Regarding Charlottesville and White Supremacy

The Women’s Liberation Front abhors and condemns the white supremacist, Confederate- and Nazi-inspired violence on chilling display in Charlottesville, NC, last weekend. We are horrified that this brutality and its racist roots have not been unequivocally denounced by every elected official in the United States.

We mourn our sister, Heather Heyer, murdered in cold blood by an admirer of the Nazi regime of the Third Reich. We wish for the speedy recovery of the 19 other victims injured by her killer’s car when he deliberately plowed into a crowd of anti-racist protesters. The killer had been previously reported to the police for beating his own mother; a past of violence against women and girls is a common pattern with men of all political stripes who commit acts of mass public violence. We would urge law enforcement to consider the frequency with which men who terrorize the public with deadly violence have previously terrorized women in their own households and close relationships, and to begin to treat the abuse of women and girls as a serious crime and future threat indicator.

We mourn the injuries of our brother, Deandre Harris, chased and beaten by white supremacists because of his dark skin. The shamelessness of his attackers was its own message, and many of us saw it clearly. They meant to hurt Harris. They meant to terrorize every black person, every person of color, who heard the news of their brazen, unjustified assault.

Our condolences to all of the victims of this hate, and to their families, including those who were attacked but were afraid to report.

We also mourn the resurgence of anti-Semitism, on full display in the intimidation of a synagogue in Charlottesville, and increasing across the political spectrum over the past year. We are aware that white supremacist mythology holds a unique place for Jewish people – describing them as a rival race to those considered true Aryans – as puppet masters using racial and gay liberation, feminism, popular media, and ecumenical tolerance, as a weapon against white nationalism. Fantastic tales about international Jewish conspiracies are used to cover the holes in white supremacist mythology; how else to explain away the political and social advancement of women, so-called “degenerates,” and racialized others, in spite of white supremacist claims about the inferiority of these groups of people.  We reject and condemn the idea that our sisters and brothers of any racial or ethnic group, or any group of women or same-sex attracted people, are content in oppression, or could be presumed incapable of leading their own, independent struggle for liberation. We reject and condemn every aspect of this deadly, ancient slander against our Jewish sisters and brothers.

These many overlapping, interlinked prejudices and bigotries lead to atrocities every time they are tolerated or empowered by the state and the public.

There was a time not very long ago in the United States when white people wore their Sunday best and smiled for photographs in front of the corpses of the black citizens they had come to see lynched, with the murderers standing proudly by. There was a time not very long ago when any person of color, any black American who dared to vote during Jim Crow or found themselves in the wrong place after sundown in any state, any civil rights supporter, could be killed by white supremacists to maintain the dominance of white people, especially white men, over every other citizen of the United States. White judges and juries would refuse to hold any of the perpetrators to account, if they were even arrested in the first place, making entire white communities accessories after the fact to these egregious acts of terrorism.

There was a time not long ago when black communities that became prosperous could be razed to the ground by jealous white neighbors, followed by neither accountability nor victim compensation. Sometimes this was justified by flimsy pretexts for white supremacist looting and rioting. Sometimes the same result was effected through respectable arguments for “urban renewal.”

It would be intolerable to go back to that state of affairs, and it has never seemed more possible for those terrible times to return.

That the flashpoint of these protests has been a defense of monuments to the cause of black enslavement adds an extra layer of horror to everything that’s happened. The institution of chattel slavery as practiced before the Civil War was a human rights horror show of mass kidnapping, unjust detention, rape, murder, theft, family destruction, child abuse, torture, denial of all civil and political rights, cultural genocide, and genocide by mass coerced impregnation. There is not one part of this history that should be a point of pride to anyone whose ancestors benefited from it, or who benefits from its proceeds, still.

We denounce white supremacist terrorism. We denounce every facet of the justification for it. We denounce the ideology of white and male domination of others. We urge all our fellow citizens to see the very real danger inherent in this moment and to take these provocations as a grave threat to the possibility of social peace or justice, and also to meet this threat with the bravery of peaceful resistance.