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Doomed in Whiteville: Editorial by Warren Buchholz on upcoming Richard Spencer visit

White nationalist Richard Spencer will visit UF tomorrow, Oct. 19. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

I couldn’t sleep again last night. It’s been the trend for the entire week, and I couldn’t figure out why until this morning when I turned on the news. Richard Spencer speaking in Gainesville is the main topic. I’m also going to a conference at UF the same time he’s giving a speech on the opposite side of campus.

Well, shit. Lightbulb.

I have two jobs. I co-own an improv comedy theater where I make people laugh. My 9 to 5 job is to help my students fulfill their potential and become better people both professionally and personally. But I haven’t done either this week. I can’t. I’ve failed at it. And, you know, if this wasn’t recurring and if we didn’t continue to ignore our racial disparity, then maybe I’d pull out of the spiral, and I’d be able to sleep. But I didn’t.

I am afraid. Actually petrified. What happened in Charlottesville is about to happen on our back-doorstep, folks. Tomorrow, white nationalists–Nazis–will show up in support of Richard Spencer and the message he will give in Gainesville. It’s a simple message: cause chaos and destruction to ensure that us white people are still in control.

Protesters, Antifa, Nazis, students, and residents will march the streets all weekend to fight for what they believe in. That’s not the scariest part. Florida permits concealed carry and stand-your-ground laws. If anyone feels threatened, things will get ugly.

Maybe I’m overthinking the situation. Maybe I’m anxious for no reason. Maybe no one will get hurt. Maybe I’m being overly preachy. But I can’t ignore this feeling in my gut. This is serious, folks. Go read the alt-right websites. Go read Twitter. No one knows what will happen tomorrow, but if we use the events of Charlottesville as an example of what could happen, then we should be scared shitless for what’s to come.

We’ve hit a nerve, and we are in desperate need of a root canal. A black man took the highest position in office for 8 years, and we were this close to electing a woman for the first time. Fear, anger, and hatred have boiled to the surface, spilling over into our everyday lives. We’re quickly realizing we’re not as progressive as the collective United States claims to be, and we need to start changing that.

I do have hope. It’s important to continue our dialogue on our current state of disparity and sordid hatred that leads to the mass violence we’ve been experiencing. Continue our support within our communities in anyway possible. Volunteer, donate, step up and be a foot stone for the underprivileged. And vote. Damn it, vote! We can only begin to change our laws and our current situation if we abandon our archaic and destructive zeitgeist.

We’ve bombed countries to keep Americans safe. We’ll do what we can to keep our borders safe. We will do everything it takes to make sure our country isn’t harmed by foreigners. We want walls, and bans, and trillions of dollars for our military to divert “radical Islamic terrorism.” But when it comes to white terrorism happening within our borders, we fall silent (almost every mass shooter in the past 20 years, save one or two).

We cannot continue to fall silent. We cannot let white terrorism win. Period. We cannot stop our lives because of what they destroy. We cannot stop going to festivals, and theaters, and schools, and churches, and hotels. If we do, they’ve won. If we stop protesting and standing up for our beliefs, they’ve won. If we allow any of these nationalists to become martyrs for their own causes, they’ve won. Don’t let this happen. We need now more than ever to do what we can to combat hate, bigotry, racism, and phobias that hurt our American citizens.

The damage we do to ourselves far outweighs the desperate and twisted narrative of terrorism and bloodshed we’ve been feeding ourselves for decades.

I will be there tomorrow afternoon to fight for what I believe in, and I urge you to stand up to fear in any capacity possible. Our inequity needs to change, people. We need to take a kneel, then stand up and protect our LGBT, women, people of colour, and all minority populations.

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