America is again reminded of its dark past after the violent clashes between white nationalists and counter protesters last week. In Charlottesville, a hit and run attack on protesters resulted in the tragic death of a 32-year-old woman, including injury to 19 people.
President Trump in response said the following after the incident: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides.”
There is a bold resurgence of white supremacism in our midst.
The call to organize last Friday and Saturday was for a huge rally and gathering of white nationalists, neo-Nazis, alt-right activists, members of the Ku Klux Klan, and far right extremists to protest the planned removal of the statue of General Robert Lee of the Confederate Army that is situated in Charlottesville’s Emancipation Park.
Racist and hate slogans were chanted and heard during the rally--- “You will not replace us”--- including taunts against African Americans, people of color, Jews, immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQs and people who the white supremacists believe have no place in American society. Their issue is based on the belief and premise that America is a white nation, that being white is supreme and superior to other races, and that America’s problems and maladies are brought about by multiculturalism.
They take President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan as a pledge to recover their “vanishing privilege and power” and thus their slogan proclaimed “You will not replace us.”
“You will not replace us” is not a new coined phrase. Even in our own immigrant story in America, Filipinos were classified as U.S. Nationals earlier and were not given any rights and privileges that Americans enjoyed. Like the Chinese who were subjected to an Exclusion Act by U.S. Congress, Filipinos as nationals were subjected to hate and discriminatory signs that were posted in businesses and commercial establishments (“No Filipinos or Dogs Allowed,” “Positively No Filipinos Allowed”).
Carlos Bulosan in his book “America Is In The Heart” gave very vivid tales and stories about the sufferings that Filipinos faced during his time because of racism. Hate is a scary thing. Hate kills. Hate is a dead-end.
One columnist wrote that America’s past experience with racism is again being resurrected by the present administration--- “Donald Trump and his attorney general are attempting to enact and effectuate policies that ring in the key of ‘You will not replace us’ every single day. Their programmatic efforts to disenfranchise minority voters, gerrymander minority voting districts, end affirmative action, ban transgender soldiers from serving in the military, increase deportations, curb immigration, and foment racially discriminatory policing, sentencing, and incarceration systems are all the modern-day equivalent of this week’s ugly battle cry, ‘You will not replace us.’”
The union of states that is the United States of America is not only a union of white nations. It is also not a confederacy of slave-owning states. It is the union of states and of the American people founded on the belief and principles of justice and equality for all.
The tragedy in Charlottesville is a reminder to every American that we cannot go back to our dark past.
There is wisdom that we all can learn from the words of Chief Justice Earl Warren of the U.S. Supreme Court when he outlawed segregation in public schools and transformed many areas in American Constitutional Law jurisprudence many years ago--- “We are now at the point where we must decide whether we honor the concept of plural society which gains strength through diversity, or whether we are to have bitter fragmentation that will result in perpetual tension and strife.” America has a painful past when it comes to bigotry and racism and we should not stop learning from our history and from the lessons of our past in order to protect our present and our future.
In a just nation that values fair play and equality, white supremacism has no place.
Until next week!
Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105.You can also visit Jojo Liangco’s website at www.liangcolaw.com.