White Jacobins Riot over Race

By: Bill Whaley
6 September, 2020

Carson Valley (Minden and Gardnerville), Nevada


As a black sheep Taoseno, I am compelled to share the following story from my home town, Gardnerville, Nevada, located in Carson Valley, northern Nevada. The valley was named for Taoseno Kit Carson.

In Carson Valley the Sierra Nevada mountains tower over the verdant valley floor, mostly white-faced Hereford Cattle and Horses grazing adjacent to the West and East Forks of the Carson River. The artesian wells flourish, and each evening at six p.m. the six-o’clock dinner whistle blows.

This whistle doubles during emergencies as a wake-up call for the volunteer fire department. But the signal was set up originally in the late forties or early fifties to send the local Washo Indians, vamoose out of town. When I was a kid, the Indians were only allowed to drink in bars owned by the Chinese or the hospitable Basco.

I worked with Washos on my stepfather’s ranch, learned about Indian humor, and played sports and went to class with my Native American classmates, much like some of my friends in Taos who maintained good relations with Taos Pueblo residents. Though there is a deep-seated vein of “red-neckism” among the white people, I don’t ever remember seeing a “black” person in Carson Valley, other than the occasional athlete on a visiting team.

Recently, a local librarian put the following innocuous statement on the agenda, per the American Library Association, for the consideration of the library board: “We support #Black Lives Matter. We resolutely assert and believe that all forms of racism, hatred, inequality, and injustice don’t belong in our society,” Apparently the “support your local sheriff” crew took offense and told the library not to bother calling “911” if they had an overdue-book fine to collect.

The Sheriff’s remarks hit the “viral button” and sure enough, a few BLM protesters, mild looking teenagers and a few white supporters, showed up one Saturday in August. According to the reporter, she had a tough time finding the 25 to 50 demonstrators, as 500 to 1000 white demonstrators rioted, dressed in fatigues, carrying long guns, spitting, screaming profanities, driving into the marchers, and throwing down, physically, on the kids until other similarly dressed counter-demonstrators objected and/or pulled away the assailants.

I looked at a hundred or so photographs and read letters wherein residents expressed their objections in terms Putin Propaganda talking points, garnered from social media, republicans, and Triumpians. Some letter writers (ersatz classmates and friends?), advocated investigating and defunding the library, a library, founded by my own mother and her band of literary stalwarts in 1967. Her portrait hangs in a prominent place and she was awarded Douglas County Library Card no. 1.

Though the community’s temper has been somewhat mollified by “newcomers” with more liberal views, according to the newspapers, for the life of me I cannot understand the vitriol aimed by former classmates at the demonstrators. Some historically claim some affiliation with the Christian Church. (“Do unto others…”)

BTW: See John Dean’s new book: “Authoritarian Nightmare.” He and his research quantify and qualify the claims about Trump’s supporters. Peter Wehner, a Contributing writer at The Atlantic, summarizes the journey to Trumpian tribalism, a syndrome that favors fascism over democracy in a current editorial:

“This phenomenon has no shortage of explanations, but perhaps the most convincing is the terror the president’s backers feel. Time and again, I’ve had conversations with Trump supporters who believe the president is all that stands between them and cultural revolution. Trump and his advisers know it, which is why the through line of the RNC was portraying Joe Biden as a Jacobin.”

(Jacobin originally refers to purists in the French Revolution, who turned on each other vis-à-vis the guillotine but today characterizes extremists on the left or the right. Biden epitomizes the “middle-of-the-road politicians while Trump sides with Jefferson Davis.)

According to the Bad Gringo, “Among his homies in the Carson Valley (Gardnerville), called Slow Death by his son, he felt like Joe Btfsplk: while Lil Abner made love to Daisy, he wandered round under a black cloud. But like Brer Rabbit, the Gringo thrived in the Briar Patch. Everything is upside down in Taos and he could see to breathe between the brambles.” (From a work in progress.)

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