#106: This Is America
Good morning, and welcome to The Highlighter #106. Today’s issue focuses on Charlottesville. In an interview this week, Bryan Stevenson emphasized that we have not yet confronted our country’s narrative of white supremacy and our tragic history of racial inequality. We must. I am hopeful that the pieces in today’s issue of The Highlighter will spark reflection and conversation.
Charlottesville: Race and Terror
I believe in the power of words. But sometimes we need images to feel the full emotional impact of what is happening in our country. In this video for VICE News Tonight, correspondent Elle Reeve followed white supremacists last weekend in Charlottesville. Featured is self-identified fascist Christopher Cantwell. This is a disturbing, terrifying video that I urge all of us to watch. (22 mins)
Historical Amnesia About Slavery Is a Tool of White Supremacy
After Dylann Roof killed nine people in Charleston two years ago, the Confederate flag was removed from the South Carolina state capitol. Since last weekend’s Unite the Right rally, dozens of Confederate monuments have been toppled. According to Mychal Denzel Smith, however, our country forgets quickly. We may revile slavery, but we do not revile its defenders. That is why, Mr. Smith argues, Virginia celebrated Lee-Jackson-King Day from 1983 to 2000, honoring Martin Luther King alongside Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. (5 mins)
Pismo Beach, California
Whose Heritage? Public Symbols of the Confederacy
According to this detailed report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are 1,503 monuments, statues, schools, holidays, and places that are named after Confederate leaders. There are 53 schools named after Robert E. Lee. The Confederate flag flies in six states. There are nine Confederate holidays. These symbols are not neutral markers of history. These symbols are not curated in a museum. They are in public spaces. (21 mins)
Equality, Justice and the First Amendment
As Google and GoDaddy ban The Daily Stormer, and as SoundCloud bans Richard Spencer, we may wonder why the American Civil Liberties Union still supports rallies like Unite the Right. In fact, the ACLU has a long history of defending Neo-Nazi groups and their right to assemble. This open letter by ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero does a good job explaining the organization’s stance. I would love to hear your views on free speech, hate speech, and what kinds of speech should be protected under the Constitution. (7 mins)
Podcast Update: Did you miss last Sunday’s episode with teacher and librarian Michele Godwin? I hope not! (If you did, don’t worry. It’s still available.) Michele and I talked about smartphones and her limitless hope for young people. If you like the podcast, share it with your friends and subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Google Play. (Guests are booked through November!)
That’s it for today’s issue of The Highlighter. I hope you found an article (or video) that pushed your thinking. Feel free to let me know your thoughts below. Also, let’s please welcome new subscribers Wendy, Kelli, Haroon, and Yoon! Have a wonderful week, and I’ll see you back here next Thursday at 9:10 am with another set of great articles.
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