OUT IN THE OPEN

Fri., Aug. 11, multiple white nationalist groups march with torches through the UVA campus in Charlottesville, Virginia. Photo: Mykal McEldowney/The Indianapolis Star via AP.

BY PUMA PERL

Saturday night, August 12, 2017.

Community Garden 6th and B.

We make music, we make art.

The events of the day reverberate.

 

Somewhere in this country,

Someone’s making a picket sign,

Someone hears the car crashing,

Someone’s making the world’s best pizza.

Someone’s living, someone’s dying.

Someone’s pulled over for Driving While Black.

Someone’s assaulted for being gay or trans

or a person of color or weak or old or female.

Someone’s placing a white pointy hat

upon a toddler’s head.

 

The President tweets.

Charlottesville. Sad.

 

Almost a year ago, we sat in this same Garden

as a bomb exploded in Chelsea.

Since then, the country spun on its head,

landing on the right.

And sometimes we stagger, unable to keep up

with the chaos, the threats, the rotating cabinet.

 

Last weekend, in Indiana, I asked my friend,

What’s it like here?

They do it out in the open now, she replied.

 

Today, young men, hatred twisting their faces,

wore swastikas, carried torches, shouted expletives,

waved Confederate flags, Nazi salutes and chants.

Jews will not replace us. Blood and soil. Sieg Heil.

The Ku Klux Klan, and the neo-Nazis marched.

Cops without riot gear, White Supremacists without hoods.

They do it out in the open now.

 

Counter-protesters. Car crashing into the crowd.

One dead, 19 injured.

Two police officers killed by the end of day.

 

The President says,

We must look at all sides.

 

We are all horrified.

Only the privileged are surprised.

Fascism hides in plain sight.

Learn what the oppressed already know.

They are coming for you.

 

In the Garden, four drunken guys disrupt the show.

I keep one eye on them, the other checking exit routes.

Are there guns? Will that beer bottle crash across a head?

When they shift or wander, my back stiffens, I wonder

if I can take one down from behind as they move behind the tree

They’ve already been 86’d from everywhere, I’m told.

Even the old Mars Bar.

You had to be really fucked up to be 86’d from the Mars Bar.

I’ve dealt with many drunks before, maybe even with these guys.

But the country’s polarized and the sides have been armed

and they do it in the open and paranoia sets in.

 

It all starts with words.

Hate speeches, propaganda.

Marcuse called it “a prologue to the massacre.”

Like it did in Nazi Germany, the distance

between words and actions grows shorter.

 

We must NOT look at all sides.

There is no time to compromise, to understand, to tolerate.

 

A marching hatemonger, shown in a photo gone viral, explains,

As a white nationalist, I care for all people.

We deserve a future for our culture and our children.

I’m not the angry racist they see in that photo.

 

Yes, you are that angry racist.

Whites have always owned the rights.

And you’ve gained permission to show it.

Out in the open.

 

In the Garden, I bring my words and music to the stage.

The four drunken guys become enraged.

One of them wanted to play.

They stand up and shout and a guy more bad-assed sober

than they are drunk throws them all out.

Our night ends with “Wichita Lineman”

and continues with whiskey.

 

In Virginia, people lie in hospital beds watching the news.

Heather Heyer’s community mourns.

Her mother describes her as fun-loving.

I was always proud of what she was doing.

The Nazi sympathizer who killed her sits in his cell.

His mother watches his cat.

She said she tries to stay out of his political views.

 

On Sunday, the President comes to town.

Traffic will snarl.

Some people will protest,

some will stand on the beach, waiting,

or on street corners, puckering their lips,

taking selfies.

 

Somebody’s living, somebody’s dying.

Somebody’s making the world’s best pizza.

 

Somebody’s placing a white pointy cap

upon a toddler’s head.

 

Out in the open.

Spread the word:

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