Skip To Content
Back to Opinion

Charlottesville Shows That Nazis Have More Rights Than Black People

It took me a while to figure out what exactly was most upsetting about the weekend’s events in Charlottesville. Beyond the fact that a person was killed and many were injured by a group of white supremacists, and beyond the fact that there are Nazis marching in the streets of America in 2017, something was revealed in Charlottesville that was even more upsetting. On Saturday, we learned that the civil rights of Nazis are more protected than those of people of color.

In Charlottesville this weekend, Nazis showed up and became violent while virtually every institution failed counterprotestors, and especially the black folks who were targeted. The cops did nothing to stop Nazis from committing violent hate crimes. Our government utterly failed to protect people from racial terror.

For two days straight, cops stood by and did nothing as white mobs attacked counter-protesters. Yet when Black Lives Matter peacefully protested in Ferguson, they were met with dogs, semi-automatic rifles, tear gas and tanks.

In other words, when black people show up to protest, they are met with riot gear and assault weapons. When Nazis show up to protest, they are met with cops so reticent to intervene that they don’t even stop the Nazis from beating up counter-protestors.

These white supremacists showed up with their own militia. Can you even imagine what would have happened if black folks showed up to protests in Baton Rouge with a militia? Can you imagine what kind of force they would have been met with?

But despite how horrific these thoughts are, they are not that surprising. While many people have expressed bewilderment about the events which occurred in Charlottesville, I was honestly not even shocked. While Trump’s rise to power did not create the racist element that we saw in Charlottesville, it sure did embolden that element by normalizing the type of racism which was previously only expressed within safe spaces for white people.

While we have seen our share of racial tension under past Presidents, what happened in Charlottesville was different and dangerous. When Trump was asked to make a statement about the events which occurred in Charlottesville, he not only refused to outright condemn the white supremacists who showed up to engage in a campaign of violence and terror, but he tried to muddy the waters by saying that the people who came to protest the white supremacists were also at fault.

We black folks are used to racial trauma in this country. But what happened in Charlottesville felt like a different type of trauma. It felt like an historic trauma; the same type of trauma that our grandparents experienced when they attempted to integrate into white spaces and were beat by mobs as the police looked on with approval. The same type of trauma that they felt when George Wallace stood on the steps of the University of Alabama and declared his support for white supremacy by supporting segregation. The same type of trauma that they felt when thousands of white people would participate in the lynching of black people with the help and support of law enforcement.

If the government will not protect us on the local and federal level, who will? There will supposedly be an investigation done by the DOJ, but I think that we can all safely say that this will probably be nothing more than a dog and pony show.

Let’s face it folks — we have regressed to the days where the federal government will not only tacitly sit by idly while white mobs attack people of color and protesters. We now have people such as Steven Bannon and Steven Miller who will go as far as to enable these mobs.

The cold hard truth is that many of the institutions which are tasked with protecting our rights as Americans have abandoned us – while they continue to protect the white supremacists who live in our midst.

[This piece was penned by @Freeyourmindkid, who has been threatened by white supremacists in the past and for issues of safety has used a pseudonym.]

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.