As we are all now aware, one person is dead and several injured in Charlottesville, Virginia after someone rammed a car into a crowd of anti-protesters. This is clearly an act of domestic terrorism. If we are to rightfully call out a Muslim ramming a vehicle through a crowd of people as Islamic terrorism, this act was an act of white nationalist terrorism. The perpetrator deserves the full penalty of the law.
Lost in the maelstrom are two things that this writer believes needs mentioning. The first is the role of and actions by the police, or more appropriately, their inaction. Having watched some of the coverage and the occasional skirmishes between opposing groups, it looked obvious that the police- who had a large presence- were told to do nothing. Some of the commentators noted that unlike other protests, there were no barriers between opposing groups. Occasionally, one could see a water bottle fly through the air, or people with sticks and bats swinging at one another. Yet there were no police there to break up the situation. Each side was left to rescue and fight for their own.
Only after the Governor declared a state of emergency and called off the rally in the park did the police move into action. Even then, it was to get protesters out of the park, which they did rather peacefully. I question whether the Governor allowed violence to occur in order to invoke his power to declare a state of emergency.
We have witnessed this scene all to often recently where law enforcement stand down in the face of escalating violence around protests. We have seen it in New Orleans, in Berkeley, in Portland, Oregon and elsewhere. When people are showing up at a protest or rally with baseball bats, sticks or wearing black bandanas and hoodies to disguise themselves, there is obviously an increased risk of violent confrontation.
When the protest in the park was cancelled and the white nationalists dispersed, two news outlets- Fox and CNN- were following a group walking down a street being followed by stick and club-waving counter protesters. They were leaving town yet these counter-protesters instigated violence by grabbing a Confederate flag out of someone’s hands leading to a melee in a parking garage. Again, it was the cooler heads on both sides- NOT law enforcement- that broke that up.
So it was inevitable that a group that came together to profess a philosophy of hatred and bigotry would come prepared to defend themselves. It does not excuse their behavior or their actions, but it does explain the helmets, shields, body armor and weapons. They came expecting violence and no protection from law enforcement given events elsewhere. They came expecting a street brawl, not to become martyrs.
The second thought that comes to mind is the media coverage of the event. There was violence being perpetrated by both sides. Yet, the media kept calling out the white nationalists. One commentator correctly noted that it takes two sides to create a “battle.” And it was interesting to note that in the lead up to the noon hour, coverage kept breaking away from Charlottesville because- well, there just was not any excitement…no violence to see.
Of course, MSNBC had the usual suspects available to further the line that these white nationalists have become more bold ever since Donald Trump became President. The media perpetuated the line that these were the true representatives of Trump’s base and while they most likely supported and voted for Trump, this far fringe of the Right is being portrayed as THE Right in America. And Trump’s dangerous dance with these people during the campaign did not nothing to alleviate one’s fears.
In a feeble attempt to re-enact a Nazi rally in Nuremburg complete with Tiki torches and Nazi salutes, some 100-200 people are portrayed as the face of right-of-center people. For conservatives, that is why it is imperative that we denounce and relegate these people to the dustbin much like William F. Buckley did to fringe groups years ago.
Conservative principles seek to uplift all people, not to make America a bastion of white nationalism. What started as a somewhat noble gesture- protesting removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from a park- turned into something grotesquely worse.
Since Trump’s election, we have seen and heard of nothing but positive coverage of protests against his Presidency starting the day after his Inauguration. We have witnessed celebrities proclaim their “nasty womanness,” and seen them holding the decapitated head of the President. Other than coverage on the Right, this is accepted as the norm now in Trump’s America.
Conversely, we have witnessed violent confrontations in disparate cities against those who hold opposing views from the mainstream Left. By protecting or protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, no one is calling for the resurrection of the Confederacy other than some lunatics on the fringe who have more in common with the Leftist antifa forces than they do with true conservatism.
What happened in Charlottesville, Virginia- a beautiful town I recently visited- was a disgusting display of the worst of emotions and beliefs on both sides. The actions of one lunatic terrorist will come to define Saturday August 12th, 2017 in the minds of many. Unfortunately, the lack of law enforcement doing their job and the media looking for violence will be overlooked.