Over the weekend, the world watched in horror as alt-right protests held in Charlottesville, Virginia turned deadly. As a sizeable collection of neo-Nazis, white supremacists and others with similar belief systems descended upon the university city, they were met with resistance from those vehemently against the hateful messages being propelled.
Vile rhetoric was spewed, racist banners were waved and torches were carried, as alt-right members came to Charlottesville to argue against a city vote that’ll determine whether or not a statue of Confederate general, Robert E. Lee, should be removed from a local park.
Sadly, the escalating violence of the dueling protests resulted in the tragic death of 32-year-old paralegal, Heather Heyer, as she was one of many struck by a speeding car that targeted those who were standing up to alt-right protesters.
Instead of immediately condemning the violent protests and the white supremacists responsible for them, American President Donald Trump danced around the issue for the better part of two days. After much media and societal pressure, Trump finally took direct aim at the issue on Monday by calling racism “evil” and classified “the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups” as “repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.” Some were relieved to finally hear this sentiment, while others viewed it as a political move designed to save face and not appear sympathetic to white supremacists – which the U.S. President has been accused of in the past.
Before Trump changed course on Monday afternoon, the Charlottesville protests were discussed at length on ZoomerRadio’s current affairs show, “Fight Back with Libby Znaimer.” Joining the conversation was Michael Diamond of Upstream Strategy, as well as Human Rights filmmaker Martin Himel (“Jew Bashing,” “Persecuted Christians”).
Himel – who has interviewed white supremacists for his projects – spoke about how such individuals are often times very fearful of making their views known in public. However, he noted that Trump’s inability to immediately disavow those responsible for the violence in Virginia would likely galvanize people connected to the alt-right.
“The thing that struck me with these white supremacist groups, is when I tried to reach them – which was three or four years ago – they were intensely frightened and suspicious and scared to come out in public,” recalled Himel. “They would always come out on the Internet and cyberspace, but to actually meet people and to talk to you, it would only be in a public place.”
He continued: “When I met Alex Linder from [pro-white supremacy media outlet] Vanguard [News Network], it had to be in a place called Truman Park in this tiny town called Kirksville. They’re very, very frightened. They’re very, very scared. But, that’s going to change now, because whether Trump meant it or not…the fact that he [immediately] didn’t take a stand on it and gave [white supremacists] sort of a wink, that’ll be a tremendous impetuous for them to come up with more demonstrations like [in Virginia]. Because, that fear factor, that deterrent factor, that society pointing a finger at them factor, is going to dissipate. They’ll be more emboldened now to [take part] in more demonstrations.”
Visit visiontv.ca/human-rights for a closer look at Himel’s work and other human rights documentaries that have premiered on VisionTV.
In the meantime, you can listen to Himel and Diamond’s full interview with ZoomerRadio’s “Fight Back with Libby Znaimer” below: