“There’s no moral equivalency between racists and Americans standing up to defy hate and bigotry.” – Senator John McCain

As with many complex topics, unpacking serious issues can require a lot of words that strain comprehension and incite defensive feelings over a controversial subject.

Dave Pell, the writer of NextDraft, boiled down the essence of discussions surrounding the radical white acts of terrorism that took place in Charlottesville, and the presidential reaction to them (or specifically, the lack thereof). His insight is from a progressive viewpoint, but wanting a better community is universal to any city, and aptly applies to Milwaukee’s historical condition and current social situation.

With so much divisiveness between Republican and Democrat, rural and urban, conservative and liberal, each side is defensively trained to think it is right and vilify the other. But there are some issues that are not equal, and not a matter of perspective. More than 600,000 Americans died in the Civil War. Both believed their side was righteous, those who fought for freedom in the name of God and those who fought for slavery in the name of the same God. In this context, Pell challenges us that there is no moral ambiguity to the choices we are faced with, and the reality that people will need to pick a side.

Dave Pell’s Ten quick thoughts about Charlottesville.

  1. People ask “Can it happen here in Milwaukee?” It has happened here.
  2. There is a name for a person who fans the flames of racism, but only for personal gain: A Racist.
  3. Donald Trump did not directly cause this incident. But he enabled it. The day Trump realized the false Birther narrative was resonant with a lot of voters was the day the Charlottesville march started.
  4. I’m not on all sides. I’m on one side. This is a moment for every American to pick their side. The one positive thing about Trump is that he has clarified our values. You cannot be sort of against racism or pretty much against white supremacy. You cannot vote for a guy who is racist and not be racist.
  5. The Trump era is a speed bump along the progressive road towards a better country. History’s tide will not be reversed. But those statements will only be true if we make them true. The gains made by progressives over the past decade were not easy. And the next decade will be even harder. The Union did not win the Civil War. It is winning it. The fight for social justice ebbs and flows, but it never ends.
  6. Trump loves to talk tough about everything from fellow Republicans to using nuclear weapons. Pay attention to the people he is not willing to talk tough about.
  7. If you are still trying to maintain a false equivalency between the so-called bubbles, you are missing the point.
  8. Progressives vastly outnumber the haters and the alt-right nuts. But we need to be willing to fight. I am all for love and unity. But what we need right now is strength in numbers.
  9. The media did not amplify the white supremacist movement. Trump did. And he continued to do so this past weekend by failing to call it by its true name.
  10. At least now you know what we’re up against: Vote.

Pat A. Robinson

These 1975 photos were taken by legendary Milwaukee photographer Pat A. Robinson in Humboldt Park. The Nazi banner said “Smash Busing” in protested of the effort to desegregate Milwaukee Public schools.