With the rest of you, we were appalled at the explosion of domestic terrorism in Charlottesville, VA, in recent days. We mourn for the life of Heather Heyer, and are praying for her loved ones and for the recovery of the dozens who were injured under attack by white supremacists.
As we mourn, we are also moved and inspired by the incredible courage of the unarmed people and clergy who stood their ground against what amounted to a small militia of Nazi-sympathizers and modern KKK members. We all need this kind of moral courage as we face both the climate and political turmoil ahead.
This was an intentional act of terror by those who gathered to celebrate our country’s long and ongoing history of white supremacism. The seemingly senseless violence, like all terrorism, had a terrible logic to it.
These acts were meant to discourage people from affirming that every human life is infinitely valuable, and working to build a world that reflects that. Within the climate movement, we must acknowledge every day that we don’t yet live in that world.
We named ourselves the Climate Mobilization in direct reference to the WWII homefront mobilization to fight fascism in Europe, a time when this country recognized an evil, came together to fight it, and won. As we work to overcome the intertwined, state-sponsored evils of ecocide and racism, let’s remember that though white supremacy is part of our history, so is the work of taking it down. We can choose to embrace that side of our history, or let organized racism try to erase it.
We aren’t doomed to repeat the horrors of Nazism, any more than we are doomed to see the climate crisis annihilate life on earth. But only if we face the truth and name the evil plainly, can we choose to fight.