This happened a while ago, but I just came across an extremely wrong and offensive blog post describing a protest at a Confederate monument in Gainesville, Texas.
The author, Michelle H. Davis at Living Blue in Texas, repeatedly uses the terms “white supremacists” and “racists” to describe people who demonstrated their support for the Confederate monument. She uses these terms as if they are simply non-controversial, factual terms for these demonstrators, but the use of these terms is completely false and therefore defamatory. There is nothing racist or white supremacist about supporting the Confederacy or defending its monuments. It is possible that someone could support the Confederacy for racist reasons, but it is just as possible (and actually more likely) that one would support the Confederacy because the Confederacy rebelled against the federal government. In other words, I (and many other people) support the Confederacy because it stands for the values of liberty, freedom, individual rights, resistance to authority, and thinking for oneself as opposed to mindlessly conforming to social norms and complying with existing power structures. That is what the Confederate flag and Confederate monuments mean to me, so it is completely unwarranted to assume that anyone who supports these things is racist.
Davis also describes the pro-Confederate group as “counter-protesters” with derisive quotation marks as if to imply that they are not actually counter-protesters. Given that these individuals were demonstrating their opposition to a different group who were advocating for the removal of the monument, they actually were counter-protesters, and there is therefore no need to insultingly put this term in quotes. She also falsely calls the counter-protesters “domestic terrorists” and describes one of the leaders of the counter-protest as a “moron,” which is a completely classless way to describe one’s ideological opponents. Plus, she posts pictures of counter-protesters and asks readers to contact police if they recognize them, which is a form of harassment and bullying.
Davis claims that the pro-Confederate group “were clearly the aggressor,” which is false because necessarily, the group that is advocating for the removal of a statue is always the aggressor in any conflict. She complains that police “picked a side, and it wasn’t the side of the people who were against racism, against slavery, and wanted a fair and equal society.” Davis seems to presume that the anti-monument protesters were the ones who fit this description and criticizes the police for siding with the pro-monument protesters. But this characterization is false. Both sides in this conflict were equally against slavery. Judging by the fact that in her blog post Davis makes racist statements such as “there is a lot of actual history that white people were never taught,” she and her side are actually more racist than the pro-Confederate demonstrators. And the anti-Confederate demonstrators were actually advocating for the exact opposite of a fair and equal society. Advocating that a powerless, unpopular minority group be further marginalized and their history obliterated is as far from fair and equal as you can get.
Finally, Davis describes a “hilarious” instance during the protest in which an anti-Confederate demonstrator taunted those who were defending the monument:
“The most hilarious thing is when she’s [sic] yells at the racists, ‘Yay! America!,’ then all the ‘counter protesters’ cheer, then she says something about how America kicked the Confederate’s ass. All of the white supremacists stop cheering and with a solemn face, just stare at her in silence. Crickets. How telling is that?”
In addition to the fact that Davis incorrectly uses the words “racists” and “white supremacists” and inappropriately puts the words “counter protesters” in quotes, I’m not exactly sure what her point is. The counter-protesters reacted negatively when the anti-Confederate demonstrator mentioned that the United States defeated the Confederacy. This reaction was entirely appropriate. The Union’s victory over the Confederacy was an instance of a powerful government trampling on the underdog. It was an instance of a people being denied their right to form an independent country and being forced to remain part of another country against their will. Why would anyone brag about this? Anyone who considers it a good thing that a powerful, oppressive government defeated a justified, courageous rebellion is a bully and an authoritarian. So yes, this incident is telling. Just not in the way Davis thinks it is.