Written by Gilbert Schramm Gilbert Schramm
Published: 26 August 2017 26 August 2017
In the wake of Charlottesville, Americans have been forced to confront racism. Sadly, the debate has quickly shifted focus from the killing of a young peace activist—Heather Heyer, to the rather symbolic issue of the many confederate statues around the nation. The white supremacist demonstration that led to her death was focused on the planned removal of one of these monuments to, and symbols of, America’s racist past.
Symbols are powerful things. I applaud the effort to remove these symbols of racism. It is a real tragedy, however, that this focus has taken precedence over opposition to the real thing—the real institutionalized structures that maintain racism in this country—and elsewhere. It seems to me that our law enforcement agencies are not focused on rolling up the racist criminal elements that committed the terrorist act that left Heather dead.
Make no mistake about this: the white supremacist organizers of the original rally in Charlottesville are preaching a kind of “Jihad” just as much as Islamist terrorist groups like ISIS are. Their stated objective is to start a race war to “cleanse” America of “foreign” elements. Previous terrorist acts like those in Orlando and San Bernardino were “lone wolf” attacks. There was no crowd of supporters preaching an Islamist jihad anywhere nearby. But if there had been, there would surely have been an effort to roll them up, arrest them, and try them as accomplices. Instead of taking similar actions against white supremacists in Charlottesville, there has been an immediate deflection to the issue of statues. Trump’s pardon of the racist Sherriff Joe Arpaio emphasizes the depth of the problem. All this is deeply disturbing.
President Trump’s actions have rightly shaken the nation. In one of the many incredibly racist tweets that composed his overall reaction, he noted the ‘importance of learning from history.’ Ironically, he then tweeted a false narrative about General Pershing’s behavior during the Moro War in the Philippines at the turn of the last century. This story has been thoroughly debunked (as is so often the case with Trump’s ideas about history).
In Trump’s lurid fiction, bullets were dipped in pig’s blood and then used to execute 49 out of 50 Muslim Moro people engaged in resisting US occupation. The lone survivor was allegedly sent home to take the message of the massacre back to his people. The result, according to Trump, was 25 (or in a later retelling 35) years of “peace.”
The story has been thoroughly debunked—though it must be noted that the behavior of the US troops in the Moro War was appalling in the extreme. But it is highly indicative of the present problem. It is relevant because it reveals Trump’s mindset—a mindset where horrific brutality leads to a cessation of resistance.
Read more: Of Pig’s Blood and Presidents: Charlottesville, Zionism and Real Resistance to Racism