October 09, 2017
"The permanent arrival of Europeans to the Americas was a transformative event that undeniably and fundamentally changed the course of human history and set the stage for the development of our great Nation." You could be forgiven for assuming this is Richard Spencer talking during his brief Charlottesville 3.0 demonstration. It's not, but it undoubtedly cheered him and his companions when they read it in President Trump's Columbus Day proclamation.
Here's what Spencer did say on Saturday: "We care about our heritage, we care about who we are, not just as Virginians, not just as Southerners, but as white people. ... You'll have to get used to us... We're going to come back again and again and again." They sang "I Wish I Was in Dixie." They chanted, "You will not replace us," and "The South will rise again," and "Russia is our friend."
In his Charlottesville Statement, posted back in August, Spencer says,“'European' refers to a core stock—Celtic, Germanic, Hellenic, Latin, Nordic, and Slavic—from which related cultures and a shared civilization sprang." For the White Nationalists, this is the true and only foundation of the United States. It's the perceived erosion of that primary culture into a multiracial, multiethnic, egalitarian society that does not privilege any group over another that they find so threatening. The Declaration of Independence proclaimed that all men are created equal, and the tortuous history of our country has been the struggle to figure out how to extend that promise to all people. This the alt-right can't abide. When Trump proclaims that the permanent arrival of Europeans was the transformative event that led to the development of the United States, he is explicitly telling them that he stands with them.
In Indianapolis on Sunday, other postures were taken. Many of the 49ers took a knee, of course. VP Pence, knowing that would be the case, told the press detail not to bother coming in to the stadium. He knew he wouldn't be there long. The Colts wore shirts that read, "We will stand for equality, justice, unity, respect, dialogue, opportunity." Pence walked out, making it clear where he stands. It was a great weekend for the alt-right.
History is made from our choices. How we choose to view the past, how we choose to act in the present. Where, and with whom, we choose to stand. What we choose to stand for.