Photograph by Steve Helber
I’m the kind of person that loves conflict, and confrontation, and disagreement because I think that it is one of the best ways to uncover and discover deeper truths that neither side of a conflict are actually communicating. When X debates Y – rarely is the truth X or Y, it’s almost always Z. Though I usually try and take the side of X or Y, or whatever side is losing, so that I can find Z and you can’t take the side of Z in an argument because it is usually interpreted as a red herring.
The issue I see with the current state of affairs in North America right now with the alt-right protests and their and counter-protests is the focus on X and Y and their actual belief in the moral superiority of their side. As if a protest itself can encapsulate a side so succinctly that rightness or wrongness can be helpful categories.
Reading the news about these conflicts is even worse. All emanating from one photo, or one person’s comments, we are given an extremely limited view of X and something very concise to establish firmly in Y. Knowing that a Nazi chant was voiced in Charlottesville is all we need to know to feel like we are understand everything there is to know about every person who showed up and what our stance is towards that entire group.
“Those are Nazi’s over there, and we aren’t anti-Nazi, so I’m going to go show up with larger numbers to fight these Nazis because that is the right thing to do.” That seems to be the sentiment of the folks that are showing up to counter these kinds of folks. So the counter-protesters show up in greater numbers, scare off the wrong protesters and then us right protesters feel like we accomplished some good in the world.
I’d rather see us treat white nationalism like our society treats street preachers. Street Preacher’s feed off conflict and are inspired by being opposed. When they are ignored or engaged with creatively, they eventually go away. They harm people and they represent a brutal side of a oppressive religion, however to treat them like they are the enemy and we are the heroes where we feel superior by showing up and protesting their presence seems to reinforce all the wrong parts of this conflict and cause the conflict to increase rather than uncovering the actual problems. I do not see how anti-street preacher protests would ever lead to any sort of positive outcome. Do you? Is it the same for anti-Nazi rallies?
So again, I love conflict, but only because of the end game, and I’m very confused at what the end game is right now for this kind of conflict. It can’t really be just to send a message that the countries we live in are not racist is it? Am I missing something?