In response to a Ku Klux Klan-like protest over plans to remove a Confederate statue in Charlottesville, Virginia gubernatorial candidate Tom Perriello wrote on Twitter, “Get your white supremacist hate out of my hometown.”
The Democrat’s denunciation was commendable. But his response makes the protesters seem like bothersome gnats that can easily be swatted away.
That doesn’t come close. White supremacy in America is an all-encompassing system designed to keep economic and political power in the hands of those at the top. The Confederate sympathizers were merely pawns, useful idiots manipulated into blaming blacks and immigrants of color for their woes. Their use of torches only added to the theatrics.
Here’s what white supremacy really looks like:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions gearing up for another “war on crime.” But first, he has to manufacture enough fear of people of color. He recently tried by declaring, falsely, that New York “continues to see gang murder after gang murder, the predictable consequence of the city’s ‘soft on crime’ stance.”
Sessions threatened to withhold millions of dollars in federal grants from the city’s police department if the city didn’t start turning in undocumented immigrants to federal authorities.
In other words, if New York doesn’t have a crime problem now, Sessions would cut police funding until it did have one.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, citing the city’s low crime rate, called Sessions’s remarks “outrageous” and “pitiful.” Sessions later conceded that New York police had created “some of the best” techniques for fighting crime.
But that’s not the end of it.
Under the Trump administration, local police departments are slated to get more powerful weaponry and expanded powers to use them. Corporate prison complexes could see an increase in profits if Sessions’s push to bring back mandatory minimum sentences moves forward. Rural communities in majority white areas will get new prisons — along with jobs overseeing a veritable plantation of mostly black and Hispanic inmates.
The judiciary is a key component in the maintenance of this system. Police are rarely charged for fatally shooting someone while on duty. According to an analysis by The Washington Post and researchers at Bowling Green State University, 54 officers faced charges for such shootings between 2005 and 2015, a fraction of the fatal police shootings that occurred across the country in that time. The majority of the officers whose cases have been resolved have not been convicted, The Post found.
The Post also reported: “Among the officers charged since 2005 for fatal shootings, more than three-quarters were white. Two-thirds of their victims were minorities, all but two of them black.”
It is as if the vision of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who recently declared that white “culture and demographics are our destiny,” are coming true. In effect, black and brown lives do not matter.
And with voting rights under attack, the chances of getting elected officials who might take a stronger stance for justice becomes slimmer by the year.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling that North Carolina legislators had acted “with almost surgical precision” to blunt the influence of black voters. But Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. made clear in a separate opinion that the ruling did not mean that court was taking a stand for or against the actions. Encouraged by the high court’s statement, the legislators have vowed to keep at their obstructionist ways.
President Trump, having fomented fears of “Mexican rapists” during his campaign, announced Monday that he was cracking down on a Mexican gang. “MS-13 is going to be gone from our streets very soon, believe me,” he said, during a ceremony for slain police officers. “When policing is reduced, it’s often the poorest and most vulnerable Americans who are the first to suffer. We have all seen the tragic rise in violence and crimes in many of our disadvantaged communities.”
But Trump offered no plan for dealing with that disadvantage. Nothing about more jobs or affordable housing. Not better health care — just more police officers with bigger guns.
No need for the white protesters to wave Confederate flags and chant “white power.” Trump and Sessions know how to placate them by attacking black freedoms.
As for Perriello’s desire to banish the bigots: Sorry, Tom. You might be able to get the white supremacists out of your home town, but you can’t get your home town out of America.
To read previous columns, go to washingtonpost.com/milloy.