The legacy of Charlottesville: Trump must go
This Friday, Aug. 11, image made from a video provided by Vice News Tonight shows a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. | Vice News Tonight via AP

The racist, fascist demonstration in Charlottesville was in fact an uprising by the far right. These Hitler “brownshirts” came to Charlottesville fully prepared to intimidate and terrorize peaceful citizens. They came not to hold a rally; they stormed into town in full military gear, armed to the teeth. Photos show many carrying AK-47s as well as pepper spray, bats, and clubs. This was an armed uprising designed to see how far they could go and to incite similar actions across the country. It is reminiscent of the Beer Hall Putsch by Hitler in the 1920s.

The gathering was billed as a “Unite the Right rally.” It should have been called a “Unite the racist whites rally.” The most racist and hate-filled elements of American society saw it as an opportunity to congregate to consolidate support for the administration of the demagogic Trump.

The racist Charlottesville uprising, led by a motley horde of white supremacists, including the KKK and Nazis, began on Aug. 11, when hundreds of racists marched through the University of Virginia campus carrying torches and chanting Nazi slogans. The torches were also used as weapons.

A counter-demonstration, in opposition to the fascists, was organized by a broad coalition of anti-racist forces.

On Aug. 12, James Fields, a 20-year-old white male, drove his car, at high speed, into this counter-demonstration killing a young white woman, Heather Heyer. Heyer gave her life fighting racism. Many others were injured, five critically.

The right-wing gathering was sparked by the impending removal of a statute of Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate forces in the Civil War. It drew participants from near and far. In fact, Fields, the driver of the car that killed the counter-demonstrator, was from Ohio.

Police stood by

The police knew ahead of time that these rabid racists were converging on this small town for a gathering of hate and violence. Reports are that there was very little police presence in the area, no roads had been blocked, and there was no real attempt to keep the opposing demonstrations from clashing. There was no real attempt to stop attacks by the racists on peaceful demonstrators, who had to defend themselves.

Contrast this with the way nationally oppressed people of color are treated when they are lawfully demonstrating. For example, Native Americans in North Dakota were subjected to “war crime” attacks by vicious militarized police. But in Charlottesville, the despicable purveyors of hate were, comparatively speaking, allowed a free rein.

Further, it has now been revealed, via video footage taken by a volunteer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, that a white supremacist thug actually shot at the counter-demonstrators in Charlottesville. He fired his gun in the direction of a Black counter-protester. The shooter then leaves the scene, joining other racist protesters walking past the watchful eyes of the police, who, shockingly, took no action at the time.

After Heather Heyer’s murder, the head of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of North Carolina, Justin Moore, bragged he was “glad the girl was killed.” Moore stated: “Nothing makes us more proud at the KKK than we see white patriots such as James Fields, Jr., age 20, taking his car and running over nine communist anti-fascists, killing one (expletive) lover named Heather Heyer.” The recorded message went on to say “James Fields, Hail Victory! It’s men like you that have made the great white race strong.”

The KKK message is clearly an incitement to further violence and murder. This type of virulent racist rhetoric has not been heard since the civil rights days of the 1960s, when racists in the Deep South committed barbaric murders in the name of white supremacy.

On the national level, some politicians have characterized these Nazi-sloganeering advocates of white rule, these hucksters of Hitler salutes, these jackals of spewed hate as traitors to the country. The allegiance of these traitors in World War II, the great war against Fascism, would have been with Hitler’s Germany. Traitors they are and as traitors they must be treated!

In the meantime, after remaining silent for two days, Trump condemned “hatred, bigotry, and violence coming from many sides.” The “hatred, bigotry, and violence” came only from one side—the side of racism exhibited by the fascists. Former Vice-President Joe Biden chimed in with, “There is only one side, not many sides.” Trump subsequently condemned the Klan and neo-Nazis, but only a day later backpedaled and again said “both sides” were responsible for violence, much to the satisfaction of Klan leader David Duke.

Movement for impeachment gains momentum

On Aug. 18, U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee announce that he was filing articles of impeachment against Trump for his comments about the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville.

He said after watching TV coverage of the white racist rallies, he was reminded of the Nazi atrocities against Jews in 1930s Germany. Cohen compared the violence to Kristallnacht, the anti-Jewish assaults and attacks of glass-breaking vandalism on Nov. 9 and 10, 1938. Cohen’s move for impeachment will join those of Reps. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., and Al Green, D-Texas, both of whom introduced articles of impeachment in June.

A movement on the lunatic fringe in the South advocates that the South should break away from the U.S. again. The right-wing march on Charlottesville dovetails with this movement. As a Native writer, residing in the birth state of the Klan and living only a short road trip from the birth town of that noxious terrorist organization, I am enraged when these crackpot ideologues proclaim that the South is “White Man’s land.” I must most vehemently remind them that the South is Indian land, illegally and forcibly taken from its rightful and first inhabitants, as is every inch of this country.

I must echo a statement made by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe to the racist white marchers: “There is no place for you in America.” Some of the white supremacists carried signs that read “We will not be replaced.” I would propose instead of being replaced, how about being repatriated? Repatriation to the European country of their ancestral origin would suit Native America just fine.

But until that time, by our active opposition we must smash racism and incipient fascism in this beautiful land where it has no place. Trump’s demagogic ascendancy has brought the vermin out of the woodwork, the rats out the sewer, the nauseous scum out of the stench-ridden landfill—out of their hiding places, so the better to be dealt with. As the contradictions are brought into sharper focus, the battle lines can be drawn to ensure victory by the long oppressed. The day of reckoning can be finally realized by a people united to stop racism and fascism in its gore-laden tracks and send its purveyors back to their holes in the ground, there to expire in the ignominious passing that is so richly deserved.

In communities across the nation, demonstrations and rallies are being held rejecting the racist and fascist movement aided and abetted by Trump and his cohorts. So far, Donald Trump is the only president in U.S. history to be openly praised by the most racist and hate-filled organizations in the country. The time is long overdue for the KKK to be classified as a terrorist organization by the government. The immediate next step is the removal of the national purveyor of hatred and bloodshed who resides in the Executive Office of this nation. Trump must go! Immediate impeachment is on the table!


Albert Bender
Albert Bender

Albert Bender is a Cherokee activist, historian, political columnist, and freelance reporter for Native and Non-Native publications. He was an organizer and delegate to the First and Second Intercontinental Indian Conferences held in Quito, Ecuador and Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. Recently, he has been an active participant and reporter in the Standing Rock struggle in North Dakota. He is currently writing a legal treatise on Native American sovereignty and working on a book on the war crimes committed by the U.S. against the Maya people in the Guatemalan civil war of the late 20th century. Albert is also a former staff attorney with Legal Services of Eastern Oklahoma (LSEO) in Muskogee and a consulting attorney on Indigenous sovereignty, land restoration, and Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) issues. He is the recipient of several Eagle Awards by the Tennessee Native American Eagle Organization and a former Director of Native American Legal Departments and a Tribal Public Defender.