In a powerful piece, Vox’s Lauren Williams rebutted those who sought to defend American values by denying the very Americanness of the Charlottesville protesters. “As wrong as white supremacists are about most everything, they’re right about this,” she wrote. “White supremacy is our culture — not just theirs, but all of America’s. It lives in our hearts and minds and institutions, and in public parks and highways across the country. Hate has a home here, and it always has.”
That’s true, and it remains true. But if the events of Charlottesville were a reminder of how deeply racism is woven into our history and present, how easily and honestly white supremacy lays claim to be a venerated part of American life, their aftermath has offered some hope that America is changing, and for the better.
It is likely that the immediate legacy of Charlottesville will be the dismantling and challenging of Confederate monuments. In the days after the march, Baltimore removed its four Confederate monuments in a single night, the governor of Virginia reversed his previous position and endorsed removing the state’s Confederate monuments, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Sen. Cory Booker in calling for the US Capitol to do the same.
Top leaders in the Republican Party, who often stay quiet during Trump’s eruptions, found their voices. “White supremacy is repulsive,” Paul Ryan tweeted. Mitt Romney was even less sparing. “Racial prejudice, then hate, then repugnant speech, then a repulsive rally, then murder; not supremacy, barbarism.” The list could go on, but the most unexpected message came from GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch, who chairs the powerful Senate Finance Committee and has been reticent to criticize Trump in the past. “My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home,” he said.
The business community, which has held its tongue on Trump’s behavior in the hope that silence would bring corporate tax cuts and friendly regulatory rulings, began to rebel. In a message to Walmart’s employees, CEO Doug McMillan wrote, “as we watched the events and the response from President Trump over the weekend, we too felt that he missed a critical opportunity to help bring our country together by unequivocally rejecting the appalling actions of white supremacists.” Led by Merck’s Kenneth Frazier, so many CEOs quit Trump’s manufacturing advisory council that the White House shuttered the board entirely rather than face further defections…..