2017-08-13

sovay: (Viktor & Mordecai)
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 Heils 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.

sovay: (Viktor & Mordecai)
Today involved grocery shopping, housecleaning, pizza, keeping an eye on the news, and accruing links. I am way more tired than I feel the physical aspects of the day should account for.

1. Carly Pildis, "My Family Is Black and Jewish. Here's What Charlottesville Means to Me." I find this paragraph particularly acute: "It's how I know that America is both our sanctuary and where our neighbors were brought in chains. It is both our home and a place we can never fully trust. We have more freedom than ever before but the swastika still haunts the doorstep of our synagogue. We love America but wonder if our kids are really safe at our local JCC."

2. Jelani Cobb, "The Battle of Charlottesville." Crystallizes a lot of things I have seen people saying and thinking—including me, but more elegantly—and then goes one analytical step further. "It is a moment of indeterminate morality, one in which the centrifugal forces of contempt, resentment, and racial superiority are pitted against the ideal of common humanity and the possibility of a civic society. We have entered a new phase of the Trump era."

3. In terms of amplifying voices in Charlottesville, I have found both butchsaffron and eshusplayground to be valuable perspectives. I'm not even on Tumblr. News moves faster off Dreamwidth, whee.

4. I discovered Erynn Brook's "White Feelings: 0-60 for Charlottesville" via more than one white person who said it was useful to them. It strikes me as a good example of the snarkily worded but sincerely intended anti-racist primer; I have reservations mostly about its elision of Jews. On that front, see this post and its follow-up. This one is also related.

5. The murdered counter-protester has been named; so has the man who drove the car into her. The White House winks and nods and barely even dogwhistles at this point, but I am hoping the local law will bolt the terrorist to the wall. Let there be consequences. Not just private ones like a sock in the jaw, but formal, legal ones like convictions for terrorism. Free speech is one thing, but hate speech another, and violence is something else entirely.

6. I wanted to link this cycle days ago: twenty-one poets writing for the Statue of Liberty in the age of Trump.

7. As people keep talking about appropriate responses to neo-Nazi, neo-Confederate violence, I keep thinking of the speech delivered by Anton Walbrook to Roger Livesey in Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943). The German refugee is talking to the English gentleman, to the English audience, about the facts of fighting Nazis. Both the scriptwriter and the actor may be speaking through him. Jewish, stateless Pressburger had left Berlin in a life-saving hurry in 1933; Walbrook took his chance in 1936, Austrian, half-Jewish, and queer. They knew whereof Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff spoke. I couldn't find a very good clip of the scene, but here it is:

I read your broadcast up to the point where you describe the collapse of France. You commented on Nazi methods, foul fighting, bombing refugees, machine-gunning hospitals, lifeboats, lightships, bailed-out pilots and so on, by saying that you despised them, that you would be ashamed to fight on their side and that you would sooner accept defeat than victory if it could only be won by those methods . . . Clive! If you let yourself be defeated by them, just because you are too fair to hit back the same way they hit at you, there won't be any methods but Nazi methods! If you preach the Rules of the Game while they use every foul and filthy trick against you, they'll laugh at you! They think you're weak, decadent! I thought so myself in 1919 . . . I don't think you won [the last war]. We lost it. But you lost something, too. You forgot to learn the moral. Because victory was yours, you failed to learn your lesson twenty years ago, and you have to pay the school fees again! Some of you will learn quicker than the others. Some will never learn it. Because you have been educated to be a gentleman and a sportsman—in peace and in war. But, Clive, dear old Clive, this is not a gentleman's war. This time you are fighting for your very existence against the most devilish idea ever created by a human brain—Nazism. And if you lose there won't be a return match next year, perhaps not even for a hundred years! You mustn't mind me, an alien, saying all this. But who can describe hydrophobia better than one who has been bitten—and is now immune?
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