I wanted to flesh out a little more of what I said in my last post about Heather Heyer. The second part of Trumps “tribute” was that she would be remembered. I hate to say it, but she won’t.
I don’t say this to be cruel, or to say her life or death was meaningless. I’m not going to say there won’t be a Heather-sized hole for the rest of her friends’ and families’ lives, what I’m saying is for the people who only know her as a name on the news, she’ll become “that girl who did that thing.”
In six months, Justine Sacco went from being the most hated woman on the internet to being “that woman that made the bad AIDS joke,” to being “who?” Can you tell me what Ken Bone did? Can you tell me the name of the person who sold McDonald’s Szechwan Sauce on eBay? (Did you even know he plans to give the money to charity?)
So save me your canned outrage. Heather Heyer died a hero, and she’ll be both memorialized and forgotten like the names on a war memorial or a civil war cemetery. If we’re lucky, she’ll have a scholarship, a library, a street name, or hopefully a foundation named after her. But for anyone outside of Charlottesville she will be largely forgotten. I’m not saying it’s a good thing, I’m saying our monkey brains don’t have room for her.
So, I think it’s important, in that small window of time she has, to remember her life was taken from her—she did not give her life, it was taken from her—because she was brave, and she stood up and fought for others to have the freedom she had, and she did not take for granted.
And it’s also important to remember why racism/homophobia/bigotry is wrong, not just to have a knee-jerk reaction.
Bigots want to have things, and they want other people to not have those things, not because of how hard they work, but because of what’s in their DNA. They want—and they want other people to not have—the freedom to benefit from the social, financial, and legal benefits of marriage; freedom to have sex for pleasure instead of becoming baby factories; the freedom to be touched, or not touched, by who they want to, without being shamed or harassed either way.
Fifty years before that, they wanted other people to not have the freedom to drink from a water fountain on a hot day, or use the bathroom like an adult, or for musicians to be able to stay at the same hotels they just played a concert at.
And fifty years before that, the same type of people wanted certain people to not have the ability to have autonomy over their own bodies to live and work where they want, and get to share in the wealth they created for others.
You know what else these bigots want? The ability to kill people who are not like them with impunity. So in that one respect, the bigots are losing. They aren’t losing 100% of the time, but they are being beaten back by brave men and women like Heather Heyer.