Saturday marks the latest confrontation between cities that want to get on the right side of history by removing Confederate statues, and the racists who want to see the statues remain. While many supporters of southern “heritage” insist they are not racists for defending the monuments, they have done nothing to dissuade or even condemn the overtly racist groups that show up alongside them at rallies. That’s a familiar theme. It worked throughout Donald Trump’s campaign for president, as he promised to “look in to” what was so horrible about the historically awful organizations endorsing him.
This time, however, there is a sense of dread. Police in Charlottesville, Virginia are hunkering down for what could be a bloody standoff. That’s the fantasy of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, anyway. One member of the Pelham, NC-based KKK group, James Moore, told the Washington Post,
It’s an open-carry state, so our members will be armed. The liberals are taking away our heritage. By taking these monuments away, that’s what they’re working on. They’re trying to erase the white culture right out of the history books.”
If the group is “attacked,” he said, they will defend themselves. We all know what “self-defense” looks like between old white men and black people in the south.
The park that the statue of Robert E. Lee stands in was, until recently, named Lee Park. The city has already renamed it Emancipation Park, in advance of the November hearing they expect to win, that will lift the court injunction currently preventing them from removing the monument. The fact that anyone has even taken the city to court over the removal is a stunning indictment against the values of those protesting its removal.
Whether the defenders of Confederate “Heritage” can or cannot prove in court that they’re not racists — that somehow fighting to keep monuments memorializing a war fought over slavery has nothing to do with racial injustice — they are certainly not concerned with racial harmony today. In fact, they get angrier every single day.
And Saturday, they’re coming armed.
Featured image via Spencer Platt/Getty Images