When a person chooses to embrace an ideology grounded in race, the main goal is power over another group of human beings. Racial ideologies always claim to be motivated by a higher good; this self-flattering illusion only serves to hide the immorality of their acts. The only real thing here is power.
Those were the thoughts in my head as I reflected upon the White Lives Matter rally that I had the misfortune of attending in Huntington Beach two weeks ago. When this perfect day for the beach had ended, all that was left in the streets was the residue of racial hate. In the hours prior, many Americans shouted profanities and ideological cliches at one another with no genuine attempts to find common ground. Instead, they left behind cardboard signs with scrawled social justice messages on the sandy sidewalks as they returned to the comfort of their homes with their ideological hatreds renewed.
The reason why I drove down the coast from Los Angeles to Huntington Beach was my desire to learn what kind of people embraced White Lives Matter. Were these people genuine White supremacists or were they amateurs fighting identity politics with more identity politics? It was widely believed that it was these folks who posted KKK fliers around town and in nearby cities, prompting the antiracists to announce their own counter-rally two hours before the 1 p.m. start time for the White Lives Matter rally.
When I arrived at the pier, the antiracists began their rally on time with well-intentioned platitudes about choosing “unity and community” over allowing their city to become a city of hate. As the speakers continued, I kept looking across the street at the main drag running through the heart of Huntington Beach for signs of the White Lives Matter rally. I saw nothing.
At 1 p.m., the lead antiracist speaker proclaimed a victory of sorts since nobody had shown up except for a few guys holding 20-foot poles with the US, Trump 2020, Don’t Tread on Me and All Lives Matter flags. I was about to call it a day when a steady stream of antiracists began crossing the street toward the Trump supporter holding the biggest flagpole.
At first, the Trump supporter, a tan, fit man with perfect white teeth, seemed to be holding his ground as the antiracists and media gathered around. He spoke of how “all lives mattered” but dropped hard into conspiracy land when he asked if we knew about the starved, emaciated children beneath the White House or that Jeffrey Epstein was still alive.
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Why were we giving this man the time of the day?
Yet the crowd around the Trump supporter grew. In the eyes of the antiracist ideologues, where everybody is a racist unless they swear allegiance to the tenets of antiracism, he was a White supremacist that had to be destroyed. Someone yanked the man’s flagpole down and the antiracists tore at the flags like starved dogs.
Then a neo-Nazi with a swastika proudly tattooed onto his forearm waded into the antiracist crowd and, for a moment, they did not know what to do with the real thing. After several scuffles, the neo-Nazi punched a man in the face and was soon handcuffed by the police.
As the descendant of Holocaust survivors, what fascinated me about this neo-Nazi was how unapologetic he was in his hate. I later found out his name is Andrew Charles Nilsen III and that he had been arrested several times, including the time he terrorized a Black man in San Bernardino years ago. I do not know if Andrew was raised in hate by his parents but it was clear that he had molded himself into a true believer of the White supremacist ideology. He deluded himself into believing that he was a moral man holding aloft the White race while the rest of the world drowns in filth. The danger of this perversely irrational belief is that the more moral Andrew sees himself, the more he can hate those not like him.
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The one question that kept bothering me was why would Andrew come down here when he knew he would be confronted?
It was only when Andrew was led away by the police that the full nature of the antiracists began to emerge. One of the key tenets of the antiracist ideology is that one must proactively fight racism, and it is this tenet that grants its adherents the cover of moral virtue. For the antiracists, the two main symbols of systemic racism and racism are the police and White people.
The antiracists began to chant “all cops are bastards” at the police who had just arrested a neo-Nazi minutes earlier. Then, in what can only be described as a hunt, the antiracists began to target the locals.
In one extended confrontation, an antiracist with bright orange hair and oversized glasses that kept sliding down her nose targeted a lady old enough to be her mother. Backed by her similarly minded friends, the antiracist demanded to know if the lady was a racist and scoffed when the lady replied that “all lives mattered.” The antiracist escalated her verbal assault, lecturing the lady that if she was not on the side of the oppressed then she was on the side of the oppressor. The lady refused to submit.
If this situation could not get more bizarre, the same antiracist shouted, “f–twelve,” “White supremacists,” “Nazi” and “Free Palestine” at a nearby man draping himself in an Israeli flag. When she saw she was not going to get his scalp, she shrieked at him several more times before moving on to flipping off the police some more.
She was one of the purest personifications of antiracism that I had ever seen in person. Like Andrew, she was a true believer and there was no hesitation in her words. What was most jarring was that though the words that she used were mostly of the humanitarian kind — fight racism, fight White supremacy — the effect in the end was hate. That was all the people felt coming from her and they either recoiled or yelled back. What made all of this more disturbing was that she had never met any of these people before and it never occurred to her to witness their character before judging them by their external qualities. In this regard, how was she any different from her sworn enemy, Andrew the neo-Nazi? And why had she come down to Huntington Beach if her only purpose was to demonize everybody that crossed her path?
One of the dangers of racial ideologies in free societies such as America is that one must surrender certain freedoms in order to submit to such an ideology. Growing up, it was not uncommon for me to hear stories of how Blacks felt a certain sense of pity for their oppressors during the days of Jim Crow. These Blacks could see that their oppressors had given up so much of their humanity and that they had betrayed the principles of America in order to enforce White supremacy. Many of these Blacks refused to subscribe to racial ideologies and chose instead to march for equal rights for all; they understood that the bedrock American principles belonged to all men and that they represented the best avenue for betterment of our society.
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Andrew and the antiracists have chosen not to follow that path, and perhaps that is why they both came to Huntington Beach on that Sunday. One often forgets how much hate is like love. Love needs love in return or it withers, and the same is true for hate. Andrew and the antiracist need each other more than anything because it is their hatred of one another that justifies their narrow existence and strengthens their belief in their ideologies. It is these two forces that continue to hold the rest of us hostage, leading to the rapid decline of our civic discourse. The only way to stop this is to follow the example of the 1960s multiracial Civil Rights movement and find our moral courage to stand up to these racial ideologues.