We who will defeat white supremacy

The following is a speech given by JVP member Mark Mishler at an “End White Supremacy” demonstration in Albany, NY on August 13th. This rally was planned in less than 24 hours to respond to the violence in Charlottesville, with active involvement from a number of local organizations – the Capital District Coalition Against Islamophobia, Citizen Action, Democratic Socialists of America, Jewish Voice for Peace, and others, and endorsed by a wide range of local organizations. There were about 500 people at the rally. Speakers included representatives from a number of the sponsoring groups, as well as feminist and anti-racist scholar and activist Barbara Smith, Rev. Marc Johnson (a local African-American pastor and environmental activist), and many others.  

I am pleased to speak today representing Albany Jewish Voice for Peace.

JVP is rooted in the social justice traditions of the Jewish community. We are committed to fighting against racism, white supremacy and anti-semitism and for Palestinian human rights. JVP stands with all who face oppression and stands against hate, violence, misogony, homophobia, and Islamophobia.

JVP knows that anti-Jewish hatred in this country comes from the right wing; that it is part and parcel of the ideology of white supremacy. We know that our struggles are linked.

All of us here today believe in solidarity.

We all believe in building a world without racism, a world in which all are free to enjoy human rights, to enjoy life, freedom, peace, self-determination, and in which all are able to live to without fear of hate-based violence, oppression, genocide or exploitation.

Charlottesville has brought home our connections.

Violent white supremacy – and there is no other kind of white supremacy, it is, and always has been, by definition, by ideology, and by practice, violent – is rooted in the entire history of our country. Since the late 1800s this ideology has focused, obsessively and horrifically both on the use of violent terror against the African-American community and hatred of Jewish people.

This weekend’s torch bearing mob was motivated by racism and anti-semitism. They engaged in violence, they chanted hateful slogans about Black people, chanted “white lives matter”, and, in what may seem odd to those who have not followed violent right wing ideology, this mob chanted two other slogans: “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us.”

“Blood and soil” was a slogan of the German Nazis. It symbolized their twisted, genocidal vision of a white, Christian, aryan “master race”. It is racist and anti-semitic and signifies hateful violence. Why would anyone repeat that slogan?

“Jews will not replace us”. What does that even mean? Who is the “us” referred to in the slogan? Like all such slogans, this is premised on lies, distortions, stereotypes, fear, and hatred. It is premised on de-humanization. De-humanization is a pre-requisite to violence and genocide. The white supremacists have no “us”. They have nothing. They know nothing. They are nothing.

But, they will be replaced and defeated.

They will be replaced and defeated by an “us” that is more powerful. The “us” is all of us.

We – the “us” who will replace and defeat white supremacy – recognize the particular historical and present harm and oppression experienced by African-Americans as central to our nation’s history. We demand nothing less than full recognition of the value of Black lives. Our future as a country depends on this.

We who will defeat white supremacy welcome immigrants and refugees to our country.

We who will defeat white supremacy reject the concept that Jewish people, solely by virtue of being Jewish, are less than human and are, somehow, the cause of our country’s problems.

We who will defeat white supremacy condemn the militarization of the police, the absurd hyper use of jails and prisons in this country as a means of social control, the theft and diversion of resources from the human needs of our communities, the oppression and denial of human rights to women and the LGTBQ community, the degradation of our environment, and the use or threatened use by our government of weapons of mass destruction.

And, we commit ourselves today and into the future to the memory of all who have died or suffered at the hands of racists, white-supremacists, anti-semites or of any other nothings who deny and de-value the humanity of any people.

We will always remember Charlottesville. Not for the horror. But for the people that stood up against horror and right-wing terrorism.

We will never stop fighting for a world of peace, freedom and liberation. We will be united. We will win.

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