In the twilight’s last gleaming
This is open season
But you won’t get too far
Because you gotta blame someone
For your own confusion
We’re on guard this time
Against your final solution
–Red Rider, “Lunatic Fringe,” 1981
If they think we’re going to let Heather Heyer’s death be in vain, they’re out of their minds.
Heyer, the human-rights heroine savagely murdered in Charlottesville on August 12, represented the best of this country and this world–and the individuals who, directly and indirectly, caused her slaughter are some of the very worst. Heyer should absolutely be named TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2017, as a symbol of both the anti-Trump resistance and the consequences of the hatred the 45th President and his party have fostered for years.
Heyer’s name has been added to a noble and tragic list, the same list that features the names of Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers, Viola Liuzzo, James Reeb, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner–men and women who gave their very lives in the effort to resist hate. Her name and her legacy will inspire a new generation of activists, a new generation of Americans who will fight passionately for love, tolerance and justice.
Much has been made of how young the “alt-right” crowd was in Charlottesville. Yes, it is disturbing to see how attracted some millennials are to malevolence. However, there are millions of young Americans who, in the wake of Charlottesville, have renewed their commitment to diversity and equality, have reaffirmed their desire to smash down the walls of prejudice and privilege, have made it clear that bigotry is baseless.
Look at the folks who rose up in Boston this past weekend to resist hate. It was inspiring to watch, especially because it occurred a week before the eighth anniversary of Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy’s death. There’s no doubt that had he lived, Kennedy, a valiant warrior for civil rights, would have been among the thousands who turned out to denounce the bigotry that Kennedy himself was a target of during his US Senate career.
Donald Trump–who seems to have forgotten that this country fought the ultimate manifestation of the “alt-right” during World War II–has awakened the sleeping giant of resistance. By equivocating on the chaos in Charlottesville, he made it clear that he really stood with the same forces that killed Heyer, Evers, Liuzzo, Reeb, Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner. He revealed himself to all but the most naive citizens of this country as an opponent of America’s highest virtues. As the old saying goes, a tiger cannot change its stripes–and with his reaction to Charlottesville, Trump made it clear that he hasn’t changed one iota since the 1970s and 1980s.
Here’s the thing: there are plenty of Americans who grew up in environments in which they were taught to hate anyone who wasn’t exactly like them. Some Americans never learned that those lessons were wrong, that hate based on color, class and creed is evil, that we are all one. Most Americans, however, did learn those lessons–and they’re beyond disgusted with Trump, and want him to leave the White House now and take his cretinous Cabinet with him.
In the wake of Charlottesville, we are bearing witness to the beginning of, to quote a familiar phrase, a political revolution–an uprising against injustice, a revolt against racial hatred, an alliance against the “alt-right.” The Khaki Klan that showed up in Charlottesville–the new young vessels of the centuries-old hatreds the iconic Dick Gregory fought against every day of his life– declared, “You will not replace us!” (which they followed with a vile anti-Semitic chant). The rest of America is now saying in response, “Wanna bet?”