Sunday, August 13, 2017

Heather Heyer, a Casualty of Trump's America

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Heather Heyer was just thirty-two-years-old when she was run down by a maniac with delusions of Third Reich grandeur.   Heather grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia, she worked there as a paralegal, and yesterday she died in Charlottesville.  She was peacefully protesting an assortment of Klansmen, Neo-Nazis' and other fascist interlopers who had descended on her fair city to express their outrage at the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

Heather had a right to be in Charlottesville, and she certainly had a right to peacefully protest the presence of the fascists.

The fascists, of course, also had a right to come to Charlottesville and make their own views heard.

But then something awful happened, something which permanently removed Heather Heyer's right to peacefully assemble and protest.  As Heather and an group of quiet but determined anti-fascists gathered on a side street, a steel-gray Dodge Challenger came roaring down that street and plowed into them.   Heather was killed and more than thirty others were injured.  The driver, twenty-year-old James Fields, Jr., managed to turn his vehicle around and flee.  He was later captured and has been charged with second-degree murder.

Fields, who is a resident of Ohio, had been photographed earlier in the day posing with a group of individuals holding shields bearing the logo of a hate group called Vanguard America.  He was dressed the same as the other members of the group in the photo (white polo shirt and tan slacks), yet by the time of his arrest, Vanguard America was denying that he was a member of their organization.  Sometime later in the day Fields made the decision to move beyond just posing for pictures.  Fields got behind the wheel of what one news outlet dubbed his "beloved" Dodge Challenger, stepped on the gas, and tore into a group of counter-protesters - sending bodies flying.

Donald Trump, a man with at least three fascist sympathizers in his inner-circle - Bannon, Miller, and Gorka - issued a statement on the incident which seemed to cast blame on all parties involved in the day's events:

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides. It's been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama, it's been going on for a long, long time."
Translated into English, that gibberish might mean "everybody's guilty, shame on them, and that's the way it's always been."   But Trump said it, so who knows what he meant.

Today some of Trump's flacks went on the Sunday morning talk shows and tried to walk back his garbled comment - and Attorney General Sessions has indicated that the Justice Department will be looking at the incident as a "civil rights" matter.  Sadly, with Jefferson Beauregard Sessions at the helm of the Justice Department, a civil rights abuse might not generate the same sense of moral outrage and assured justice as it would have in previous administrations.

Racism and intolerance are on the rise in America.   Charlottesville has shown us that feelings and emotions which people once had the common decency to keep to themselves, are now being proudly displayed for the whole world to witness.  Ignorance not only lives, it is standing tall - and often waving a Confederate flag , or giving a Nazi salute, or throwing a white power sign.   Shame has all but evaporated, and what we are now seeing is the American underbelly - the miscreants who are emboldened by Trump's ugly rhetoric and offenses against common decency.

Donald Trump is reshaping American norms and values.   He is, through his personal guidance of words and deeds, creating a new America that fosters hatred and divisiveness, an America where dangerous people feel empowered to exercise their rights of free speech through acts of violence.

Heather Heyes died in the streets trying to defend another America - the one she knew and loved - an America where everyone could have their say without trembling in fear for their very lives.

May Heather's death become a turning point in our national descent into madness.

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