On Saturday, 12th of August, Charlottesville was engulfed with acts of violence and chaos carried out under the banner of the torchlight procession of “Unite the Right” rally held by the white nationalists and supremacists. It was meant to be a symbolic gathering resonating the spirit of other similar rallies like Hitler Youth etc., that have been carried out over the past centuries. Little was it foreseen that this march would serve as a catalyst for the upcoming hours of terror, instigating racism, hatred, violence, and even death.
It all started on Friday night, when a few hundred white nationalists, mostly male, along with neo-Nazi’s and Ku Klux Klan members, came together to become part of one of the biggest marches of its kind, unified under the banner of “taking America back!”, and proudly chanting the Nazi slogans. They proceeded towards the statue of Thomas Jefferson, where they attacked a group of counter-protesters, whose very presence there was an act of defiance against the white supremacists.
Thereafter, on Saturday morning, the white supremacists gathered in McIntire Park, openly flashing their Nazi flags and Swastika signs. However, as their numbers grew, so did the counter-protesters who had come out to openly condemn the racism, fascism, and bigotry that was being propagated. On the reluctance of the local police to interfere, violence broke out between the two opposing parties, dispersing the rally. As the counter-protesters ran towards the adjacent streets, a white supremacist named James Alex Fields, drove his car into the alley, hitting the counter-protester pedestrians and ended up killing a 32-year-old woman and wounding nineteen individuals on the street. James was arrested and charged with his crime that day, along with three other men who were also seen to be involved in the ongoing violence.
In actuality, this was not the first white supremacist rally that has been held in the city of Charlottesville and it probably won’t be the final one. This recent clash in Charlottesville has essentially become a touchstone in America’s long-running debate over free speech, racism, and violence.
Moreover, when the nation looked to its president to step up and condemn these recent acts of terror, America was first met with silence on Donald Trump’s behalf and then received a statement on Tuesday where he essentially defended the white supremacist nationals and that “both sides were to blame” for the white supremacist march, relinquishing his earlier stance that emphasized the culpability of the organizing party.
In the aftermath of this heinous rally, a popular reaction that arose from a great many white liberals was that this rally does not define or represent all Americans and they openly condemned the hateful acts of the white supremacists. This eventually circulated a movement under the hashtag #ThisIsNotUs, emphasizing that whatever happened in Charlottesville does not represent the ‘real’ America.
However, amidst the few strands of positivity elicited by the solidarity shown by the good liberals, it does not change the growing prevalence of the white supremacy ideology - originating in Nazi Germany - which is heavily rooted in the very building blocks of American culture. The events of Charlottesville is, unfortunately, the direction this nation is leaning towards and will continue to do so in the future, if not on a worse scale. Hence, the only way to somehow change this is if Americans, as a nation, confront their traditional underlying belief systems, soaked with racism and violence and actively work towards breaking these systems in order to attain a more tolerant and accepting tomorrow.