“Charlottesville Violence An Act of Terrorism” By now, most have heard about the tragic outcome of the “Unite the Right” protest in Charlottesville led by white supremacist groups. One person is dead, 19 are injured after a man ran over a group of counter-protesters in what the Charlottesville police chief has called a “premeditated” attack. News outlet The Root has reported that African-Americans were beaten by white supremacists during the events. There is only one word to describe this violence: terrorism. While no universal definition of “terrorism” exists, there is a general understanding of its meaning; terrorism is unlawful violent action perpetrated by a group in pursuit of political aims. Running down protesters is an act of terrorism. Beating black bodies is an act of terrorism. Because the assailants are white does not change this reality. Condemning the horror in Charlottesville does not change that our nation has, once again, experienced acts of domestic terrorism. Critiquing violent acts is an easy stance. Yet, the events in Charlottesville force a more important introspection. Are the foundations of the “Unite the Right” rally so different from attitudes shared in other, similarly majority-white towns? As the Vice Mayor of Charlottesville explained, the removing of a statue of Robert E. Lee was not what truly sparked the violence at the protest. Instead, it was Charlottesville’s centuries-long history of white supremacy. The terrorist ideology perpetuated during pre-Civil War America, Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights movement is alive and well today. President Trump has yet to explicitly denounce his white supremacist allies. While we may think the events in Charlottesville are miles away, its ideological roots are much closer to home. Challenging white supremacy is important. But challenging its foundation, especially in a town like ours, poses a more prescient question: “Are we so different?”

Austin Mejdrich, Charleston

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