CNN: 'Ordinary People' Are 'White Supremacists by Default'

On Thursday, CNN's John Blake published a story blaming "ordinary people" for making Charlottesville possible, and quoting a history professor who called such people "white supremacists by default."

"We are a country with a few million passionate white supremacists — and tens of millions of white supremacists by default," Mark Naison, a political activist and history professor at Fordham University in New York City, told CNN. "You have to have millions of people who are willing to be bystanders, who push aside evidence of racism, Islamophobia, or sexism. You can't have one without the other."

Blake, the CNN reporter, paraphrased activists like Naison saying "the tragedy that took place in Charlottesville this month could not have occurred without the tacit acceptance of millions of ordinary, law-abiding Americans who helped create such a radically explosive climate."

He argued that "it's the ordinary people — the voters who elected a reality TV star with a record of making racially insensitive comments, the people who move out of the neighborhood when people of color move in, the family members who ignore a relative's anti-Semitism — who give these type of men room to operate, they say."

Throughout the article, Blake remained careful to acknowledge that these were the words of activists like Naison, rather than himself.

But at the end, he slipped up. "If you want to know why those white racists now feel so emboldened, it may help to look at all the ordinary people around you, your neighbors, your family members, your leaders. But first, start by looking at yourself."

Blake listed four different types of "ordinary people" who abet white supremacy by their actions. First, he mentioned the "low-down segregationists," white people who left the inner cities as black people moved in. Second, he pointed to those who say "yes, but," criticizing anyone who pointed to violence on "both sides" of Charlottesville.