By Alex Jackson
In the aftermath of the tragedy and violence that occurred in Charlottesville this month, the debate across the United States quickly became about whether or not we should be removing statues and other public historical monuments celebrating the Confederate States of America.
While this debate is an important one to have in our communities, it should not be the central focus of the events that unfolded in Charlottesville, or become a source of validation for the white supremacist agenda of those that marched with torches and hateful chants.
The white supremacists who staged the rally where a Robert E. Lee, general of the Confederacy, statue is located on the University of Virginia’s campus claimed they were marching in favor of keeping the memorial in place.
There are valid arguments on both sides of the statue debate in our politics today, especially for local governments. And that is exactly why the white supremacists wanted to associate themselves with a mainstream and reasonable debate. But we should not be fooled by their attempts to hide their hateful racism.
The alt-right members who marched with tiki torches that night understand that their views of neo-Nazism and white nationalism are fringe in America and that they don’t have any popular support.
For good reason, President Donald Trump was widely and directly criticized following his “many sides” comments. But it should also be widely noted that by having the President of the United States also jump into the statue debate after the rally and the violence throughout the weekend, the white supremacists and Nazis got just the cover they needed.
The debate about the statues is an important one to have, and state and local governments should move forward to address the valid concerns of their citizens. But right now we should not be conflating the debate about statues with the outright racism and white supremacism that were on full display in Charlottesville.
The confederate statue and memorial issue warrants a valid debate. Racism and white supremacism does not. Don’t believe for a second that the Nazis who marched on American soil in 2017 did it just because of a statue.
This article originally appeared in The Post (thepostathens.com). Alex Jackson is a sophomore studying strategic communications at Ohio University. What do you make of the ripple from Charlottesville? Let Alex know by tweeting him @alexjackson716.