5 Ways Progressives Must Respond to the Nazi Rally in Charlottesville

5 Ways Progressives Must Respond to the Nazi Rally in Charlottesville

Donald Trump’s reaction to the Nazi Rally in Charlottesville was disgusting. He coddled Nazis and White Supremacists and stoked a fire of ideological tensions that is likely to feature more violence. As Progressives, we have to be smart in how we react to White Supremacy. Here are 5 ways Progressives must respond to the Charlottesville Nazi terrorism.

Refuse the Alt-Left Label

Progressives must refuse the alt-left label. The alt-left label was created by the establishment to discredit Progressives and create a string that connects us to the alt-right. This is terrible and should be refused. Progressive ideas are not comparable to Nazis nor do they represent an “alternative” ideology. Progressive ideas have vastly more support than Nazism and White Supremacy. In fact, they are incredibly popular ideas.

The right-wing establishment turned “global warming” into “climate change” and suddenly people stopped caring about the planet heating up. We can NOT let the establishment determine the language used to describe Progressives or our causes will be dismissed too.

Condemn Slave Owning Presidents

Trump used the Nazi Rally in Charlottesville as an opportunity to bring out the tired old Confederate argument that Washington and Jefferson owned slaves. This line of thinking, of course, is a whataboutism: a rhetorical tactic Trump is extremely fond of.

Progressives should loudly and confidently condemn Washington and Thomas Jefferson for owning slaves. We should point out that their personal and Presidential accomplishments were not possible if not for the slave labor that allowed them to live, learn and lead. We should also note that what is racist and offensive to minorities should not be determined by white people. If people of color and minority leaders call for the statues to come down, white progressives like myself should have zero issue supporting them.

Denounce Violence

Progressives must denounce Antifa. Look, I knew some Antifa folks back during Occupy. Back then, like today, they were not helpful and did not move the Progressive movement forward. They are not comparable to the Black Panthers nor Malcolm X. They have no political accomplishments to date. They simply provide Nazis, White Supremacists, and a complicit news media the opportunity to craft narratives that undermine Progressives to frame Nazis as moral equals.

Trump refused to be a leader and specifically denounce the violence of Nazis. There is no reason the Left should follow his lead. We must denounce all forms of violence (including Nazi punching) if we expect to hold any moral high ground in an ideological war continuously spurred on by Trump.

Plus, let’s be realistic. Do we really want to challenge Nazis and White Supremacists with violence? Really?

Prepare for a Marathon, Not a Sprint

In combination with refraining from violence, Progressives must know that the fight for civil rights and social justice is not an easy one. It will not be won in a fist fight at a Nazi rally. The disease of racism will not be cured in a skirmish with White Supremacists. Remember, civil rights leaders would go to protests knowing that they would be attacked. Knowing they would be beaten up. And they went anyways. Unarmed. Acts like those were – to me – the most powerful in all of the civil rights movement. We do not need to be violent if they did not need to be. We need to stock up on courage, not bullets. We’re in for a long fight, let’s not give away our legitimacy now.

Never Forget How This Made us Feel

Nazis in the streets waving Swastika flags.
White Supremacists wielding torches, shouting racist chants.
And a president who couldn’t condemn it for what it was.

Progressives can not forget the feeling brought on by the shameful violence that took place at the Nazi rally in Charlottesville, the murder of Heather Heyer, or the disgusting response by President Trump. In 2018 and 2020, Progressives must bring Charlottesville with them to the ballot box and vote out every elected official who is complicit in Donald Trump’s Presidency – even if he’s already been impeached.

Ryan Black is a content creator, marketing professional, and political consultant who writes about Progressive Politics.


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