Send in the clowns

By Lacey Williams, Youth Programs Manager

On November 3, 1979, five protest marchers were shot and killed in Greensboro by members of the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party.  The marchers had been attempting to organize black industrial workers in the area.

Nearly 33 years later, members of the National Socialist Movement (NSM) and local members of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), are planning to rally in Charlotte against “illegal” immigration. According to the NSM, the United States should put an end to all non-white immigration and should forcibly remove non-white people from the country. While the message (“immigration”) may be new, the target is still the same (“non-whites”).

It’s hard to believe that such groups still exist in 2012, let alone still slither out of the backwoods to make a rally in the big city. It’s important to note that, nationally, white supremacists are gaining in numbers, even if their target audience is shrinking as a whole in our country.

Nevertheless, local immigration advocates will be pushing back on these white supremacists. This Saturday, advocates will meet the NSM and KKK head on to counter-protest their hate speech and dangerous ideology. And they will be dressed as clowns.

Clowns?

Yes, clowns.

Holding signs exalting “White Flour,” “Kite Power,” and “Dwight Howard,” activists will confront hate with humor.

The reason?

While racism and hate are serious business, hate groups coming to our city is just ridiculous. To quote a popular internet meme, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”  So if they plan on bringing their clown convention to Charlotte and make a mockery out of civic discourse while there is real policy work to be done, then we plan to supply the clowns and extra-awesome mockery. Moreover, to hold a belief in white supremacy is to be worse than a clown. The type of rhetoric these groups espouse does not work to move our country forward. We reject such divisiveness.

And while many will say that advocates protesting these white supremacists are only lending credence to the groups, we respectfully disagree. Hate should never be left unchallenged since silence so often is construed as consent.  We must also not forget that there are only shades of difference that separate these hate groups from elected officials like Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James and Arizona State Senator Russell Pierce, both opponents of immigrants, both outspoken racists.

We choose not be silent, but we also choose to battle their hate with humor. And clown noses.

Our clown convention will start at the Children and Family Services Center at 2:30 p.m. We will walk over to Old City Hall at 3pm.  We’ll be bringing the clowns to clown convention that is white supremacy.

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