to see is the worst in whoever is on the other side of that wall. As these prejudices grow more and more extreme people forget that the people on the other side of the wall are just that, people.

posts 16 - 21 of 21