FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Against Ignoring the KKK

When a small number of heavily armed Ku Klux Klanners from North Carolina are given vast amounts of media attention for holding a rally here in Charlottesville, Va., on July 8th, I believe people opposed to violence and racism should go nowhere near them but in no way ignore them.

The inclination to ignore them and hope they’ll fade away into history like trials by ordeal or dueling is strong. Judging by popular social norms and their dwindling membership, the KKK seems to be on the way out. Why give them any attention that could help promote them?

Well, for one thing, violent racism is not on the way out if we’re judging by presidential elections, hate crimes, police crimes, the prison system, the choice of communities to run gas pipelines through, or many other factors. And the only way my comment on “social norms” in the previous paragraph makes any sense is if we write off the generally accepted bombing of seven dark-skinned Muslim nations as somehow non-racist.

So I’m in general agreement with those advocating keeping a distance from the Klan rally, though I’m opposed to police intimidation of activists, but I do not think staying home or trying to minimize the problem is the right approach. I’d like to see people who care about stopping racism and violence travel to Charlottesville on July 8th from far and wide. I’d like to see big rallies a good distance away from Justice Park. The choice of a church very nearby as a gathering place seems misguided.

Normally, I’d of course propose that a protest be as close as possible to its target, and that it be disciplined in its nonviolent approach. There are reasons that won’t work here:

1) Recent confrontations have made very clear that many anti-racism activists lack either discipline or nonviolence or both.

2) Teams of trained nonviolent interveners would be hard-pressed to prevent violent conflict.

3) A truly nonviolent approach toward people who believe they are taking a stand for justice as they perceive it is not a protest but an invitation.

Not long ago, in Texas, a group planned an anti-Muslim protest at a mosque. A violent anti-anti-Muslim crowd showed up. The Muslims from the mosque placed themselves between the two groups, asking their would-be defenders to leave, and then inviting the anti-Muslim demonstrators to join them at a restaurant to talk things over. They did so.

I’d like July 8th in Charlottesville to witness major demonstrations for nonviolence and an end to bigotry, racism, islamophobia, and anti-Semitism. I’d like these demonstrations to make some acknowledgement of the other two evils that Dr. Martin Luther King grouped with racism, namely extreme materialism and militarism — the latter, after all, being the reason Robert E. Lee’s statue still stands to be defended by racist rallies. Virginia has banned the removal of war monuments.

But I’d also like to see skilled mediators and others of good will and good heart extend an invitation to members of the KKK to come unarmed to discuss in small groups, without cameras or audiences, what it is that divides us. Might some of them recognize the humanity of those they scapegoat if some of us recognized the injustices they’ve faced or the unfairness they perceive in affirmative action or in the acceptability of “whites” only as a topic for insults, not as a source of pride in the manner permitted all other racial and ethnic groupings?

We live in a country that has made its biggest social project war, a country that has concentrated its wealth beyond medieval levels, a country that consequently experiences incredible levels of unnecessary suffering exacerbated by awareness of its unnecessity and unfairness. Yet what we have of social supports for education, training, healthcare, childcare, transportation, and income is distributed in non-universal, divisive manners that encourage us to fight among ourselves. The KKK members are not billionaires. They’re not living off the exploitation of workers or prisoners or pollution or war. They’ve just chosen a particularly harmful object for their blame, as compared with those who blame the Republicans or the Democrats or the media.

When the KKK members come to condemn us for seeking to remove a statue, we shouldn’t look down at them like grand generals astride monster-sized horses. We should welcome them to explain themselves without microphones or guns, person to person.

More articles by:

David Swanson wants you to declare peace at http://WorldBeyondWar.org  His new book is War No More: The Case for Abolition.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

April 23, 2019
Peter Belmont
The Monroe Doctrine is Back, and as the Latest US Attack on Cuba Shows, Its Purpose is to Serve the Neoliberal Order
David Schultz
The Mueller Report: Trump Too Inept to Obstruct Justice
Geoff Beckman
Crazy Uncle Joe and the Can’t We All Just Get Along Democrats
Medea Benjamin
Activists Protect DC Venezuelan Embassy from US-supported Coup
Patrick Cockburn
What Revolutionaries in the Middle East Have Learned Since the Arab Spring
Jim Goodman
Don’t Fall for the Hype of Free Trade Agreements
Lance Olsen
Climate and Forests: Land Managers Must Adapt, and Conservationists, Too
William Minter
The Coming Ebola Epidemic
Tony McKenna
Stephen King’s IT: a 2019 Retrospective
David Swanson
Pentagon Claims 1,100 High Schools Bar Recruiters; Peace Activists Offer $1,000 Award If Any Such School Can Be Found
Gary Olson
A Few Comments on the recent PBS Series: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War
April 22, 2019
Melvin Goodman
The NYTs Tries to Rehabilitate Bloody Gina Haspel
Robert Fisk
After ISIS, a Divided Iraq, Wounded and Grief-Stricken
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange as Neuroses
John Laforge
Chernobyl’s Deadly Effects Estimates Vary
Kenneth Surin
Mueller Time? Not for Now
Cesar Chelala
Yemen: The Triumph of Barbarism
Kerron Ó Luain
What the “White Irish Slaves” Meme Tells Us About Identity Politics
Andy Piascik
Grocery Store Workers Take on Billion Dollar Multinational
Seiji Yamada – Gregory G. Maskarinec
Health as a Human Right: No Migrants Need Apply
Howard Lisnoff
Loose Bullets and Loose Cannons
Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada
Dreaming in Miami
Graham Peebles
Consuming Stuff: The Polluting World of Fashion
Robert Dodge
Earth Day: Our Planet in Peril
Weekend Edition
April 19, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What Will It Take For Trump to Get His Due?
Roy Eidelson
Is the American Psychological Association Addicted to Militarism and War?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Time is Blind, Man is Stupid
Joshua Frank
Top 20 Mueller Report “Findings”
Rob Urie
Why Russiagate Will Never Go Away
Paul Street
Stephen Moore Gets Something Right: It’s Capitalism vs. Democracy
Russell Mokhiber
Why Boeing and Its Executives Should be Prosecuted for Manslaughter
T.J. Coles
The Battle for Latin America: How the U.S. Helped Destroy the “Pink Tide”
Ron Jacobs
Ho Chi Minh City: Nguyen Thai Binh Street
Dean Baker
Fun Fictions in Economics
David Rosen
Trump’s One-Dimensional Gender Identity
Kenn Orphan
Notre Dame: We Have Always Belonged to Her
Robert Hunziker
The Blue Ocean Event and Collapsing Ecosystems
Theodore C. Van Alst, Jr.
Paddy Wagon
Brett Wilkins
Jimmy Carter: US ‘Most Warlike Nation in History of the World’
John W. Whitehead
From Jesus Christ to Julian Assange: When Dissidents Become Enemies of the State
Nick Pemberton
To Never Forget or Never Remember
Stephen Cooper
My Unforgettable College Stabbings
Louis Proyect
A Leftist Rejoinder to the “Capitalist Miracle”
Louisa Willcox
Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic and the Need for a New Approach to Managing Wildlife
Brian Cloughley
Britain Shakes a Futile Fist and Germany Behaves Sensibly
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail