by Jonathan Krall
A: We in Grassroots Alexandria, along with our allies in Christ Church and other groups, hold rallies to oppose white supremacy and Fascism on the 2nd and 4th Sundays each month. The protests are held at King and Patrick Streets in Old Town, near the residence and offices of our local Nazi, Richard Spencer, and the National Policy Institute. We are often questioned. Here are some answers.
Q: What is Fascism?
A: Robert Paxton, who is widely considered the father of fascism studies, defined Fascism as “a form of political practice distinctive to the 20th century that arouses popular enthusiasm by sophisticated propaganda techniques for an anti-liberal, anti-socialist, violently exclusionary, expansionist nationalist agenda.”
Q: What does white supremacy have to do with Fascism?
A: Similar to the Nazi persecution of Jewish, gay, or other groups of people in Germany, white nationalists in the USA want to deport or lock up Hispanic, Muslim, Jewish, African American, and other peoples. Richard Spencer has been clear: he wants to turn the USA into a “white enthno-state.”
Q: Are you disrupting businesses in Old Town? Are you costing them money?
A: Our Anti-Fascist Team volunteers, and our allies, protest for one hour, twice a month, from 12:30 to 1:30pm. To minimize our impact on businesses, we begin on time, end on time, and keep the sidewalk clear.
Q: What are you trying to accomplish?
A: Our aim is to make progress against the white nationalist agenda and to do so in a way that very publicly targets Richard Spencer. First we raise awareness. Next we ask City Council to take common sense action, such as passing the proposed Police Data Transparency ordinance.
Q: What is “police data transparency?”
A: The Alexandria Police (APD) collects demographic data on arrests. A coalition of community groups is asking that we also reintroduce collection of data whenever someone is stopped and questioned and that we produce timely reports. This will support a much-needed conversation about policing and race. National and Virginia-wide statistics show that over-policing of minority communities is very real. Over-policing of minority communities serves the white supremacist agenda by targeting exactly the people that Richard Spencer opposes.
Q: Isn’t white supremacy old news?
A: Many citizens do not recognize the success of the white supremacist agenda. Even before the 2016 election, Hispanic families, especially mixed documented/undocumented families, were under tremendous pressure to self-deport or emigrate. Muslim communities were subjected to extraordinary surveillance. Black communities were devastated by over policing, also known as The New Jim Crow. After the election, the violence has only gotten worse.
Q: Shouldn’t we be more worried about Fascism than white supremacy?
A: We should be worried about both. After the 2016 election, some of our white friends told us that they feel unsafe, perhaps for the first time. Some of our non-white friends tell us that they never felt safe. The principle of intersectionality tells us that opposing either aspect of white nationalism helps us all.
Q: isn’t this Fascism thing overblown?
A: The brief and informative book, On Tyranny, Twenty Lessons from Twentieth Century, outlines very current and very real threats to democracy. One example is lesson 10, “Believe in truth.” Supporters of the current White House constantly push back against basic facts. This may seem like harmless political posturing, but it opens the door to loyalty challenges.
Imagine being approached by a group of thugs. The lead thug gives you a shove and asks you a challenge question: “I think the big investigation in Washington is a ‘nothing-burger.’ What do you think?” How do you respond?
Whenever anyone, on any side, trades personal integrity for a chance to be accepted by “the in crowd,” we are all diminished. It is up to each of us to support accurate journalism and to speak up for the truth. If we do so before we are threatened with violence, we can more easily come together to support democracy.