We got out of the house in the evening. It was just around sunset and there were smoky peach and pink streaks in the sky, so we walked the same loop of the Mystic River that we had discovered in June
and checked up on the Hasenpfeffer in their late-lit silflay field; this time we took the boardwalk under the Fellsway (water lilies, ducks, spiderwebs on the streetlights like set dressing for a haunted house) and came up in Assembly Square, where we acquired perfectly serviceable non-booze milkshakes from Burger Dive before negotiating the construction tangle of I-93 on our way to Stop & Shop. Dinner was grilled cheese made short-order-style in my grandmother's skillet. We locked Autolycus out of the kitchen after he made repeated attempts to climb onto the stove where all the delicious excitement was taking place, but his unassuming confederate Hestia slipped the latch on the door and let him back in. He hoovered the floor just in case we had dropped any cheese crumbs. Just now he stuck his head directly under the kitchen tap in order to lick the last of the goat's milk out of my mug before I washed it. Gentlepeople of all persuasions, the only mooch that matters.
1. Here is one list
of ways to help in Charlottesville right now. There are two fundraising campaigns already for victim relief and medical expenses. See also this list
of local anti-racism organizations and this post
by a Charlottesville resident. I donated to University of Virginia's Hillel
and Black Student Alliance
and to Charlottesville Pride
, which I figure should cover a reasonable (and not necessarily mutually exclusive) swathe of people neo-Nazis hate.
2. Several of the same neo-Nazi groups responsible for the violence in Charlottesville have a rally planned next Saturday in Boston. There is a counter-protest
already being organized. I will be out of town due to prior commitments at NecronomiCon Providence
. Anyone who will be in town and feels that they can counter-protest safely, strength to your arm.
3. People on Facebook have been posting this wartime footage of swastikas being destroyed
. The exploding one at the beginning is surprisingly cathartic. Don't bother with the comments, which are predictably full of anti-Semitic trash fire.
I don't know what emotions I'm supposed to feel. A lot of people are talking about shame, shock, grief; I seem to be feeling a high degree of anger and what I think must be outrage in that it is anger specifically against a thing that should not happen—and it feels personal, but of course it is personal, neo-Nazis don't chant "Final stop, Auschwitz" as a historical curiosity—but not at the moment a lot of surprise. I was more surprised by the election results in November and even then I didn't think it couldn't
happen here, I just thought this time it wouldn't
. I guess my baseline of things that happen here has just been revising itself downward ever since. White terrorism in America has been going on for generations. This is an especially grotesque and obvious manifestation, but I think it is so obvious in part because it uses Nazi iconography as well as Confederate flags, because it indulged in a form of terrorism associated more with ISIS than with lone-wolf postal shooters. It looks now like the Other, like the half-mythical villains of our last righteous war, like the new demons of the war on terror. Insofar as it looked like the Ku Klux Klan, so long as it wasn't physically wearing a white sheet and those pointy hoods we can thank D.W. Griffith for, I suspect to many (white) people it was hardly visible at all. I'm glad the so-called alt-right has crossed the streams in public: I'm glad they have made the shape of their hatred visible from space. You start throwing around Sieg Heil
s and Orrin Hatch
, for God's sake, denounces you. (The man in the White House doesn't
, because white supremacists are the one demographic he can't afford to alienate.) I will continue calling these people neo-Nazis because they are wearing fucking swastikas and quoting Hitler and I have no interest in granting them the plausible deniability of their attempted rebranding, but maybe we should also call them neo-Confederates or neo-Klan, so not to enable the illusion of their racist, fascist ideology as a strain that infiltrated America from outside as opposed to a strain that has always been part of American white supremacy. My country didn't need Germany to invent lynchings or eugenics. These dreams of ethnic cleansing are homegrown. Terrorists, above all, whatever else we call them. Very definitely terrorists.
(I understand the above problem of definition is the reason terms like "white nationalist" or "white supremacist" exist, but even these have started to feel sanitized to me, as if they describe theoretical positions rather than active advocacy of racial violence: torches in the night, flags of lynching and genocide, deaths and injuries.)
On the other hand, there was a Charlottesville solidarity vigil
held on Boston Common tonight and a kind stranger on the internet Photoshopped a panel of a peculiar vintage comic for me so that it now represents a black cat punching Hitler, so not all good in humanity is lost.