Charlottesville: Chaos Worship and Crossing the Free Speech Line

As events unfolded in Charlottesville this weekend (and I was blissfully preoccupied with non-political things), I’d catch snippets of what was going on via Twitter and kept saying to myself, “These idiots. Cooler heads will prevail.”

And then two police officers died and a young woman was run down and killed by a degenerate domestic terrorist that thinks his idiocy is the pinnacle of human evolution, apparently. And, with Twitter as my guide, I realized that even cooler heads were engaging in a bit of chaos worship; spinning it up, keeping it going. Not unusual for the mob. There have been whole studies on the mob (or herd) mentality and how it operates with a hive mind and engulfs those who would otherwise never be inclined toward violence.

Enter the ever predictable Markos Moulitsas, founder of the uber progressive Daily Kos website, with his own hot, hot take on how everyone on the right is now a failure of humanity.

Odd statement coming from a man who, as I was reminded by colleagues this morning at RedState, coined the term “American Taliban” when referring to evangelical Christians he believes guilty of crimes similar to those of Islamic fascists. And who said of the Blackwater contractors mutilated in Fallujah in 2004:

“Let the people see what war is like. This isn’t an Xbox game. There are real repercussions to Bush’s folly. That said, I feel nothing over the death of merceneries [sic]. They aren’t in Iraq because of orders, or because they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them.”

I’m assuming, by this logic, Kos believes everyone on the left is potentially guilty of murderous rage like the loser who shot Rep. Steve Scalise on a baseball field a few months ago.

As Resurgent writer Jesse Kelly noted on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/JesseKellyDC/status/897101912650256387

And he has a point. I personally tried to have a conversation about the call to remove all Confederate statues (not something I support) and came one comment away from being called a racist and a Nazi by another conservative.

I backed away, closed my computer and went for a walk.

Because the truth is, these ridiculous lovers of chaos are actually pretty fringe. They are not representative of the country at large or even large swaths of the country. They are pitiful, small-minded, but vocal extremists that love the protest game.

And then someone dies. And it’s not a game anymore.

But a piece from Jeff Deist, President of The Mises Institute, gave me a little hope (and, to be sure, the libertarians took a hit this weekend, too. No one is safe in the midst of chaos worship.):

What we saw this weekend was a demonstration of the horseshoe effect, where both groups begin to sound and act like the other– both illiberal, both demanding omnipotent state solutions to problems mostly created by government in the first place.

To be sure, Antifa and the alt-right represent only a tiny fraction of the population and have little economic, social, or political power. But they serve as perfect fodder for a media narrative that benefits from a sky-is-falling narrative to ratchet up viewership. The narrative is fed by our vanity and desire to imagine easy solutions to complex problems (e.g. more “education,” hate speech laws, welfarism, etc.) And we play along, assuming the worst of others and issuing smug affirmations of our own superiority on Facebook and Twitter…

…People of goodwill don’t impose themselves on others politically any more than they do militarily.

Now that things have quieted down a bit, I’m hoping those cooler heads can pop their windows open again, test the air outside and not add any more fuel to the fires burning at other “organic” protests springing up around the country.

And that Sen. Ted Cruz makes good on his promise to investigate the groups that brought chaos to Charlottesville. Free speech and assembly is a guaranteed right. Until someone dies. That line was crossed in Virginia.