BIPOC are dying at disproportionate rates despite shutdowns and it’s clear why white supremacists want to reverse stay-at-home orders. They want us dead.
Decked out in their ugliest American flag-themed outfits, right-wing, conservative, libertarian, fascist, white supremacist, white nationalist, and nazi protesters have gathered in different state capitols around the country to rail against state and local stay-at-home orders put in place to avoid further spreading of Covid-19 which continues to wreak havoc across the U.S. for lack of essential resources, social safety nets, widespread testing, and treatment.
Counter-protests led by healthcare workers stressed the dangers of the protests (most protesters refused to wear masks or practice social distancing) and the importance of respecting stay-at-home orders to flatten the curve to ensure that hospitals don’t become overwhelmed by patients. Local hospitals around the nation are struggling to obtain personal protection equipment (PPE) and are under-equipped, lacking the necessary ventilators to keep Covid-19-affected patients alive.
From California, to Colorado, to Pennsylvania, armed militiamen gathered on the steps of state buildings, blocked the entrances of hospitals and created traffic jams and were mostly met peacefully by police forces. The overwhelming messaging is scattered but has one common theme: state shut-downs are restricting their personal freedom (to die and spread disease), and as a result protesters have twisted pro-choice rhetoric, openly promoted anti-semitic conspiracy theories and touted anti-vaxxer sentiment.
While many people gathered to protest stay-at-home orders, most of the protests also acted as small re-election rallies for the current president who voiced his support of their messages on Twitter—calling them “great people” and calling back to his admiration of the neo-Nazis and alt-Right terrorists after the deadly Charlottesville rally—and encouraged the anti-government (but pro-white supremacist/nationalist) stances of his base.
Many of these messages promoted at the rallies are based in several core beliefs: 1) that blood sacrifice for the settler-colonial nation-state of America is essential to maintaining the white supremacist, imperialist, capitalist, cisheteropatriachal ideas of liberty and liberation, 2) that the American consumer is entitled to all non-essential services even if it increases the spread of the virus and disproportionately affects Black, Indigenous and people of color already deeply impacted by the lack of access to healthcare, and 3) the eugenicist belief that there are “more important things than living” and that the “weak” should be “sacrificed” to further the nation’s genocidal existence.
RECOMMENDED: Apocalyptic Whiteness, The Scope of Right-Wing Violence, and Trump’s Stochastic Terrorism
Liberty, to the protesters, to Trump, and many others, beyond the points listed previously, is the “liberty” to work, and as one Twitter user put it, “Only in the US does ‘liberate’ mean ‘go back to work.'” Sacrificing workers’ lives in service of capitalists and the capitalist system they worship is seen as a worthy endeavor to people and governments which value laborers’ productivity over their lives. If the protesters’ goal was truly liberation, they would be protesting for access to universal healthcare, paid leave, mortgage and rent freezes, the decarceration of people imprisoned and detained in exceptionally dangerous conditions, housing for all houseless people, and proper protocol and working conditions for essential workers on the frontlines of the crisis. They would be protesting against the government’s piracy of PPE for healthcare workers, against Trump basically asking Governors to grovel and kiss his feet for access to resources, against heightened police and state violence, and many other issues which if properly addressed would facilitate the resolution of this pandemic much sooner.
Trump’s cult-like following continues to reveal his base’s often contradictory ideology, much like his own consistent self-contradictions. Conflicting ideologies is the nature of narcissistic white supremacists, though. The aim is always to dig their heels into whichever argument benefits them, even if that argument contradicts previous arguments. Facts are not obstacles for them because white supremacists, especially the conspiratorial sort, have always been adept at reframing narratives and creating mythologies to rationalize their own worldview. This is how they are able to utilize pro-choice rhetoric and imagery from The Handmaid’s Tale at these protests without recognizing the irony involved. It’s empty symbolism in their hands because they don’t actually embrace any of the politics of liberation and choice behind these symbols. Despite the conflicting ideologies they all embrace one thing: white supremacy, its interwoven oppressions and the maintenance of it at all costs.
Scattered narcissism-based shifting ideologies with only avid support of white supremacy, capitalism and the continuation of US exceptionalism and imperialism, has led to a pandemic that will take much longer to limit and will kill far more people than if action had been taken seriously and swiftly. By not focusing on the most pressing issues, the far right’s only aim is to assert their whiteness, to be contrarian, to throw very public and dangerous tantrums and inevitably, intentionally and specifically disregard the lives of the most marginalized. It is their continued investment in the death cult, and how better to illustrate that than Congressman Trey Hollingsworth of Indiana who stated that, “it is always the American government’s position to say, in the choice between the loss of our way of life as Americans and the loss of life, of American lives, we have to always choose the latter.”
These right-wing, conservative, libertarian, fascist, white nationalist, and nazi protesters are so clearly demonstrating the white supremacist nature of the US. The structural oppressions and lack of action to dismantle them are in service of maintaining the status quo. As Black, Indigenous and people of color continue to die at alarming and disproportionate rates despite state restrictions in place, it should be perfectly clear why Trump’s base would want to reverse stay-at-home orders. They want us dead.