Aug 15

One of the very first stations to pick us up after we moved to Austin was 106.1 The Corner in Charlottesville, an eclectic AAA station. I listen to them every so often, and it’s a community-oriented friendly place, reflecting the lovely city in which it broadcasts.

We air there Sunday mornings at 8:00 and, as far as I know, we aired this last Sunday. (It was a show that had been recorded prior to any of the events.)  About eighteen hours earlier, Heather Heyer, who lived in Charlottesville, was killed by an American Nazi, maybe a mile or two from the station, based on my maps app.  She was standing up against the white supremacists and Nazis and Klansmen who had infested her city. She was–and is–a hero.

The Nazis and white supremacists and Klansmen were not “very fine people,” none of them, as the president asserts. They were carrying torches. They were chanting “White lives matter.” They were chanting “blood and soil.” They were chanting “Jews will not replace us.” They were there specifically to try to strike fear into the hearts of people of color, of LGBTQ people, of anyone who isn’t like them.

My grandparents, Gordon and Alma Hartrick, are pictured to the right on their honeymoon, on which they hiked miles to see Mount Rushmore under construction.  Upon their move to Arkansas, they were foster parents to many children in southeastern Arkansas in the era of de jure and de facto segregation. An African-American child in the community suffered burns at one point, and my grandmother brought the child to the clinic for treatment. Someone from the Klan saw it and, for no other reason than being offended by my grandmother’s humanity towards a child, they burned a cross–twice–in my grandparents’ yard.

There is a direct line from those people to the people who killed Heather Heyer, who attacked dozens of others, and, yes, to Dylann Roof. These are not “very fine people.”

I am a straight white guy.  I cannot and do not pretend to know what it is like to be a person of color or a person who’s marginalized in just about any other way in the United States.

I know that by being born white and male in the United States, I started off with a huge advantage–born on third base, as our great former governor Ann Richards said (possibly quoting Barry Switzer), though I try to remember that I didn’t get there by hitting a triple, as the quote concludes.  (Incidentally, fellow white guys, it is possible to simultaneously recognize that you got super lucky just by being born how you were and be proud that you worked hard to do what you’ve done.)

I’m constantly befuddled about how to deal with events like this on what is, after all, a silly radio show for children.  I don’t know if I get it right.  But this time, for this weekend’s show, it’s going to be almost entirely music performed by artists from groups of which I am not a member: people of color, LGBTQ people, immigrants. It’ll include some songs on point with the events, but it will also include some songs of hope, even if that’s not an emotion I’m feeling a ton of right now. I probably won’t talk about Charlottesville; I don’t know what I would say, and, again, it’s a silly radio show for children and it’s not my place to talk to kids about this. Parents can decide if they want to point out the songs we’re playing to their kids, if they decide that the songs have a place in that conversation.

This weekend’s show will not include this song, but I feel compelled to include it here.  Do not play it for your children, unless you are pretty flexible on the swears front.  I’m including this particular live version because–32 years ago–Jello Biafra addressed the nonsense that Nazis are patriotic.  “Phony patriotic rednecks are what brings our country down.”


Charlottesville listeners: We love you.

Other listeners: We love you.

Nazis: Well, listen to the song above.

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