History is written by the victors. But not always timely.
The Civil War ended 252 years ago, yet we are still fighting the culture war that was underlying it. Last week I wrote about a movie that showcased the lynching of Frank Embree. This week the headlines are screaming about the white supremacists who rallied in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the death of a non-violent protester who was run down by some young man in a car.
The Civil war ended with the surrender of the Confederacy, but not all hearts and minds were changed at the conclusion of the “war of Northern aggression” as many still refer to it. Here we are, 252 years later, and there are still those who would gladly return to the days of slavery.
A crowd of mostly young, mostly male, all white thugs decided to rally against blacks, Jews and gays this weekend. The exhibition of the Confederate flag and the Nazi Flag was a painful sight for many.
We cannot, pardon the phrase, whitewash, history. It is what it is. America has to accept its dark days of slavery and we do need to address the wrongs that were, and still are, perpetrated. We need to teach our youth far better than we have, the value of knowing history and why wars were fought, why people died, and how to judge a person’s true worth by their character, not their skin color. One they have control over, one they don’t. It makes as much sense to judge someone based on their skin as their height, no one can control their height – it’s an objective fact and not suitable for determining any character traits.
I’ve written before about the young men at my gym who are rabid Trump supporters because “he wants to deal with the Muslim problem.” These young men, Jewish boys who live mere blocks from the Museum of Tolerance see nothing wrong with making Muslims wear badges or identifying them in some way. My immediate reaction was of revulsion, contempt and dismissiveness of them. But upon reflection, I cannot blame them. They are in their 20’s, the age at which we send young men to die with dreams of glory and tales of heroism.
We take young men and gin them up into rabid killers, precisely because they are so easily motivated and brainwashed about “the enemy.” Young men will go to war based on nothing more than a good story, some tales of perceived wrongs and the chance to act out their urges to fight and prove their worth. To make an old man willing to fight you have to really convince him of the justness of the cause, you must get past his life experiences and into a deeper sense of outrage.
When I look at these young men, with cocksure attitudes on what is wrong with the world and how to fix it, I see myself at their age, but I also look to their parents who have not taught them well. There is no deep thinking going on, no seeing the similarities to the Holocaust, no understanding that registries and databases, beget yellow stars and pink triangles all too easily. But then they didn’t even know what the pink triangles were for, I had to explain that to them.
The pictures out of Charlottesville were shocking, painful, and made me cry. The fact that this blind hatred is still present in my America is disappointing. However, there is one image that should be a Pulitzer Prize winner. It is of the crowd of young white men, carrying their Swastika emblazoned flags and crude handwritten signs of anti-Semitic hate walking on the sidewalk, protected by a railing while a black police officer stood facing the camera, assuring that the protesters were safe. This is the image of a true American. I have no idea how that officer felt. There is no indication on his face of his thoughts, feelings and concerns, but I can say that no matter how he felt, that day he was more of an American, than any of the Swastika waving, Old Glory flying white boys, no matter how far back their family genealogy goes.
As he stood there, defending those people’s right to state their opinion, no matter how distasteful, he was the guardian of our country. He is a true American.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310/664-9969.You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra