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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.

FlyingCelestialDragon
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 7

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

The protest in Charlottesville was a shock to the people all over the state. The reason behind this isn't very clear but we can infer from the information that we have. For me, I think this happened because there were many people planning to do something like this and Charlottesville was just a place that they chose to do it. As seen from the video, there were gangs and groups of people having white supremacists mindsets. But the media and people thought it was only a minority group and did not think much of it. Because of this, the group was able to advance their plans which led to the protest at Charlottesville. What this portends for the future is that these types of things could happen anytime in the future again. The incident at Charlottesville was able to occur with people planning for it, which means this could happen again, because there could be other people planning to do the same but waiting for the right moment to do it.

How we can describe the phenomenon that is at work in Charlottesville is scary and unexpected. From what we know, Charlottesville has always been a quiet and peaceful area. But suddenly there's this protest where people are violent towards each other. It seems out of the blue and planned out by someone. Different folks that were protesting there were motivated by the idea of white supremacy and that they are the superior race. They probably see the world as revolving around them and that they stood on top of it, above everything.

I think that something like this or worse than January 6, 2021 could happen again, because each time the police were present but they did not do anything to stop this. This tells the group of violent people that it is okay with what they are doing and that they are protected. Therefore they would probably want to do this again. But if the police intervened and stopped it, the people would know that there's a limit with what they are doing.

Snailaligator
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

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

The supposed reason for the Charlottesville protest was to fight against the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, however, in hindsight (as well as before the event) it is extremely clear that this was not the main intention at all. The main intention seemed to be sending a message that these extremist groups were more than simply a few individuals communicating over the internet, and that they could demonstrate a physical presence. Hundreds of Neo-Nazi white-supremecists came to Charlottesville inciting violence that killed one person and injured countless. This set a precedent for future violent protests from extremist groups because very few were charged for any of the crimes they committed, and even the president at the time did not lay any substantial responsibility on the assailants.

I would describe what happened as a congregation of people that are all connected by a sort of mental parasite that works on them on an individual level. I think that these people are motivated by the sense of purpose it gives them in their lives. Similar to people who might have a strong belief in a conspiracy such as flat earth or QAnon, in a general sense this belief gives them an answer to their question of why they are alive. Long story short, it makes them feel special. I think this is the real foundation of why these groups become so dangerous and seemingly impossible to reason with. These beliefs and fights become so integrated in extremists’ lives and their identities because it offers them the comfort of having a greater purpose. There is a lot of discussion of how fear plays a role in these events and I think that fear is the driving force pushing people to commit these atrocious acts of violence. In some sense as I stated earlier I believe it is in part due to a fear of death and not having some greater meaning to one’s life, and I think that a large part of why these groups remain so strong is a fear of humility. Once they’ve been in an organization for several years to admit that everything they’ve lived their life by during that time has been “wrong” is too humiliating for most people to do even if it costs living in a more realistic narrative.

I definitely believe that something similar to or worse than Charlottesville and January 6 could very likely happen again. There have not been enough repercussions to the violent behavior of these extremist groups, so I highly doubt that many of them are discouraged from organizing more violent events.

ilovesharks44
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 9

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

I don’t think that there is any definitive reason that so many of these people decided to organize in this area, but I do think that they were trying to use the guise of protesting a statue removal in order to get initial approval to gather and take their views off of the internet. This first violent protest by white supremacists and Neo-Nazis set the stage for the insurrection which occurred on January 6th. Because most of these people faced little to no consequences for their violent actions, they thought of it as ‘within their rights’ to commit an act of terrorism at the capitol. The pattern of little to no consequences only fuels the boldness of those who would otherwise keep their actions confined to an online/private setting. I think that Charlottesville was the boiling point which allowed for many similar events to occur.


The phenomenon of what was going on in Charlottesville can only be described as alarming. The fact that our nation not only has polarized this far but also descended to acts of political terrorism is extremely alarming, especially due to the fact that they are being committed by people in the 21st century who are holding onto ideas that would’ve seemed outrageous even 50 years ago. One quote that I found extremely alarming was when one of the protesters said "of course we're capable of violence ... I'm trying to make myself more capable of violence" (3:40). The mindset that all of these actions must be violent is extremely troubling because it makes it abundantly clear that many of these people would rather physically fight than do anything with any reason. I don't believe that this is in any way constructive, and is one of the reasons why these situations escalate so easily. The white supremacists and Neo Nazis who participated in this event are fueled by a fear that they are being replaced. They think that their superiority is being threatened and they feel that it is their duty to defend themselves by targeting and projecting hate onto everyone else.


I think that something like January 6th definitely can and will happen again. If these things happened when/ closely after a president they supported was in office, their feelings of hatred and fear will most likely grow stronger as they grow even more unsatisfied with current leadership. Not only this, but the lack of repercussions has led many of these people to believe that they are untouchable and won't ever have to face consequences for their actions.

SillyGoblinMan178
Brighton, MA, US
Posts: 10

The timeline of events that ultimately triggered Charlottesville starts even before the Trump administration came to power. Before the 2016 elections, there was a general feeling of dissatisfaction with Neo-Liberal leadership that had governed the country for the past 20 odd years among the general public. Trump was able to use populist/fascist rhetoric to sway enough people (in the Electoral College) to vote for him. His use of fascist rhetoric (i.e. "build the wall") throughout his presidency emboldened preexisting, fringe Neo-Nazi groups to become more public in their recruitment and beliefs. All the tension that this rhetoric brought was finally released at Charlottesville, where hundreds of Neo-Nazis, now finally able to go public with their beliefs, assaulted random people and anti fascist counter protesters. This set a dangerous precedent for the future, as now fascist groups could openly recruit and wouldn't have to worry about police presence, as the cops were utterly useless during Charlottesville (not out of the ordinary, but what makes this different is that this was the first time these groups were properly exposed to this fact). The phenomenon at work at Charlottesville is a Nazi reactionary movement suddenly gaining support from the highest office of power in the world, and using that newfound power to go on a hate-fueled rampage. The people rioting at Charlottesville were either seemingly normal people who scrolled on message boards in their spare time and eventually fell down the 8chan rabbit hole, or people with a criminal record who joined a race gang for protection and got involved with Neo-Nazi groups when they got out. As long as there are people with power galvanizing these groups, then there is always the possibility that something worse will happen.

autumnpeaches
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 10

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

The protest in Charlottesville showed many Neo-Nazis and white supremacists that there's nothing to be afraid of because the police aren't exactly doing their job. The whole point of the protest was about a Confederate leader's statue, but we all know it's more than that. It's similar to how some people say the Civil War wasn't about "slavery" but about "states' rights". But it all comes down to the question: the states' rights to do what exactly? It's the same with this protest. It was about the Confederate statue, but white supremacists have obviously banded together to assault people, commit hate crimes, and spread their racist ideology. If this has happened once, then it could definitely happen again. Once they see that there are no repercussions for their actions, these people will, again and again, repeat what happened in Charlottesville. It doesn't help that our former President, Donald Trump, said that both sides were to blame and that he's "not just talking about the neo-nazis and white nationalists" but the "other group" as well. He was then praised by said "neo-nazis and white nationalists" for this comment. When you are supported by literal assaulters and racists, then you know something is wrong.

palmtreepuppy
Posts: 7

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

  • In my opinion this is happening because this country is now harboring an environment in which that this type of behavior is starting to unfortunately become more normalized. Aside from this level and degree of hate is perpetual and officials and law enforcement in some cases are allowing such a thing to go on with a lap on the wrist and in some cases completely unchecked. Personally I think that it did portend what was to come on not just on January 6th but for many other crimes to happen. One case of this would be Kyle Rittenhouse, someone who saw himself as a vigilante and needed to “purify” the country. I don't think that what occurred in Charlottesville or anyone could’ve predicted what happened at the Capitol on January 6th but it definitely opened the door for people and the mindset to challenge authority in that manner. That door was opened by not just the Neo-Nazis and white supracist who participated in the attack but also the police officers and other poeple who let this happen. This goes all the way up to lawmakers and up to the president at the time, Donald Trump who let this all just get swept under the rug. The phenomenon that was behind the bloodbath of Charlottesville would be as plain and simple as it gets, hate for “the other''. This includes, but isnt limited to, white sumpersitst, Neo-Nazis and other people who wanted purity of America. The motivation behind this all is not being able to accept the fact that there are other people in America other than just straight, white, christian men in this country and that there will be people different than what certain people want. To me, they see the world that way because to them it is too hard to understand and digest the fact that this country is made off of the backs of immigrants, black bodies and many other people and that such people will be living in this country. I think that something like this and quite honestly worse than this, could potentially happen again. As scary as it is to think that, the precedent has been fact and there are still some people in this country that feel like they still haven't gotten the “justice” that they “deserve” and will stop at nothing to get it. I also feel like the fact that we are regressing in time and moving backwards into a time when racism and lack of proper education is giving these types of people the air time that they want to get their message across and out to young, impressionable people. I also think that social media has aided this process. Overall, yes, something like this could happen as this country has now allowed the idea of white supremacy being okay to happen.
Martha $tewart
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 8

Who is the We and Who is the They?

Events like the one in Charlottesville are happening because people like to feel powerful and they want everyone to share the same beliefs as they do. Like Snailaligator said, the intention of the protesters had little to do with the statue and was more about proving that they could inspire violence and fear. I think that everyone should be entitled to their own opinions, but there’s a line you can cross between different beliefs and harmful beliefs. Neo-Nazis cross that line. But it wasn’t just the protesters that allowed this event to take place. The lack of police interference probably solidified the idea of security into white-supremists minds and made them think they were protected to hold their rallies in the future. I also agree with palmtreepuppy that the former president and other leaders did not do enough to address the situation. There is a lot of injustice in our society, a lot of people feel that someone or some group has done them wrong, so they find comfort in the extremist groups that also feel that way. These groups feed off of people who are mentally unstable or who have been hurt. Every group has their own idea on how our government should work. The inability of our government to handle issues in a timely or correct manner makes people believe that they can get more done with violence. In my opinion, violence works but only short term, we need legislation to make real change.


A lot of the people in Charlottesville seemed to be white men from Southern states. Though we shouldn’t generalize a whole piece of our country, the South tends to be more Republican, sometimes extremely so. These people were most likely raised in an environment where it was acceptable to say racist and anti-semetic things. With movements like BLM growing, they probably felt threatened that the people they thought of as “below” them were gaining their rights (that they should have always had in the first place). I think that those in Charlottesville were inspired by supremist right wing groups before them, and unfortunately they paved the way for atrocities such as January 6th. In my opinion, they must not be very educated. They say they want to make America “pure”, or back to the way it used to be. In their mind that means white and Christian, when in reality they are not ethnically American unless they are native and the first white settlers were escaping Chrisitanity for their own religious freedom. I do not understand how anyone could use Nazi propaganda and share those ideals if they truly knew about the events of that time.


Unfortunately, I do think events like this could continue to happen. As long as people keep taking these actions, they will inspire more radicals to do the same. People who have very strong beliefs towards a certain side won’t stop until their goals are accomplished because they think that they are spreading the “truth” in some way. I think that it is impossible in today’s society to find a solution that makes everyone happy, and it is sad to think about the lengths people will go to harm others.

Juicy Burger
West Roxbury, MA, US
Posts: 12

Originally posted by autumnpeaches on September 29, 2022 15:12

The protest in Charlottesville showed many Neo-Nazis and white supremacists that there's nothing to be afraid of because the police aren't exactly doing their job. The whole point of the protest was about a Confederate leader's statue, but we all know it's more than that. It's similar to how some people say the Civil War wasn't about "slavery" but about "states' rights". But it all comes down to the question: the states' rights to do what exactly? It's the same with this protest. It was about the Confederate statue, but white supremacists have obviously banded together to assault people, commit hate crimes, and spread their racist ideology. If this has happened once, then it could definitely happen again. Once they see that there are no repercussions for their actions, these people will, again and again, repeat what happened in Charlottesville. It doesn't help that our former President, Donald Trump, said that both sides were to blame and that he's "not just talking about the neo-nazis and white nationalists" but the "other group" as well. He was then praised by said "neo-nazis and white nationalists" for this comment. When you are supported by literal assaulters and racists, then you know something is wrong.

Post your response here.

I really like your analysis on how this protest was not truly motivated by a confederate statue, and tying it with another historical issue. I think it is really insightful! Thank you

Juicy Burger
West Roxbury, MA, US
Posts: 12

Originally posted by Martha $tewart on September 29, 2022 19:10

Events like the one in Charlottesville are happening because people like to feel powerful and they want everyone to share the same beliefs as they do. Like Snailaligator said, the intention of the protesters had little to do with the statue and was more about proving that they could inspire violence and fear. I think that everyone should be entitled to their own opinions, but there’s a line you can cross between different beliefs and harmful beliefs. Neo-Nazis cross that line. But it wasn’t just the protesters that allowed this event to take place. The lack of police interference probably solidified the idea of security into white-supremists minds and made them think they were protected to hold their rallies in the future. I also agree with palmtreepuppy that the former president and other leaders did not do enough to address the situation. There is a lot of injustice in our society, a lot of people feel that someone or some group has done them wrong, so they find comfort in the extremist groups that also feel that way. These groups feed off of people who are mentally unstable or who have been hurt. Every group has their own idea on how our government should work. The inability of our government to handle issues in a timely or correct manner makes people believe that they can get more done with violence. In my opinion, violence works but only short term, we need legislation to make real change.


A lot of the people in Charlottesville seemed to be white men from Southern states. Though we shouldn’t generalize a whole piece of our country, the South tends to be more Republican, sometimes extremely so. These people were most likely raised in an environment where it was acceptable to say racist and anti-semetic things. With movements like BLM growing, they probably felt threatened that the people they thought of as “below” them were gaining their rights (that they should have always had in the first place). I think that those in Charlottesville were inspired by supremist right wing groups before them, and unfortunately they paved the way for atrocities such as January 6th. In my opinion, they must not be very educated. They say they want to make America “pure”, or back to the way it used to be. In their mind that means white and Christian, when in reality they are not ethnically American unless they are native and the first white settlers were escaping Chrisitanity for their own religious freedom. I do not understand how anyone could use Nazi propaganda and share those ideals if they truly knew about the events of that time.


Unfortunately, I do think events like this could continue to happen. As long as people keep taking these actions, they will inspire more radicals to do the same. People who have very strong beliefs towards a certain side won’t stop until their goals are accomplished because they think that they are spreading the “truth” in some way. I think that it is impossible in today’s society to find a solution that makes everyone happy, and it is sad to think about the lengths people will go to harm others.

Post your response here.


I think you are absolutely correct that extremists will feel under "attack" and choose violence. I was wondering why do you think America is so divided? And if no solution is possible, what should Americans best do or prepare for?

johndoe
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 7

Who is the We and Who is the They

This was happening because Neo-Nazi's want to attack people for their beliefs about equality and general rights. It was a warning that people will not stop to push their own agenda. We would describe it as cruel, heartbreaking, unprovoked, and undeserved. These people see the world in the way that they do because of a long history of racism and misogyny. something like this could definitely happen again, and it would be worse than what happened due to more radical thinking in recent years.

sand
Posts: 10

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

The events of Charlottesville happened because of white supremacy. They happened because the education system has failed Americans by allowing bigots to misrepresent history. They happened because police have shown they will not act against it. They happened because the most powerful man in the United States endorsed it by not outright condemning what really happened. They cast the veil of wanting to preserve the confederate statue over their true intentions. Intentions which lie behind the ideology of the confederacy; they believed in states rights, yes, but specifically in states rights to allow slavery, because they believed in white superiority. This is not something that can be denied as the president of the confederacy himself said that the notion of all races being equal was untrue, yet very few schools make their students aware of this. As a result of the perpetrators facing no ramifications for their actions, they are emboldened to continue as was seen on January 6th. The events of Charlottesville directly set the precedent for the Capitol riots that anything could happen, and they would be let off scot free.


I would describe the phenomenon that happened in Charlottesville as terrifying. Terrifying that the event itself happened, and terrifying that it caused so many other similar events. Racists openly saying they will not be replaced because they think themselves superior is so, so scary. They are motivated to commit these acts because they believe that they are “losing”. They are a prime example of equality feeling like oppression to the privileged. They are convinced that their whiteness entitles them to things, and throw tantrums when they don’t get it. Except these “tantrums” cause people to lose their lives. These “tantrums” cause irreversible pain. These “tantrums” cause lifelong and even generational traumas. These “tantrums” are not tantrums at all, because unlike children these are grown adults with an agenda of pure hate that they will self admittedly kill for.


There is no doubt in my mind that something worse than this and January 6th will happen. To the perpetrators of these events they are spectacles, and spectacles are made to “outdo” the last. In this context, it means even more sorrowful and gut wrenching crimes, on even larger scales.

green64
BOSTON, MA, US
Posts: 8

In large part, we are having these huge uprisings because of social media, while there have always been extremist views in America such as during WW2 when there were nazis sympathizers in congress. Social media has connected young impressionable men with these groups who have progressively become more mainstream. These right-wing groups send out videos that cover basic things that almost everybody would want/agree with leading people to look into the site or the person and passively become pushed further down the rabbit hole. Now it is so much easier than its ever been for this to happen because 20-plus years ago you would actually have to travel to these events to be indoctrinated. Your parent and others would be asking questions to attempt to push you in the right way but now you can do things from the comfort of your own room and by the time people find out it's too late. Once the ideas latch on everybody who disagrees with you is "communism" or "Antifa" so you are stuck without a way out. At this stage, you are just following whatever is said online and that is why we had a mass group of people show up in Charlottesville and January 6th.

I would describe it as social media it validates a feeling that they have had stuck deep down inside of them and uses that to control people.

I definitely think something like this could happen again. But I think I was watching a 60 minutes documentary on January 6th and it described the best thing that ever happened to these groups was Covid because people were stuck inside and left to scroll through Facebook all-day which had large numbers viewing their ideas leading to indoctrination. This is ironic because a large part of their main point was covid isn't real and we should go back outside in saying that they are actively taking their followers away from the screen they use to control them. So I think we probably have 1 or 2 years until we get another Charlottesville because the extremism will probably simmer down a bit due to less people being on social media.

Steely Gibbs
Posts: 10

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

This was happening because of the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue. It happened because they alt-right group needed a platform in a sense to act on everything. One of the nationalists talked about how the group was "more than atoms" or something along those lines. The group has been growing in size for years before hand and just needed a reason to manifest into a physical space. The removal of the statue was a perfect opportunity. It was a warning for the future because they gained the affirmation they needed. Seeing how many people would come out for these acts showed them that they could increase the scale.


The phenomenon happening in Charlottesville could be attributed to a cause/effect relationship. Both groups started for their own reasons, but they only increase because of what the other side did. The tiki torch walk was the start of it and the side against it didn't have enough people to stop the walk. This led to an increase in manpower for the BLM/anti-nazi side. The motivation comes from wanting to get rid of and tear down the opponent. Granted, it is put into different terms by either side. At the end of the video, the neo-nazi leader was talking about his side easing up on the restraint and showed this through the numerous guns he had on himself. They see the world because of their morals or ideologies.


I definitely think something like this could happen again. If it was able to happen in the midst of a pandemic, I don't see why it would all of a sudden change. However, I believe that there may be a difference in the response. Maybe the "defending" side for lack of a better term be more prepared for what's to come. I do hope that there will be a greater police presence to prevent things like the dodge charger incident.

bigbear
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 10

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

The events that occurred in Charlottesville are still something that is terrible 5 years later and will always be a terrible event in our history. Those white supremacists because they're stupid white people, and because they wanted to shape America the way they see fit, pretty much reverting back to the 18th and 19th centuries, when white people were on top. This could portend the future because it shows us that these people are starting to get bolder with their claims, and starting to try to take action, which is something we need to stop. But if the president doesn't do anything about it, these situations will continue to arise, and impact our society for the worse. We could describe the phenomenon as terrorism against certain groups of people, and a protest against America as they see it which makes no sense. The ideals that are motivating these people to do this is their belief that their race is the most supreme of them all, and should have the most power. Also, they see the different cultures in America as a force that is threatening their existence and diminishing their power as a whole, and something that they chant in rallies is "You will not replace us" so this quote shows us how they do these things out of fear of getting their power taken away from them. They see the world as they do because of their childhood and the different things around them. Most of the people in those rallies are probably from the southern states where the people are mostly republican. This is because of the way they grew up which taught them that the white race is the most superior race to them all, and the different things around them when they grew up that put white people on a pedestal kept imagining that as the way the world works, and only thought about that when seeing the world. Even though I don't want to believe it, I believe something will definitely occur in the future that is worse than January 6, 2021, because as more time passes they start to get more courageous with their movement, and if the scale of the rallies keeps going in the way it is going we can definetly see something worse occuring in the near future. This could also be due to the constant problems that America is facing so we don't have as much time to deal with the white supremecists as we would need so they have more time to gain more power.

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