The attacker who rammed his car into our crowd of antifascist and antiracist activists in Charlottesville isn’t just a white nationalist, and isn’t just a racist. Based on available information, it seems evident that he is likely very, very sexist. Film has surfaced of attacker James Fields chanting about “white sharia,” a white supremacist slogan that refers to forcing women to consider themselves the property of men, without basic rights. In addition, reports have surfaced that Fields had committed acts of domestic violence against his mother, who uses a wheelchair.
Yes, the “Alt Right” movement that he is a part of is not only exceptionally racist and hateful, but they hate women, too. All of that hate was in the poisoned heart of a 20-year-old video game player who drove into human beings as if he were playing Grand Theft Auto.
I was standing about ten feet away from the chaos when Fields rammed his car into our march. Earlier in the day, we had endured dozens of street fights, resulting in the white supremacists being pushed out of their special park with their little Confederate statue. We had succeeded in claiming the park and taking away their platform, and then the police decided to declare the assembly unlawful and pushed everyone out, including a handful of outnumbered white supremacists still hanging on to one corner of the park. An hour or two later, several hundred people were marching in victory laps through the streets of Charlottesville, remaining as a powerful presence in case the right wing regrouped and mobilized again.
I was talking with a few activists near the front of the march when screams ripped through the air, followed by a series of loud crashes. I saw a minivan moving into the center of the crowd and people running in terror. I dashed to the driver’s side of the minivan as another vehicle sped away in reverse. I flung the door open, planning to halt the vehicle by parking brake or other means, only to see the terrified driver exiting the vehicle on the passenger side. Then I looked at the crash damage, and realized what had happened. A few heart-racing moments later, I was holding a shade cover over an older white-haired woman with a crushed leg and a head wound, who had several antifa and civilian medics huddled around her providing care. She was covered in blood.
Later, as we picked up the pieces, collected our friends, and washed grime and pepper spray residue off of our skin, the world learned that there had been a death that day. “Rest in Power #HeatherHeyer” instantly became the only thing on anyone’s mind. Tears mixed with blood.
We all know that James Fields is a sick young man. Before he crashed his car into our march, he had been filmed chanting “white sharia now!” while standing with the hate group Vanguard America. The movement for “white sharia” is popular among far right men, and has been largely popularized by the notorious “Alt Right” website, the “Daily Stormer,” which is now making headlines since their host GoDaddy removed their website from the platform.
“White sharia” is an extreme form of oppression of women. Its name is based on a vague understanding of Islamic “sharia” law and hazy ideas about how women are treated in certain hardline Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, where women’s rights are violated every day by the state and religious authorities alike. The extreme oppression of women is actually what many want in their little white “ethno-state.”
If these extreme white supremacists get their way, women will not be allowed to own property, vote, keep their income, sign legal contracts, or have careers or meaningful work in the public sphere. They will not have any legal standing, except as dependents of whatever man they are stuck with. Extreme language on the “Daily Stormer” website goes far into the violence and brutality that they wish to impose upon women. For any woman who is not virginal and submissive enough, they suggest “rape gangs,” torture, and abuse. Their brutal fantasies include not allowing women to leave the home, and focus all of their attention on children, homemaking, and the needs of men.
The “white sharia” movement is the product of frustration among men, to be sure, but it’s also due to the fact that the white nationalist movement faces a problem: They will have to make a lot of white babies to build their little ethnostate, but they definitely don’t have a significant number of white women in their movement. No, their movement is a sea of white guys. The uncreative solution that unscrupulous members of their movement have decided upon is just forcing white women to do their bidding.
I wrote an article about “white sharia” and its implications. There is a less offensive type of “white sharia” which they just call “traditionalism.” This is an effort to appeal to white women, who they think they can woo with some sort of twisted romantic notions into giving up our rights. But it is the same thing, as noted by “Alt Right” personality Emily Youcis:
“If we don’t act with immediate force, we will die out,” said Youcis. “At first I thought I would like ‘white sharia’ to be temporary, for it to eventually work its way to being a ‘trad’ society (traditional) in the vein of Victorian, where we don’t necessarily have to force our women to marry and breed, but then I realized that ‘trad’ society is synonymous with ‘white sharia.’ No ifs, ands, or buts.”
Some people think that “white sharia” must surely be a joke. Well, I guess it could have started that way, but it has quickly gained followers among the frustrated boys of the “Alt Right.” I actually had an unpleasant argument with one of these young delusional supporters of “white sharia,” and caught it on video. He proves the point that there are true believers of “white sharia” out there. And if you identify as a woman, that should scare you.
Now evidence has emerged that Fields has committed domestic abuse against his mother, who uses a wheelchair. His mother called 911 several times because she was being physically threatened by Fields, as told by the Washington Post:
“The 911 records indicating Fields’s teenage outbursts, first reported by the website TMZ, cover police calls made while Fields and his mother lived in Florence, Ky., about 20 minutes southwest of Cincinnati. In the past year, they moved near Toledo. The records seem to indicate that he was arrested and held in juvenile detention after the November 2011 call.
In the 2010 call, Bloom reported that her son had struck her in the head and threatened to beat her after she told him to stop playing video games. Bloom said her son was taking medication to control his temper and told authorities that she was locked in the bathroom.
In October of the following year, Bloom called 911 to say that her son was “being very threatening toward her” and that she didn’t feel “in control of the situation,” according to a dispatcher’s notes.
And in November 2011, police were asked to come to the house because Bloom was said to want her son to be assessed at a hospital, according to the records. He had spat in her face, said the caller, whose connection to the family is not clear in the records.
The previous night, Fields had stood behind his mother with a 12-inch knife, the caller reported.
“Scared mom to death not knowing if he was going to do something,” the dispatcher’s report continued.”
Where did this movement against women come from? Well, “Daily Stormer,” the website that was the most prominent supporter of “white sharia” has lately come under urgent scrutiny.
On the day after her death, when the rest of the world was in mourning for Heather Heyer, the “Daily Stormer” website, the site that had promoted “white sharia” was busy woman-shaming her and victim-blaming her. In the cruelest terms imaginable, they criticized Heyer for just about everything, unbelievably shaming her for not getting out of the way of Fields’ car. According to the byline, this hateful drivel came from twisted, sad, and malformed mind of Andrew Anglin – not a junior staff writer, but the editor and founder of the popular “Alt Right” publication. In this hateful article, they showed the world exactly who they were. Finally, the world noticed, and GoDaddy decided not to offer them web hosting. No home, no platform, no quarter for Nazis.
The website had also targeted me. After I wrote an article about the hateful “white sharia” movement, the website posted two articles about me to attempt to woman-shame me. (They don’t realize that I am immune to their poisonous remarks. I believe in the strength of my dreams, and I’ve been inured by fire.) These two articles drew upon the work of previous right wingers who have “doxxed” me, and tried to slander and intimidate me, to get me to stop organizing publicly as an antifascist activist and an anarchist.
So I can imagine how the family of Heather Heyer, and all who loved her, may have felt. The blatant fabrications and bald-faced lies of their articles, not to mention the shocking, abusive, graphic, and just plain gross language, is enough to stir a lot of emotion in the best of circumstances. But dealing with that harassment while dealing with grief? All I can say is that the survivors of Heather Heyer are showing a hell of a lot of grace right now.
Standing in the chaos after Fields had rammed his car into our march, I didn’t know that Heather Heyer was laying on the pavement somewhere nearby as her life slipped away. (There are accounts that two antifa medics tried to perform lifesaving CPR on her, but were pushed away from her by police who were trying to “secure the area,” whatever that means. How many people die each day from police violence, and from police denying aid to someone who is dying while they treat everyone in the vicinity as a criminal?) Fields was speeding away in his car as if it were a road rage video game, while a reporter looked me in the eyes and said, “this is a national tragedy.” And a new word was on people’s lips as well: terrorist.
Terrorists are very often found to have engaged in domestic violence and abuse. “Given they had no trouble with killing countless strangers, it is not surprising they terrorised the women in their lives,” writes a columnist for The Guardian.
Fields killed a woman. Not just a person, a woman. My mind draws links between the hateful disregard for human life, the awful rhetoric of “Alt Right” mainstays like “Daily Stormer,” the disgusting bigotry of white supremacy, the desire to deny others the right to exist, and sexism, and the “white sharia” chants, and the violence that he inflicted against his mother.
Where does all of this point? They point to someone who feels entitled to violate, abuse, and subjugate. They point to someone who desires power and control over others. I would call that person a fascist. You may call them a totalitarian, an authoritarian, or just a jerk.
We must continue to oppose fascism, white supremacy, and racism. But we must also see the links to sexism and oppression of women that runs ominously through the minds of these horrible people.