AS I SEE IT 8/14…Thoughts on Charlottesville, including from the wrestling world

Aug 14, 2017 - by Bob Magee

Bob Magee
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets

For those looking for wrestling and a pre-SummerSlam blog, not happening….not with what happened this weekend in Charlottesville, VA.

There’s always been racial hatred and white supremacists in this country from the first moments of the United States…certainly the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis then the “respectable” types such as the White Citizens Council types and their newest incarnation with what could be termed “Bro Nazis” who couch their hate in suits and designer casual clothes. But too many (primarily white) Americans were content to dismiss them as a few small, powerless fanatics.

But this weekend feels like we crossed a line as a nation…a line where the mainstream of America is finally being forced to confront this evil.

As the result of liberal college town Charlottesville, VA’s removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, Confederate leader; a horde of hate descended on the city this past weekend.

Friday night saw a torchlight parade of neo-Nazis who’ve been ridiculed as “bro Nazis” young Millennials types dressed in business casual clothing, firing off Hitler salutes and spouting vile chants like “blood and soil” and “Jew will not replace us”. Many found it easy to ridicule them because they looked a collection of entitled little brats playing Nazi.

But then came Saturday.

White supremacists gathered on Saturday for a “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville, where they were met by counter demonstrators. They then assaulted the counter-demonstrators with AK-47s, baseball bats, clubs, metal shields, pepper spray, and tear gas in what became an out and out riot. 15 were known to be injured in this part of the incident. The Governor of Virginia declared a State of Emergency (which still exists as I write this).

Then at 1:45 p.m., a car deliberately targeted and hit a group of counter demonstrators, injuring 19; and killing Heather D. Heyer, 32, a local paralegal who was among peaceful counter-demonstrators. James Alex Fields Jr., of Maumee, OH has been charged with second degree murder.

Donald Trump, responded on Twitter…hours later… with a tepid condemnation of the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides”. This ignored the fact that it was only one side who brought weapons on Saturday.

Trump was condemned for not even mentioning Charlottesville and not mentioning white supremacists or hate groups. There wasn’t “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides”…but on one side. Media and people of decency condemned what happened (and what didn’t happen) within minutes.

But this isn’t a partisan issue…leading Republicans, even those the farthest to the Right, at least some of whom may have benefitted from this kind of attitude, quickly condemned what happened.

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) stated: “Mr. President – we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) responded (to Trump’s statement and to the violence) angrily: “We should call evil by its name. My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home. -OGH”

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA): “What “White Nationalist(s)” are doing in Charlottesville is homegrown terrorism that can’t be tolerated anymore that what Any extremist does”.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said: “White supremacists aren’t patriots, they’re traitors- Americans must unite against hatred & bigotry.”

Sen Ted Cruz (R-FL) said: “The Nazis, KKK, and white supremacists are repulsive and evil and all of us have a moral obligation to speak out against the lies, bigotry, anti-Semitism and hatred that they propagate…I urge the Department of Justice to immediately investigate and prosecute this grotesque act of domestic terrorism.

The wrestling world didn’t ignore what happened:

Kevin Steen (Owens) said:

…. I’ve been pretty out of the loop these past few days and only found out about what transpired in Virginia late last night. I have to be honest, this time I’m almost speechless….What happened is beyond disgusting and sickening. Racism and bigotry is wrong. That’s all there is to it. I’m sad and concerned that my children are growing up in a world like this. All I can say is that my wife and I will do all we can to ensure that our children are part of the solution and not the problem. I really hope everyone out there does the same. “Let’s try to make the world a better place. Let’s love each other. Let’s not be pieces of $#@t to each other. Good luck.”

Sami Zayn simply responded by tweeting a picture of a Nazi symbol with a “no” symbol around it.

Ring of Honor Champion Cody Rhodes also said: “Nazis and white supremacists can keep marching backwards… Rest of us are marching forward”; notably including a picture of his wife, Brandi.

Matt Hardy said: “Skin color has nothing to do with the quality of any human being. It’s what lies inside their heart & soul that matters.

WWE often adds a brief bumper this time of year concerning the Martin Luther King “I Have A Dream” speech. It would certainly be welcome to see its airing moved up a week or so and aired tonight. There is also a really strong PSA done by John Cena last year for the Ad Council’s “Love Has No Labels” campaign. To my knowledge the PSA hasn’t aired before on WWE TV. It might be a good time to get permission from the Ad Council air that ad tonight.

If you’ve never seen this ad before, please take a moment to watch this PSA here . As old as I am, I find this very moving. While it’s over 3 minutes long, after this weekend…it would be an act of corporate citizenship (and smart PR) to air this PSA. It’d mean more than a moment of silence or the standard MLK bumper they air (which is about as long).

Yes, I know Linda McMahon holds office in the current administration. But as several leaders of her party have made clear, standing against hate shouldn’t have a party label. Nor does it here.

Until next time….

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