A Stubborn Irishman’s View: Charlottesville Retrospective

I recently wrote an article on the riots in Charlottesville, VA.

I was compelled to write the story, yet it was challenging, as I grew up in Charlottesville. My dad got his PhD at the University of Virginia. We kept season tickets to the football games. I had many of my boyhood firsts in that town.

I moved away when I was 16 and began traveling. As time went by, my friends and family moved away. I visited less and less. Every time I visited I was shocked to see how much it had grown and how hard the town had worked to erase its history, as if Thomas Jefferson did not engineer the University of Virginia.

I started Friday, August 11th like I start every day: drinking my coffee while checking emails, news, weather and a sprinkling of social media. I was shocked to discover coverage of my hometown in all the media outlets. I went to work and spent the day thinking about it, taking notes, and drafting initial pieces of the story.

By the time I got home I had several pages to work with, which I ended up editing down to only a few usable sentences, but kind of went a different route, attempting to remain non-biased. I wrote an article regarding the riots but instead of submitting it I wrote this.

The tragic events that occurred in Charlottesville that weekend served as a lesson to me, one which changed me for the better. All the versions of this article have a common denominator, which is that slavery is fucking terrible. Racism is wrong, prejudice is harmful, bigotry is hurtful.

The more I wrote it, the more I focused on it.

My first attempt explained how much it saddened me that the beautiful town where I grew up had such hatred in the streets and campus, a historical treasure built by our forefathers.

I explained that I grew up playing under those statues with friends of many colors, back before the world was black and white.

I wrote how we know Thomas Jefferson isn’t the majestic hero our grade school textbooks made him out to be, but he was a founder of our nation and author of the declaration of independence, although it took a century to amend, another century to enforce and the beginning of this century has been turbulent, but he was the great initiator.

In the main article I tried to wrap my head around the concept of an “inception of brainwashing”, a form of government conspiracy where not only people are brainwashed with political propaganda strewn with religion via media frenzies regarding ethnicity, sexism, sexual orientation, gender identity, pretty much anyone different than reality tv stars, but we are brainwashed into believing everyone else is brainwashed against us.

Whether it’s a conscious experiment or a bi-product of the imbalance in our government, the Orwellian forecast is a propellant for social upheaval.

And that is heart breaking.

I concluded my article by suggesting anyone interested in trying to grasp American racism should watch Morgan Freeman’s interview on 60 minutes. His philosophy of how to get rid of racism is to stop talking about it. I’ll stop calling you a black man and I’ll ask you stop calling me a white man.

It is not black history, it is American history.

I put my heart into that article, and I think it would be worthy of publication. I am writing this article because the thought I put into it changed me, and that is a story in itself.

I was one of the victims of the brainwashing inception. I had begun thinking that carpetbaggers from the north wanted to come down south to drink our milkshake and we didn’t want politicians on Capitol Hill telling us what to do in our back yard.

Then it occurred to me, that while our government has its imperfections and is currently a non-sustainable institution, it was devised to be protect us.

When southerners ran their plantations with slave labor, it was the duty of the United States Government to say, ‘No! Slavery is prohibited’.

One could argue that it was a scam designed by northerners, many of whom owned slaves as well, to exploit the majority of US agriculture in a certain geographic location so the corporations up north had a scapegoat when the people revolted for the sake of humanity. That would be a superfluous designation with a foreseeably futile outcome and a waste of resources to boot.

One bad apple spoils the whole barrel.

Some intellectual southerners will claim the abolition of slavery was merely a bi-product of the civil war. Right out of the pages of Orwell’s 1984, “who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past”, history is constantly being rewritten, more so now in this technological era where the leading reference web browser can be edited by the public.

They would say the south simply wanted independence, none of those damn carpetbaggers who don’t know what’s good for them. They wanted each state government to be the authority responsible for their people, with the federal government having far less power, focused more on international affairs.

As Utopian as that sounds, if a nation gives the people the authority to govern themselves, eventually powerful forces will exploit the weaker tribes and regions will team up to preform barbaric rituals. Inevitably, the nation will have to create regulations, reigning in their wayward people and upholding the law, based upon human decency.  History is important to me.

I do not support censorship and freedom is my axis.

I want to treat others the way I want to be treated, which can be difficult. I want to respect other people’s opinions no matter if they contradict mine. I want my countrymen to stop fighting. We will be so much stronger as a nation if we can work together.

 

That is why I rewrote this article.

We all know slavery is bad.

We all know the extremists are misguided humans filled with negative energy.

That hurts me as a human being and it hit close to home when I saw footage of a car ram into a crowded intersection of the downtown mall and kill counter-protestors, on the street corner where I had my first kiss.

It changed me.

It made me stronger, wiser, and more compassionate.

The month I lived in France was a humbling experience that changed me forever. For the first time in my life I struggled to communicate and navigate. Stepping out of my comfort zone was invigorating and it changed me forever. I gained a profound respect for anyone with the courage to break out of their comfort zone and really experience life.

Likewise, as I wrote my article, researched the current event, experienced the event, I could picture myself there, with my family and friends. I would encourage my loved ones to stay indoors but I’d feel compelled to go punch Nazis.

I felt ashamed to be proud of my history.

I am compelled to condemn anything associated with southern pride of heritage.

Blood has shed on those city streets over the past two and a half centuries on many occasions for the same reasons. We as a society are failing to progress.

I urge anyone who reads this to heed my words and consider your own perspective. I’m a stubborn Irishman, and I can change.

Every family in America has an immigration story.

 

All citizens have a right to be here.

The foundation of cultural sustainability is cooperation with one another and building strength from diversity.