posts 1 - 15 of 21
freemanjud
Boston, US
Posts: 318

Take a look at this video: 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 will begin shortly to 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” is often changing and has a certain fluidity.


That said, what happened in Charlottesville took 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.


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


  • Why? Why was this happening? And what did 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?
  • Do you think something like this—or worse than January 6, 2021—could happen again?

Just in case you were not in class on Monday/Tuesday, 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.

tiktok1234
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

Charlottesville: Race and Terror

  • In my opinion, for many years, white men have been the power and dominant people in the nation. They feel that they are losing power, as the U.S. is trying to take some steps toward equality and justice for what has happened in the past. They do not like that they are losing their dominance, and this angers them greatly. A Confederate statue in Charlottesville was going to be taken down, and this angered the right-wing protesters who started rioting and protesting on the streets. I think that something like this could definitely happen again. A lot of the people on January 6 were members of the same groups as Charlottesville. I think now, more than ever in recent times, people are being polarized. Especially after Covid, people just started having much stronger opinions about things. The Capitol riot on January 6, 2021 is a perfect example. I think that something like this will happen around the 2024 elections.
catlover69
Posts: 8
The way I see it this is going to happen again. White men have had the power for so long, and they feel like they are slowly losing it. And that terrifies them, because what are they if not the dominant ones? Who are they if not the people seen as the "superior race"? Who are they if not the ones who get away with their terrorist actions? This changing world is beginning to strip them of their power, and they are losing their identity which makes them fearful. So they act out, trying to get ahead of what they fear may happen they incite violence onto those they deem less than. Those who are willing to stand up for the minorities of this country, along with the minorities themselves. This country was built on violence so of course, the first course of action when things begin to go wrong is to be violent. When the radical statue was getting taken down, the conservative right-winged white men became angry and decided to go and "protest". Protesting is not what they did, they used it as a blanket term to try and hide what they actually intended to do. Show the minorities of this country 'whos boss'. Every part of what happened in Charlottesville has to do with racism. I do whole heatedly believe that something like this will happen again. If not this year maybe the next. Because even as a country that is “trying” (I put this in quotations because there’s SO much more we could be doing) to head in the right direction there’s still so much we’re letting slide and not paying attention to. Here’s a question, why would law enforcement, the police, turn a blind eye when the right winged radicals are protesting about a STATUE or INVADING THE CAPITAL? But when people were fighting and peacefully protesting for the lives of black HUMAN BEINGS in this country who are getting killed every other day, they get pepper sprayed and maced almost instantly and had law enforcement hitting them and applying unnecessary force. I think that this says a lot about where the majority of the police stand in these situations, and where we’re we’ll be for the next few years. As much as I hate to admit it nothing is truly changing. “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states…one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all”. The definition of the word all is “including everyone without any exception”. If you can look someone in the face and tell them that the United States has justice and liberty for every single person, and truly mean that sentence you are the beginning of the problem that needs to be fixed. There has never been justice and equality for every single person in this country, especially the minority, and there is no one that can say otherwise.
hollyfawn
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 9

Who is the we and who is the they - Charlottesville

The reason the riots in Charlottesville and across the country happened, although as poor of a reason as it is, is because change in the country was happening and those white people who participated in the riots were scared of that change. Some were fearful of being replaced or being taken out of their positions of power, as those who are privileged feel underprivileged when actually being treated equally. Some just wanted an excuse to take out their anger and racist beliefs in a violent way. Whatever the reason, the riots during this time were dangerous and the ominous words shared by many rioters - that they would be back and that they would come back stronger - make me think that there will be more incidents like this and the capitol riot on January 6 2021 in the future.

I think it is important to note that we Northerners like to think we are innocent, free of sin and that the Southerners are the "evil racists". This is so far from true. The racism here is not even well hidden, many of us just refuse to take accountability. It is not just cis, straight, white men from the south but people of all genders, races, sexualities perpetuating these racist ideologies. Black people voted for Trump in 2016 and Trump later used this to pretend he isn't the racist evil man that he is. Rioters in Charlottesville and at the capitol came from everywhere, including the North, and pretending like we have no problems will only lead to harder to ignore events like the riots happening on our own doorsteps.

StaphInfarction
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 9
I think it is very easy as human beings to make categories. Tribalism has always been a part of our social culture, from the stone age until now. It's simply because humans who stuck together tended to survive more, and that mentality has carried into the modern age despite our best efforts. I bet even as you read the replies on this forum you will find people drawing "they" categories. What happened in Charlottesville is a product of tribalism, the "us" and the "them". What's very interesting to me is that the riot was not over some fear blown out of proportion, there was not a threat to begin with. The type of ideas displayed at these riots is similar to a rot; it lies dormant, almost undetectable until it has fatally damaged the foundation. The only way to deal with rot is to tear out everything it has affected.


There is always going to be unrest and chaos, it's a law of the universe. The issue arises in knowing why these events occur. For that, I do not have the answer, but when we discuss these things we need to shed the "they" mentality.

If you want to know more about tribalism I recommend CGP Grey's "This video will make you angry"

moioma
Boston , MA, US
Posts: 10

"We" vs. "They"

The events in Charlottesville are disturbing and point to the growing divide in American society. For the majority of America’s past, white males have held absolute power. Now that there has been progress towards a more diverse and equitable society, white supremacists are threatened by this change. They feel like their due power and influence is in jeopardy and slowly slipping away. These extremist protests and shows of immense hatred and hostility towards a particular group of individuals proves the severity of the problem. Much of these hateful beliefs can be attributed to a “we” vs. “they” mentality. To the white supremacists, the “we” are cis white men and the “they” are everyone else that believes or looks differently such as Jews, people of color, and the LGBTQ+ community. This mentality is blaming certain groups of people for certain events or in their case, the decline of their power. The beliefs and behavior of the protestors will only continue to manifest. Charlottesville will not be a one time thing. The lack of education accompanied by the even lesser chance of repercussions and government intervention allow impressionable young white boys to adopt these extremist ideals.

If you asked me if something like Charlottesville would happen again, I would, without hesitation, reply, “Absolutely.” There just has been no significant repercussions for the violent actions of these extremist groups. That in itself is a message letting them know that what they are doing and saying is okay. Silence and passivity will only serve to provide them with even more confidence and bravery.
deviouseggplant24
US
Posts: 8

Who is the “we” and who is the “they”?

After watching the VICE video, I was in absolute disgust. I can't believe how people can have such racist beliefs and still not understand how they're in the wrong. The white supremacists think they are meant to have all the power in America, just like they did during slave times. The more America moves towards equality, the further America moves away from what white supremacists want America to be. They are threatened by the change, and feel they will lose the power they "deserve". It was horrible to hear them say they don't understand why others are so resistant, and that it is the way America was "meant to be". It was courageous of the anti-white supremacy protestors to show up, and I admire their determination to fight for equality. They were aware that violence was a real potential, which is why not many were surprised when the car purposefully drove into the crowd of protestors. Sadly, as America progresses towards anti-racism, events like these could potentially become more common. The white supremacists will feel more and more threatened, and impulsively act out, just like they did at the capital raid. It was terrible to listen to the way the white supremacists talked about the "others". Calling them animals and beasts, saying they're unsurprised they couldn't get out of the cars away in time and it was their fault they were injured. I had never heard of what took place in Charlottesville in 2017, and although it is tragic, I enjoyed being reminded how far America is from perfection.

ToyotaCorolla
Boston, US
Posts: 10

ho is the We and Who is the They

The events in Charlottesville were emblematic of a growing problem in America that has become more prominent than ever: political polarization. The idea of radical extremists on other sides is not a new thing. As long as politics have been a thing, there have been political radicals. However, this polarization among the masses hasn't really existed to such a degree since probably the civil war. The Cold War definitely had its moments of polarized politics like McCarthyism and the Red Scare, but that was on a smaller scale. Either way, Charlottesville was one of the first examples of this wave of polarization.

In my mind, there are two main reasons that we are becoming more polarized, which are somewhat tied to each other. The influence of both mainstream and social media (especially the selective nature of it) are what seems to make up the stage for this polarization. Both allow for people to project whatever ideas they have into an open space, and with social media especially, receive only positive reinforcement back. If people see an idea on Fox News and then post that to their Facebook group of like-minded people, they will likely only be met with positive reactions. This echo chamber allows for people to become more and more isolated from the "other side", which leads to them viewing those opposing ideas as more foreign and worse. The ability for people to find these similar-thinking people also means that all of the extremists have much easier methods of communication and connectedness to those sharing their ideals, as can be seen by the multiple different social media groups or chats mentioned in the documentary. These people are seeing more confirmation in their ideas, making them feel more validated for having them and believing that they are normal, or at least somewhat more acceptable. This makes them more confident to do things like Charlottesville and January 6.

As for the last question, I would be surprised if something worse than January 6 doesn't happen. There does not seem to be that harsh of a punishment for things like a legitimate attempt at overthrowing the country. This makes people even more confident that they can do something like January 6 and get off way easier than they should. This combined with echo chamber social media and politically polarized news means that it will likely get worse before it gets better. A global pandemic that killed millions didn't help people band together, and instead became a political talking point just like all the others.

BurntGrilledCheese
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

The driving factor of the Charlottesville riots was fear. These white supremacist men are afraid of loosing the power they hold above everyone else, and the only way for them to feel secure about themselves was to strike fear into everyone else in an attempt to push themselves up and everyone else down. Public figures like Trump only help increase these movements, because they make them feel seen, and confident that they can perform these kinds of violent actions because they will be supported or at least not prosecuted by the government. And that is exactly what happened. Movements like Black Lives Matter have only grown in recent years, and have seen increasing public support. This, as well as the exposure of the experiences and voices of minorities has eroded the power of white men.

These white supremacist groups and many others like them, as well as individuals with similar hateful beliefs were the ones at the Capitol building on January 6th. Events like what happened in Charlottesville only made these groups more visible and more confident, directly leading to the insurrection. I absolutely believe something January 6th, or worse, could happen again. As Trump has become the leader and figurehead of the Republican party, its representatives more and more resemble his ideas, gaining larger and larger portions of the government. Those who oppose him or condemn him, such as Liz Cheney, face ostracism and person attack. The more public officials we have who espouse these views, and more and more these groups will grow among the general population and will feel more and more comfortable committing these attacks. Politics have become more and more polarized, and continue to do so, fueled by social media and confirmation bias, and issues like Covid-19 and climate change. This polarization only fuels itself.

This week is banned books week, something I find important to bring up because recently the censorship of books in schools, especially written by or portraying the stories of minority groups, has increased across the country. This is accompanied by restrictions on how and what teachers are allowed teach, especially when it comes to history as well as social issues. Social Emotional Learning, which teaches kids important skills like empathy and emotional regulation, has become especially targeted by Republican backed-laws. The less we allow young people to learn how to connect and empathize with others who may not have their same experiences, or keep them away from important historical events the less of a chance we have at quelling these hateful ideas, and the more likely events like the Charlottesville riots become.

BurntGrilledCheese
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

Originally posted by ToyotaCorolla on September 29, 2022 20:34

The events in Charlottesville were emblematic of a growing problem in America that has become more prominent than ever: political polarization. The idea of radical extremists on other sides is not a new thing. As long as politics have been a thing, there have been political radicals. However, this polarization among the masses hasn't really existed to such a degree since probably the civil war. The Cold War definitely had its moments of polarized politics like McCarthyism and the Red Scare, but that was on a smaller scale. Either way, Charlottesville was one of the first examples of this wave of polarization.

In my mind, there are two main reasons that we are becoming more polarized, which are somewhat tied to each other. The influence of both mainstream and social media (especially the selective nature of it) are what seems to make up the stage for this polarization. Both allow for people to project whatever ideas they have into an open space, and with social media especially, receive only positive reinforcement back. If people see an idea on Fox News and then post that to their Facebook group of like-minded people, they will likely only be met with positive reactions. This echo chamber allows for people to become more and more isolated from the "other side", which leads to them viewing those opposing ideas as more foreign and worse. The ability for people to find these similar-thinking people also means that all of the extremists have much easier methods of communication and connectedness to those sharing their ideals, as can be seen by the multiple different social media groups or chats mentioned in the documentary. These people are seeing more confirmation in their ideas, making them feel more validated for having them and believing that they are normal, or at least somewhat more acceptable. This makes them more confident to do things like Charlottesville and January 6.

As for the last question, I would be surprised if something worse than January 6 doesn't happen. There does not seem to be that harsh of a punishment for things like a legitimate attempt at overthrowing the country. This makes people even more confident that they can do something like January 6 and get off way easier than they should. This combined with echo chamber social media and politically polarized news means that it will likely get worse before it gets better. A global pandemic that killed millions didn't help people band together, and instead became a political talking point just like all the others.

I definitely agree with your point about the echo chamber of social media. Confirmation bias not only prevents access and exposure to opposing ideas, but I also think it makes it harder for different sides of an argument to understand where the other is coming from or be able to effectively explain and even convince the other of their own argument. This may not apply while to supremacist groups since there is likely little you could say or do to change their mind, but there are still plenty of issues where by at least trying to understand why the other side believes what they believe, even if you completely disagree with it, you can better explain your own argument in a way more likely to convince them of why what they believe may be hurtful. Otherwise you just end up arguing at each other which is ineffective and only leads to more polarization and less ability to see the humanity in the other side. I remember in 8th grade we watched a Ted Talk by a black man who attended KKK meetings. He would just go and watch. Over time many of those he encountered left the group because just by meeting him they changed their minds by merely humanizing the issue. It is never easy to make someone see why what they believe is discriminatory and extremely damaging, but by at least understanding where these ideas come from, and using that information to target them, we can better dismantle them.

someepiphany
Posts: 9

The reason that the Charlottesville and Capitol riots happened was likely due to the fact that the participants could see that change was coming in the country and these mostly white men were afraid of that change. Due to systematic racism and sexism, cis straight white men have usually been the only individuals in power throughout our nation’s history, and the very idea that someone else might get more of a say in how our country is run than they had before (likely none to very little say) rocked their view of the world. They didn’t perceive the privilege of being a white man in our society, and instead felt “victimized” and held racist ideologies. Feeling empowered by the conservative administration of 2017 and the fact that during the Charlottesville incident, the police barely intervened, they felt more comfortable spreading their rhetoric and violence on January 6th. It would not surprise me if this hateful thinking continues to develop in the future, likely spreading through the internet, targeting young people. The fact that there are people currently in positions of legal power that these groups find to support their vile organizations is a concern in itself when considering whether or not disturbing events like the January 6th riot could happen again.

princess
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

The violence present in Charlottesville and other pro-white rallies is derived from deep rooted hate. People all around the country are engrained with racist, white superiority ideals and I feel that social media has only made matters worse. As seen in the film people are connected in a virtual manner through apps like Facebook, and willingly support radical ways of thinking because they are being encouraged by others. I truly feel these perpetrators or other people with a white superiority complex are just so uneducated about the history of America. They are brainwashed and come with elaborate means to justify their unjustifiable actions and beliefs. Due to the fact they think they are so right, they take it upon themselves to organize these events where they try to instill fear and eventually inflict violence on others that oppose them. Considering how the police hardly interfere enough, they feel as if they are accepted and have free entry and exit with no consequences. This behavior is absurd to me especially because I contrast it to the police presence at various BLM protests and they have no issue shutting down and incarcerating protesters. Also mentioned in the film is the group's appreciation for politicians like Trump who never really directly acknowledge their behavior as bad or called it how it is. Hearing leaders saying slogans like "lets make America great again" while also saying very questionable racist things, gives radical pro-white groups the green light to their beliefs and to wanna have an "ethnic cleansing of America". I definitely can see more events like this happening again just because of how ignorant a lot of people are in society. The world, let alone America seems to always have division. The system is built to harm POC and these ideals of white supremacy continue to be ingrained in the minds of citizens. Our history creates a ripple effect and although we may view our world as better than the times of the civil rights movement or even slavery when you really take note, you can see we haven't gone much closer to equity in America.

mustardspider
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 7

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

On the surface, white nationalists gathered in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017 to protest the removal of a Confederate statue, but the fear and hatred truly motivating this rally runs far deeper than simply a symbolic monument. The United States was built upon racist ideologies, prioritizing the rights of white men. This racism became entrenched in our political and social systems and is still prevalent three and a half centuries later. Over time, however, we have begun to fight this inequitable power distribution, empowering the disadvantaged and removing the inherently bigoted systems that appear across our society. This means, however, that the previously-empowered white America is losing its natural-born privilege, something which angers and scares a large group of "nationalists." This fear has only grown and runs as a smooth undercurrent within white communities. Charlottesville was the location of one of the first and largest unifications of these groups, with Neo-Nazis, the KKK, and members of other fringe groups in attendance. When interviewed, many expressed pride in the turn-out; they felt it proved that they were more than a small internet presence. The size of this protest proves the possibility of large-scale organization between these formerly-small and ineffective groups, opening up the possibility of similar protests in the future; we see them violently emerge again in large numbers outside the capitol building on January 6, 2021.

The hatred fueling these protesters runs deep, shaped by a lifetime of propaganda from their environment and from the internet. They take this bigoted ideology and invest it into the protestation of forward-progress. This hatred cannot be contained, and often explodes into violence and fighting. The phenomenon of protests in Charlottesville and outside the capital can be described as an increasing polarization within this country and a sharp decrease in bi-partisanship. Propaganda spreads like wildfire on the internet, and people quickly become blocked off from the other side of the aisle. They quickly fall into a rabbit-hole of information, spiraling into extremism and expressing themselves through violence.

I believe that, yes, something similar to Charlottesville and January 6th can and will happen again. The hatred and fear fueling these events hasn't diminished with Trump's exit from office; if anything, it's increased. As long as we continue to make forward progress in repealing the systems that keep non-white groups at a disadvantage, there will always be a group of proud racists, fighting their loss of privilege by whatever means necessary.

I think hollyfawn's point that Northerners tend to think we are immune to racism is notable. Many believe that, just because we were above the Mason-Dixon line, we are completely innocent. We use the South as a scapegoat for this country's problems, believing ourselves to be blame-free in the systemic oppression of non-white communities. It allows us to reject responsibility and lead an easy, and guilt-free life, one in which we do nothing to fight oppression and systematic barriers.

I agree with tiktok1234's point that people's views on topics have become stronger recently. People are able to fall into pipelines of false and extreme information, and critical thinking has largely disappeared from the political world. Groups will simply "preach to the choir" and followers only become more deeply entrenched in their beliefs.

i_love_pink
US
Posts: 6
What occurred in CharlottesVille was bound to happen, racists ideologies were gradually growing and all that was needed was one person to speak out to catch the attention of others. I know that in today's world there are still people who believe one race is superior to others, but it's still shocking hearing their point of views and the way they've seen the world their whole lives. In the VICE video, one of the white men opened up about his political views and stated, “I’m here to spread ideas, talk, in the hopes that somebody more capable [of violence] will come along and do that. Somebody like Donald Trump...” I think this just goes to show how the white supremscist thought they were doing something beneficial, they thought they were working for or doing Trump a favor. I also think it's interesting how Trump’s motto was “Make America Great Again” but this nation was never truly great, it was built upon racism. The ideas in the constitution only applies to white cis-gendered straight males. The U.S is seen as a place where one could seek liberty and justice but I dont think this nation has ever reflected its morals and I doubt that it will any time soon. No one with enough power will try to prevent acts like these from happening in fear of loosing power, much like how the neo-Nazi protester were fearing. An act like this will happen again and it will probably happen with more violence each time as both sides are reinforcing their ideas trying to get the other to listen. The police play a huge role in this, white policemen saw the violence on part of the white supremiscts but did nothing. But in protests that were actually peaceful, like the Black Lives Matter movement, they decided they were the ones that were a danger to others.
Twilightsparkle22
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

"We" vs. "They"

Throughout time white men have been told that they are superior over other human beings. Now, as equality is a much more valued priority in our society, white supremacists fear that they are losing their power. At one of the gatherings in the documentary, the crowd of white supremacists was chanting that immigrants are taking their jobs and "white lives matter". I was utterly disgusted by this behavior. Especially with social media, this shared hatred and fear among white supremacists is creating groups that can organize gatherings like we saw in the video, and it's really scary. After watching the story by Elle Reeve, I was shocked that these white men, who had probably never been discriminated against, felt so oppressed that they were willing to get into these violent fights. To me, it's so hypocritical that these men feel so threatened by the Black Lives Matter movement and other movements for equality. These people have gotten used to being treated better in society, that when everyone is being treated equally, the loss of their privilege makes them feel underprivileged. Others in these white supremacist groups simply just want to voice their racist beliefs. Whatever their reason for participating in these events, the people involved have had a huge impact. Not only have their actions killed and injured several people, but what happened in Charlottesville definitely set the stage for more events like this, like January 6th. I think that there is a very strong possibility that something like what happened in Charlottesville and January 6th could happen again, and it could be a lot worse and a lot more dangerous. These white supremacist and neo-nazi have a lot of influence online, as well as a lot of support from all over the country, and those that participate in these violent events rarely face punishment or even interference by the police.

The "we" vs. "they" way of thinking is really interesting because as people who fight for equality and see white supremacists and neo-nazis as the "they" that we are against, they think the same of us. I think that a part of what's driving white supremacists to organize these events is that they feel like they are losing their territory and dominance, and in this battle they have to fight back. And I guess in their eyes, they think that they are fighting to not only be equal (which they still have a lot of privilege) but to win over everyone. White people weren't even the first people to live in America, yet white supremacists view this issue as fighting for their homeland.

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