Friday, August 25, 2017

Part 11 - Echoes Of History: 1955 And 2017

In Part 1, I discussed the murder of Emmett Till, the exoneration of his murderers, and the tactics used by the racists of 1955 Mississippi to try to discredit both the NAACP and the entire trial. Efforts went so far as to suggest Till had not been murdered at all but was in fact living in Detroit, part of an elaborate scheme by the NAACP to embarrass the South and discredit its traditions.

Fast forwarding 2017, it is apparent that not much has changed in the racist camp, now known as 'White Nationalists'or the'alt.right', euphemisms that do little to obscure what they really are. Following the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, that became abundantly clear.

There was, of course, the now infamous press conference by Donald Trump which seemed to use the time-honoured, disingenous and quite cowardly tactic of arguing for a moral equivalency between the swastika-bearing white supremacists and the many who showed up to oppose them.
"What about the 'alt-left' that came charging at, as you say, the 'alt-right,' do they have any semblance of guilt?" Trump asked. "What about the fact they came charging with clubs in hands, swinging clubs, do they have any problem? I think they do."

He added: "You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. nobody wants to say it, but I will say it right now."
From the never subtle or nuanced Trump, it was an obvious and rather pathetic display of his leanings. Other efforts can sometimes be more subtle. And that subtlety often comes in the form of presenting the racists as victims of intolerance and 'liberal' hypocrisy rather than as perpetrators of hatred. Consider, for example, two of the aggrieved memes circulating widely on the Internet:

Of course, racist strategy goes far beyond such memes. In the Charlottesville violence, the torch-bearing supremacists presented themselves as full-throated Americans marching in favour of free speech and the preservation of historical monuments, yet their real motives are clear to most. As Patrick Sisson recently wrote:
“The Charlottesville protesters revealed what we know to be true about these monuments: They are monuments to white supremacy, and the threat that we’ll tear them down is a threat to their ideology and movement.”
Those not certain of this need only to listen to the chants of Charlottesville 'protesters.'

Casting doubt on the veracity of events is also a time-honoured racist tactic. As noted in Part 1, there were dark hints that the NAACP had engineered the 'killing' of Emmett Till as a tactic to advance their cause. That very same approach was recently used by Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka who, in answering why his leader did not make any comments about the August mosque bombing in Minnesota, discussed Trump's need to have all the information about the bombing (a restraint he has never practised in attacks initiated by Muslims) before offering a public statement to ascertain it wasn't a "fake hate crime."
"We've had a series of crimes committed, alleged hate crimes, by right wing individuals in the last six months that turned out to actually have been propagated by the left," he said.
In Till's day, there were efforts to present the NAACP as a communist-infiltrated organization whose purpose was to upend American society. Efforts are also underway today to conflate those involved in clashes with the supremacists as hypocrites and violent thugs:

Then there was the shocking, disgusting Twitter post by Jason Kessler, the far-right activist who organized the Charlottesville march, to denigrate and slander the 32-year-old woman killed by a hate monger during the demonstration:
“Heather Heyer was a fat, disgusting Communist,” the post said. “Communists have killed 94 million. Looks like it was payback time.”
Or consider the smear campaign uncovered by the BBC:
Far-right activists are using fake Twitter accounts and images of battered women to smear anti-fascist groups in the US, an online investigation has revealed.

The online campaign is using fake Antifa (an umbrella term for anti-fascist protestors) Twitter accounts to claim anti-fascists promote physically abusing women who support US President Donald Trump or white supremacy.

One image shows the slogan "53% of white women voted for Trump, 53% of white women should look like this", above a photograph of a woman with a bruised and cut face and an anti-fascist symbol.

The woman pictured is actually British actress Anna Friel and the photograph was taken for a Women's Aid anti-domestic violence campaign in 2007.

How about this one, another picture promoted on a false Twitter account:

This is the kind of post that could go on almost ad infinitum with examples of racist strategies. Rather than prolong it, I will recommend that you check out two articles that are quite instructive: Michael Coren's recent article, Lessons on how to confront fascists, and How I Became Fake News, Brennan Gilmore's account of what happened to him after he posted his video of the car heading toward and killing Heather Heyer.

But I will close now with the hope that people will be more critical in their thinking and not let their biases blind them to such basic tasks as checking the bona fides of news sites, especially those that abound on the Internet, go to multiple legitimate sources of information, not fall down the rabbit hole of mindless conspiracy theories and, most importantly, use the brains they were born with to constantly assess and reassess the best approximations of the truth we can have in this life.

Oh, and just one more thing. Lest we feel smug and think racism and discrimination are things that afflict only our southern neighbour, this disquieting video from Manitoba should be a source of shame for all Canadians:


  1. This post, these images, the video are why the term "heavy heart" was coined. I don't feel angry but dispirited that the spirit of Western civilization should be so easily discarded by those who would revive our darkest moments and basest instincts. I wish there was some switch that would simply turn this off.

    1. There is so much in our human history that we cannot be proud of, Mound. Like you, I wish it were otherwise.