- Is there a clear, complete, objective account of what happened in Charlottesville? I can’t find one. I have read about “clashes” between protesters and “counter-protesters,” who we are told outnumbered the white nationalist group protesting the removal of General Lee’s statue by about 2-1. What does that mean? Was the white nationalist rally peaceful, regardless of the racist slogans they were hurling? Were the counter-protesters just shouting back, or more physical? I see references to the “fray.” What fray? The key word seems to be that the white nationalists “sparked’ violence by marching. Do we now say that the civil rights marchers in Selma sparked the violence, and not the counter-protest racists. or is the theory that which ever group has the less popular position “sparks” the violence?
My suspicions are that the vagueness of the news media reports is a deliberate effort by the news media to avoid assigning any responsibility to Antifa thugs for the escalation into violence.
- Obviously the automobile driven into the anti-white nationalist, counter protest crowd was a criminal act. Since this was done by the racists, it became the focus of all news reports, as if this was the only violence.
Was it? Somehow I doubt that.
- Again, a counter-protest group “incites violence” as much as a protest group. The reaction from the news media and the political pundits appears to ignore the basic fact that Americans have the right to demonstrate and express their support for repugnant ideas as well as ideas most of us approve of. This was settled (I thought) with National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie, 432 U.S. 43 (1977).
- President Trump’s statement regarding the riot was this:
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time…We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!”
The immediate reaction by the newsmedia was that the statement asserted a false equivalency. CNN’s Chris Cillizza wrote,
“Both sides don’t scream racist and anti-Semitic things at people with whom they disagree. They don’t base a belief system on the superiority of one race over others. They don’t get into fistfights with people who don’t see things their way. They don’t create chaos and leave a trail of injured behind them. Arguing that “both sides do it” deeply misunderstands the hate and intolerance at the core of this “Unite the Right” rally. These people are bigots. They are hate-filled. This is not just a protest where things, unfortunately, got violent. Violence sits at the heart of their warped belief system.”
Both sides do “do it,” however, and when “it” is violence and refusal to allow a group with opposing views make their statements, there is no high ground. The starting point from the left is “the white nationalists are wrong, so they don’t deserve the same rights we do.” Yes, they do, and among those rights is the opportunity to protest whatever they choose without being attacked. “These people are bigots.” So what? They have the right to express their views. “They are hate-filled.” And the counter-protesters were not “hate-filled”? Or was the President supposed to distinguish that as good hate?
- David Gergen on CNN was even worse. “[The President] made it very, very clear by equating the violence on both sides as being sort of equivalent to each other…,” Gergen said. “He’s made it very clear he’s going to defend to the extent that he feels he can- people who are radical extremists and I think that’s a terrible mistake on his part.”
Note what these words mean. Gergen says that the President should make it “clear” that violence against white nationalists is better violence than when white nationalists strike out at those trying to disrupt their protest. The duty of the President is to protect the Constitution, and the Constitution says that even radical extremists have civil rights. It also says the government shouldn’t restrict those rights, and the Supreme Court says this means the government shouldn’t officially chill one group of citizens’ freedom of protest and expression.
Does that mean a President shouldn’t say it’s all right for one group to express hate and use violence because the United States of America approves of its position, while a group with less favored views will be held to a different standard? Yes, it does. But this is exactly what President Trump is being criticized for not saying, by Gergen, Cillizza and others.
- Gergen’s interviewer, Ana Cabrera, began by describing the white nationalists as a hate group that “incites violence.” False. As a matter of law, a group does not incite violence by stating an unpopular position that makes others want to attack it.
This is the First Amendment cancelling trick used to censor conservative speakers on campuses: “You can’t speak because your awful ideas will make people hurt you.”
- Over on Fox News, former governor and Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was right for a change, saying about Trump’s remarks,
“And so what is he supposed to say? Is he supposed to do what Barack Obama used to do and jump to conclusions and make a decision like he did in Ferguson, Missouri, which turned out to be totally untrue? The President has to be careful in taking steps. I thought what he condemned was what we all could immediately condemn and that was the violence, the car some coward in a car drove into innocent people to try and kill them. And he condemned that! What else is he supposed to do at that point?”
Huckabee is correct that Obama habitually jumped into local law enforcement matters and started declaring heroes and villains before the evidence was in. This is not the President’s role, and is in fact an abuse of power and position.
- In contrast to the President’s correct restraint, we have Virginia’s governor Terry McAuliffe, who used the power and influence of his office to declare that people holding views he does not approve of are not welcome in the Old Dominion. In the midst of some patriotic grandstanding, he said…
“You are not wanted in this great commonwealth. Shame on you….There is no place for you here. There is no place for you in America.”
This is leftist fascism, by definition. Who is Terry McAuliffe, or Virginia, or anyone, to say who can or should have a “place” in the United States of America? How is this statement applied to white nationalists any different legally or ethically from applying it to Muslims, or lesbians, or abortion advocates, or Catholics, Jews or libertarians?
It isn’t. The entire point of the Bill of Rights is that the government does not get to tell us what to thing, what we can chant, what we can protest, and where we can live.
McAuliffe just proved Trump’s point.