I have been operating on the basis that my thought processes would be obvious, but realise now that they might not be.
The death of Heather Heyer is not something which should have happened. She did not go to that protest expecting to die. Nobody did. People are used to protesting, used to scuffles, but not used to the risk of death. She almost certainly would have jumped out of the way, given the chance.
Her death is one which should be honoured, because she died standing against Nazis. It doesn’t mean that her death was glorious or necessary. It was a brutal murder by a terrorist.
I have tried (and clearly, at times, failed) to talk about her death with the respect she deserves, because while she should not have died yesterday, she did.
People are not used to the risk, but you have to get used to it. Nazis are empowered in a way they haven’t been in a few decades, and are marching openly and without fear of reprisal. They will not be beaten by nice words and some voting. Standing against Nazis is a risk to your safety, and sometimes to your life, and so the choice to risk that has to be a conscious one. You have to make your decisions about what you are willing to risk to stop the rise of fascism. You have plenty of historical examples to look to for answers to the question, ‘at what point should I stop hoping this goes away?’
In trying to make sure that her death is not the death knell for opposition to the Nazis, we (I) risk glorifying her murder. That’s not what this is about. It’s about ensuring that we undertake this opposition with clear heads and understanding the cost. I do not believe that, if I were to die at a protest, I would want my death to be used to suppress opposition. I would want it to be a rallying cry – do not make my sacrifice in vain. Do not allow them to use my death to scare you into submission. But I am not her, so I don’t know what she would have wanted.
I think that the best way to honour her life is to keep fighting them, taking the necessary steps to ensure your safety as far as possible, but understanding that the risks exist. Nazis do not get beaten without a cost. Organise. Work with established antifa organisations who have been doing this for a long time. Stay in groups. Keep your head about you. If you can’t march, as many of us can’t, provide support and shelter for antifa where you can. Don’t take unnecessary risks hoping to be a martyr for the cause. That doesn’t honour Heyer in any way.
I would like to think that her death will be the end of this, but I doubt it. I think there is worse to come. I think that we will all have to take some risks in the near future if we are to avoid allowing fascism to reign again.
Remember her name. Honour her life. But do it by living to fight the Nazis, not dying for it.