Charlottesville: Courage, risk, return

August 14, 2018


The headlines about Sunday’s rallies in Washington, DC were a relief:

“White-supremacist rally near White House dwarfed by thousands of anti-hate protesters”

“Vastly Outnumbered, Small Band of White Nationalists Exits Early”

“‘Unite the Right’ flops while the left triumphs”

A year after white nationalists wreaked havoc in Charlottesville, all they could muster was a group of two dozen people for a short march and an even shorter rally.

This outcome wasn’t inevitable — thank you to everyone who organized and joined counter-protests in Charlottesville, in DC, and around the country. It took courage to show up, to risk marching in the streets, to return to the synagogues that had been surrounded last year by neo-Nazis chanting threats and parading swastikas.

Bend the Arc marched alongside Jewish activists in DC who created a massive Emma Goldman puppet and a banner with the Yiddish slogan "We Will Outlive Them." We chanted "Vey Izmir Vey Izmir / Racists are not welcome here!"

But while their power is reduced in the streets, white supremacist ideology continues to be championed by the Trump administration and embraced by the Republican party. As Politico reports this month:

Indeed, the Republicans in Congress who distanced themselves from Trump during the height of the [Charlottesville] controversy last summer have since embraced the president on tax reform and his Supreme Court selection, Brett Kavanaugh ...

Trump is in high demand on the campaign trail, endorsing Republican candidates at rallies where he often continues to exploit the racial divides.1

That’s why Bend the Arc launched Interrupt Trump 2018, a massive Jewish grassroots effort to flip the House. You can join thousands of progressive Jews who have already signed up to interrupt white supremacy, fascism, and bigotry in the midterm elections: pledge to volunteer now.

Bend the Arc supporters at one of our leadership trainings this summer

As a Jewish woman of color, I know how high the stakes are for the future of our democracy and our community’s place within society.

Just this week in Missouri, Steve West — who promotes antisemitic conspiracies on his weekly radio show, claiming Jews are harvesting baby parts and saying "Hitler was right," with a website littered with Islamophobic, homophobic, and racist diatribes — won the Republican primary for a seat in the state legislature.2

This weekend shows that protest works: a year of counter-organizing and public pressure helped keep neo-Nazis from taking over the streets. Now we must keep our eyes on the midterm elections this November, where we can interrupt the spread of white nationalism in our government. The best way to flip the House is to go door to door and hit the phones to defeat members of Congress who are, in word or deed, enabling an agenda of white nationalism.

The fight for an inclusive multiracial democracy — using tactics from visible public protest to local organizing with a national impact — is why I joined the staff of Bend the Arc this summer as our new Chief Strategy Officer. I hope you’ll join this urgent fight of our time by signing the pledge to volunteer to interrupt Trump this November.


1. Politico, The real lesson Trump learned from Charlottesville
2. The Kansas City Star, 'Hitler was right': KC area winner of Missouri House primary leaves trail of bigotry