Beware the demagogue leaders

2017-09-03 06:02
Counter-protesters tear a Confederate flag during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. (Shaban Athuman, Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

Counter-protesters tear a Confederate flag during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. (Shaban Athuman, Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

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Two streets from where I was staying in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, in the US – and one week earlier – people had gathered in Centennial Olympic Park to march against racism and hate.

Georgia Resists, a newly formed coalition of civil and human rights groups, had met there to march to the Martin Luther King National Historic Site.

It was a show of solidarity, demonstrating their resistance to hatred and white supremacy.

This gathering had occurred in response to the recent protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, where hundreds of white supremacists had gathered, chanting “White lives matter!” and “You will not replace us!” and “Jews will not replace us!” as part of their Unite The Right rally, held at the University of Virginia.

The result?

Counter-protesters were injured and assaulted, and one of them was killed.

Along with the unfolding of these events in the US and the coverage by that country’s news channels have come a flurry of right wing media, whipping up hysteria about the so-called war on Christianity and “traditional values”.

And, for the first time in a very long time, supremacists are deriving their confidence straight from the White House.

“Welcome to Atlanta!” is almost immediately met by this qualification from the locals: “Sorry you have to visit during such a bad time.” Some sound demoralised, saying they are waiting for the tide to turn.

Historically, the civil rights movement in the American South was one of the most significant and successful social campaigns for racial equality.

From urban Atlanta to the most rural areas in Georgia, black activists protested against white supremacy.

Now, 60 years after this movement, racism in the US seems to be gaining momentum.

This week, dashcam footage of a police officer in Georgia was released. He was caught on camera during a traffic stop in 2016, making a shocking racist statement to a white woman he had stopped.

She was wary of him, and after telling him she had “seen way too many videos of cops”, he replied: “But you’re not black. Remember, we only kill black people.”

Some defended the cop’s response, calling it humorous.

This is hard to believe, given recent events such as Charlottesville and the rising tide of regressive racism emanating from the shadows not only in the US, but on our shores as well.

Comments such as the one by the cop cause black people to relive a horror that their forefathers bravely fought to rid them of.

It is clear, when watching US news and reading President Donald Trump’s tweets, that these will not end as long as the US has a demagogue in power who legitimises white supremacy.

Racism in the US and South Africa has always been determined by power – the power to enslave, kill without consequence, oppress, segregate and, ultimately, silence.

Its resurfacing has become all too evident by leaders’ recent responses to racial attacks.

Read more on:    donald trump  |  us  |  racism

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