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Charlottesville, Skinheads, White Supremacists, Trump and Idiocy

I'm having a lot of emotions about what took place in Charlottesville, Virginia this weekend. None of them are good or positive for the direction of the United States. The GOP rode a media whore, a second rate TV "star", and lifelong con artist to the White House to help advance their agenda -- of which they have no idea how to implement.

The biggest problem is, Trump is a well documented racist that tries to help legitimize FOX News and Alex Jones and every racist thing in between. What these media properties all know is that a) division works and b) some people of faith will believe anything. Trump pushed the Obama birther theory, he declined housing to African Americans and he employs employed a racist in former Breitbart employee Steve Bannon. I'm not going to get into his circus of racists on staff including Gorka and Miller, because they aren't worth the words.

I have a lot of conservative friends that voted DRUMPF with hopes he'd bust up Washington. And instead, he's busted up America. Charlottesville didn't ask for this. Racists, including David Duke, drove hundreds of miles to show their racism. The worst of the worst internet message board trolls -- all white guys -- showed up dressed like our Golfer in Chief to defend the removal of a racist monument. 

But wait, what? How was the scheduled march in Charlottesville to preserve a Confederate statue racist?

Well, let's start with the fact that General Lee fought to keep slavery. That's super racist. And even worse, his team fucking lost. It's like building a monument to a racist Jake Delhomme (who's not, for the record) except it's worse because it's fucking ridiculous to celebrate ignorance.

In Germany, after Hitler was defeated, his statues and swastika symbols were abolished and made illegal. Here in the U.S., where we apparently have no standards, we tolerate racists flying the Confederate flag. There are many of them around here in the sticks of New York. It's sad, it's pathetic, and these folks who can't rub two nickels together cling to the one symbol that they're still better than blacks. It's fucking sick.

But I digress.

I didn't think I understood racism when I was younger. I was first introduced to pro-white racism when I was a teenager. In the city of Center Line, Michigan, there was a store called John's Snake Pit. John sold candy and t-shirts and bootleg tapes and VHS cassettes. I'm sure the old man had more illegal shit in the back but I was okay with sticking to the bootlegged music. I still own the cassettes that I bought from there - R.E.M. played an underground show as "Bingo Hand Job" and had Robyn Hitchcock and Billy Bragg on the bill as well. It was one of the best music purchases I've ever made.

John also sold bootlegs of every band that came through town, including one called Skrewdriver. I hadn't heard of them until a friend who was working at a college radio station called and told me I had to listen to this super racist shit he was sent. Of course the Detroit-based college where I incidentally graduated from wouldn't allow it on air. One of the classics on the cassette included "When The Boat Comes In", a song in which this British punk band felt blacks should leave the U.K. immediately. It's awful. Sadly, I found it so outrageously stupid that it was funny when I was a teen -- only because it was so absurd. I was wrong. It's not funny. Even with my demented teenage brain, that told me hitting mailboxes with a bat was a good idea, I knew it was wrong. Skrewdriver had been banned in some countries from playing shows because they incite riots amongst racists.

Flash forward to my Senior year of high school and on the first day of our last year of high school a classmate decided to go from Vanilla Ice to GG Allin in a Summer. He went from a shaved eyebrow and Skidz and a dance team and gold chains to a shaved head, white t-shirt, red suspenders, military issue khakis, combat boots with white laces and racist tattoos. At a Catholic school, no less.

Derek also decided he loved his country so much that he enrolled in the military. He ended up doing Basic Training the Summer before college and was part of the ROTC at Eastern Michigan University.

He got up every morning to run around campus with his fellow enrollees and then spent his mornings collecting bottles and cans, which in Michigan are worth 10 cents apiece, so he could have beer money. I asked him how boot camp went given his new found racism.

He said he had a black drill instructor who relentlessly called out his racist tattoos, one of which included Death waving the Confederate flag. This strong, black man showed this ignorant white boy who's boss. And his opinion changed. Sort of.

I then met his friend on campus, Ed, who refused to brush his teeth and hated black people. I've always hung out with the punks because they are anti-authority and I get them as opposed to the country club, silver spooned group that uses elitism and connections to get ahead. Ed was different, though.

I had a Public Speaking course in which we were paired up into teams. My team was me, Ed and a smart kid from Boston named Edward. We worked on our speeches together and talked and got to know one another; Ed, the skinhead, and our classmate, Edward, who once opened for the Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff as a DJ. And yes, Edward was black. And he was smart and cool and talented. And Ed respected him.

Derek had invited a couple of skinheads he knew pre-Basic Training up to campus. They were part of an organized effort to provide security at pro-Nazi punk shows. These guys had to be at least 22 and were pretty big, Eastern European guys. And of course, they had shaved heads, wore airman infantry jackets and Confederate flags.. These guys bought a keg and as such, Derek, Ed and these two guys got loaded. I'll get back to this story in a minute.

On another night, I was with my group of punk rock friends - Mike with the blue mohawk, Jeff with the 12" mohawk, and me with my commercial bob haircut which was at the time, well, I think you get the point. That night on the EMU campus was a riot in which an Ypsilanti gang made its way onto campus and interrupted the black fraternity event that was taking place. There were cops and people everywhere. My friends and I, walking campus, were in the middle of it. 

I met a former NBA player during this nonsense. He was part of a frat that was pledging and was on campus. He was about a year out from playing and came back to hang out until the rioting started. Derrick Dial was his name. At any rate, the campus of EMU near the gymnasium was absolute chaos.

We heard a gun shot and everyone scattered except for me and my friends, because we had never heard a gun shot and felt invincible. Moments later we then saw kids that had nothing to do with the situation being dragged off into the woods to get beaten by the cops. It was consistently white cop beating black kid. Repeatedly. We walked past them as it happened, did nothing except think "Wow, that's awful" and went about our way. We were bystanders in yet another racist incident in America's history.

In fact, when I was a kid, my former childhood neighbor who's a retired Detroit cop once said he and his partner used to walk the beat on 7 Mile and randomly grab black people and club the shit out of them. Just for reference. Again, I digress...

So, it was actually fairly surreal given that my white friends and I were standing there in the middle of this chaos and none of us even had an inkling of a notion that the cops might grab us. I learned about White Privilege in college, fwiw, and also that when a black kid is beaten or murdered there's very little repercussion for doing an illegal act provided it's against non-whites.

Going back to Ed. Ed was a kid that said he never brushed his teeth because GG Allin was his idol. So, one night, we was hanging out with our group and Mike said he had to pee. So he did, right in the middle of the EMU Freshman dorms in the diag. Ed then said he had to pee as well. And he did. And at some point a ballpoint pen landed in the middle of all of the pee. And Ed wanted the pen but wasn't sure how to get it out. I asked him, "What would GG do?".

Ed walked into the middle of the pee, grabbed the pen and licked it. 

So we of course lost our minds and then asked what else GG would do?

Ed decided to roll in the pee. Clothed. It was weird and startling and I felt like I understood Ed at that moment. He was mentally ill. 

Going back to our class together, I asked Ed why he had no problem with our black classmate given that he's a skinhead. He said "I don't hate black people, I guess I just hate lazy people", to which I responded "Are there lazy white people?" and he concurred. So, why the get up?

Ed was also huffing butane, dropping acid and came from a very broken home. I think the skinheads got to him while he was impressionable because during the next semester he met a girl and he grew his hair out, stopped hanging out with skinheads and even brushed his teeth. And he then disavowed racism. So yes, women are better than men. But again I digress...

I later found out that the security skinheads that visited campus had, while drunk, broken several windows and beat up several kids on campus. They were arrested and went to jail, as they should. These were Ed's old "friends".

This was in Fall of 1991. So, as you can imagine, we'd like to think that times have changed. Or have they? This whole thing is not new. Charlottesville was beyond chaos. And we have an acting President that doesn't think they did anything wrong. In fact, he tried to compare the plight of the racist white person to that of the black person who's tired of losing a family member due to racism by members of the police force. The American Dream doesn't exist unless you're white, apparently.

Finally, while I was in college I felt pressed to find a job in marketing. I was a court clerk but it wasn't quite satisfying my itch to pursue a career in my major. Perusing the Detroit Free Press and News classifieds, I saw a job for a Marketing Assistant and applied for it. Lo and behold, I got the job but it was not the kind of marketing job I wanted - it was as a telemarketer for an IT staffing firm based in Clawson, Michigan. My job was to go through stacks of corporate contact sheets and cold call them hoping to place an IT professional. Mind you, my background in IT and programming was limited to modifying bulletin board systems in the 1980's at the time. I had no idea what AS 400 was - and still don't to this day - but my job was to see if they had any openings for someone that knew what the hell it was.

The job was based on number of minutes spent on the phone, which those who know me would believe I'd be great at it. Unfortunaely, I wasn't. And to say others realized it within their first day would be an understatement. People jumped ship worse that what's happening with Trump's Administration. At one point, a young African American female came in to interview. I let her into the office, got her a cup of water and asked for her resume. I delivered it to my boss, Jeff, who's a large man with red hair and a trimmed red beard. I noticed that this candidate was a recent graduate from the University of Michigan with a degree in Marketing.

"She's pretty qualified, right?" I asked.

"Looks good on paper," Jeff replied. "Send her in."

The next day we had an all staff meeting to discuss workloads and efficiency as well as to do some training. Jeff put in a video cassette that had to have been recorded in the 1970's based on the trainer's shirt collar, gold watch and pinky ring, and left the conference room.

"Repeating something back to the customer is a great way to get them to buy in," he explained. "You like this car, don't you?" he asked. "See, I know they want to purchase this car so I'm taking them down a path to saying 'yes' repeatedly." It's a technique that works on the unsuspecting and uneducated quite well. In IT staffing? Not so much.

The training video wasn't a parody, but everyone in the room found it to be hilarious. Jeff re-entered the room, flipped the lights on and asked what we learned. We regurgitated the talking points from the video and before the meeting was adjourned I asked Jeff about the young woman with the Marketing degree from Michigan.

"Yeah she's not working here," he retorted.

"Really? She seems really great on paper and to be honest overqualified for this job," I said.

"I ain't hiring no f*cking n*gger," he jabbed.

A co-worker almost spit out his coffee and said "Whoa! Jeff!? That's some racist shit right there, no?"

"Proud and upstanding member of the Fourth Reich out of Indiana," Jeff stupidly admitted.

I began looking for work elsewhere that afternoon.

So, why did I write this? Well, I think many people have stories where they've seen racial injustice. And instances in which they probably could've done more to stop it. I'm guilty on both counts.

And because, if we're talking about moral authority and leadership, it's downright unacceptable for the President of the United States to not call the incident in Virginia what it is. The Virginia Governor spoke strong words disavowing it and telling these racists pieces of garbage that they are not welcome in his State. 

We take every other race and religion and categorize them based on a principle of White values, but at what point is it anti-American? We do have laws and rights and this President, who is woefully unqualified to lead anything beyond a MLM scam, has refused to say "Yes, this is wrong and the KKK and their ilk should be classified as domestic terrorists". 

This country is broken. You can hate DC all you want but the alt-right has taken us into 1930's Germany. Those are facts. Please argue otherwise.

I do hope that one day our children will be the ones to rid our country of such hatred and ignorance. One can only hope there are better days ahead.

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