Virginia hits the news this weekend, along with the eternal presence of Donald Trump on the front pages yet again, both for all the wrong reasons. True, what happened in Charlottesville belongs to the internal issues of the USA but what happened in Charlottesville is also representative of the challenges faced by Humankind. Time for reflection?
Firstly, the players: the Unite the Right movement, the statue of General Lee and the White Supremacists. The issues: Removing the statue of General Lee, who fought for the Confederacy in the America Civil War (and in favor of slavery) - a cultural question and an internal one for the local authorities to decide whether to retain or to remove a symbol of repression, racism and white supremacy over African Americans, or to regard it as a symbol of cultural and historical heritage in a chapter of the development of the nation?
The facts: What had started off as a dubious movement, Unite the Right in protest against the removal of the statue, turned out far more sinister, with the event being hijacked by marauding gangs of White Supremacists, Fascists and racists who demonstrate primary, knee-jerk reactions against people of a different race, or color, or creed, or sexuality, or nationality, or ethnic group, or cultural expression.
We see it every week in city centers around the world - slogans scrawled on walls, inane songs and chants bawled at sports matches, drunken, shirtless hooligans sitting outside drinking establishments with beer glass raised in hand, mouthing off against gays, or Moslems, or Jews, or Pakistanis, or the supporters of the "other" soccer club in town, or French food, or "Europe". Or "Blacks".
The manifestation of intolerance at Charlottesville can be seen anywhere and everywhere, demonstrated by the type of thug we saw in the videos: swearing at those supporting an opposing view, exploding in violence, including punching and kicking women and some idiotic youth driving a car into a crowd, destroying a family by taking away a life and destroying his own life by being stupid.
And stupidity is the bottom word and the common denominator which links together all those who find the urge to manifest aggressivity and violence when faced with the unknown, when faced by something different, by someone or something outside their limited spheres of existence, something or someone perceived as a threat to their limited lives, something or someone that has to be destroyed because it cannot fit into their tiny boxes which sum up their reality and identity.
To welcome difference and to dialogue with diversity requires more intelligence than one might expect from the type of person who identifies with stereotypes and becomes violent as the first pangs of discomfort appear at what is understood as a threat and a challenge when something unknown or misunderstood crosses her/his path. Now for the photo-shoot and let's see what we behold:
The descent of the language level to grunts, monosyllables describing body parts, bisyllables describing bodily functions, fists clenched and pumping the air, eyes glaring under a frown, lips curled back to reveal the teeth, chests puffed out to look bigger and stronger. Primary. Watch any insect.
Google up a video of an ape or a troop of apes and you will find something similar, or identical. So are we in the era of stone age Man? The Paleolithic? Medieval times? No, we are in the Third Millennium, in the year 2017.
What are our education systems doing, churning out specimens such as we saw at Charlottesville, and such as we see every day elsewhere around the world? Certainly, they are not representative of Humankind in general, perhaps do not deserve to belong to Humankind at all but the fact that they exist everywhere to varying degrees and with varying degrees of stupidity, ignorance and incomprehension, and are frighteningly commonplace, means that after twelve or thirteen years of schooling, our systems are creating vapid morons with homicidal tendencies.
Time for reflection?
Photo: Slaves waiting for sale, Virginia
*Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey has worked as a correspondent, journalist, deputy editor, editor, chief editor, director, project manager, executive director, partner and owner of printed and online daily, weekly, monthly and yearly publications, TV stations and media groups printed, aired and distributed in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal, Mozambique and São Tomé and Principe Isles; the Russian Foreign Ministry publication Dialog and the Cuban Foreign Ministry Official Publications. He has spent the last two decades in humanitarian projects, connecting communities, working to document and catalog disappearing languages, cultures, traditions, working to network with the LGBT communities helping to set up shelters for abused or frightened victims and as Media Partner with UN Women, working to foster the UN Women project to fight against gender violence and to strive for an end to sexism, racism and homophobia. A Vegan, he is also a Media Partner of Humane Society International, fighting for animal rights. He is Director and Chief Editor of the Portuguese version of Pravda.Ru.