1. Just a side note before the serious stuff: WordPress spell-check thinks “Charlottesville” is misspelled. It says the correct spelling is “Chancellorsville.”
And you wonder why I have so many typos…
2. Either one believes in, supports and will fight for freedom of speech, expression and assembly, or one does not. Those who do not also do not genuinely believe in democracy, the Constitution, civil rights or the core principles of the United States of America. This group, which has been slowly—not so slowly, really—taking over the progressive movement and the Democratic Party, and with them that party’s institutional allies, the U.S. education system and journalism, is far, far more dangerous than the alt-right, racist fools who tried to exercise their own rights over the weekend.
At the center of the implicit rejection of the freedom to say, express, demonstrate for and hold whatever wise, creative, idiotic or hateful opinions and ideas a U.S. citizen chooses were the despicable and anti-American comments of Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, ( WordPress thinks I should spell his name “Cauliflower”) who told a group of U.S. citizens that they were not welcome in his state, and that there was no place for them in the United States of America—you know, like the German Nazis told the Jews. Pathetically and dispiritingly, knee-jerk defenders of McAuliffe have spun this as mere “opprobrium,” a deflection that we technically refer to as “baloney.” When the leader of a government points to any group and says, “Get out!” based solely on what the group says and believes, that’s totalitarian oppression. It also paints a bullseye on the backs of every member of that group.
3. In a New York Times profile today of Heather Heyer, who was killed by a car driven into the counter-protesters by James Fields, Jr. (and yes, though President Obama would not have hesitated to condemn Fields as a murderer, thus short-circuiting his rights to a fair trial, President Trump is a hundred percent correct not to characterize or refer to that incident at all, unlike, for example Ted Cruz. I wouldn’t bet that he has not done so out of a recognition of why he shouldn’t comment, but it’s still the correct conduct.), she is called a woman who “stood up against discrimination.” The demonstrators she was arm in arm with, however, were not protesting discrimination; they were protesting free speech by those who advocate discrimination. The counter-protesters’ explicit objective was to interfere with speech they did not agree with, and, in fact, like the Governor, did not want to allow in their community.
This was wrong.
4. From the beginning, the objective of the supposedly liberal town of Charlottesville was to impede free speech. Muckraking journalist Glenn Greenwald, hardly a defender of the alt-right, wrote,
Last week, the ACLU sparked controversy when it announced that it was defending the free speech rights of alt-right activist Milo Yiannopoulos after the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority refused to allow ads for his book to be displayed on public transit. Lost in the debate was that other groups the ACLU was defending along with Yiannopoulos were also censored under the same rule: Carafem, which helps women access birth control and medication abortion; the animal rights group PETA; and the ACLU itself.
For representing Yiannopoulos, the civil liberties group was widely accused of defending and enabling fascism. But the ACLU wasn’t “defending Yiannopoulos” as much as it was opposing a rule that allows state censorship of any controversial political messages the state wishes to suppress: a rule that is often applied to groups which are supported by many who attacked the ACLU here.
The same formula was applied yesterday when people learned that the ACLU of Virginia had represented the white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville after city officials tried to ban the group from gathering in Emancipation Park where a statue of Robert E. Lee was to be removed (city officials tried to move the march to an isolated location one mile away). One board member of the ACLU of Virginia, Waldo Jaquith, waited until the violence erupted to announce on Twitter that he was resigning in protest of the ACLU’s representation of the protesters – as though he was unaware when he joined the Board that the ACLU has been representing the free speech rights of neo-Nazis and other white supremacist groups (along with Communists, Muslims, war protesters and the full spectrum of marginalized minorities and leftists) for many decades.
Many attacked the ACLU’s decision to represent Yiannopoulos and these Charlottesville protests as though they were allies of the marchers, while others literally accused them of enabling fascism or even blamed them for the violence…
The flaws and dangers in this anti-free-speech mindset are manifest, but nonetheless always worth highlighting, especially when horrific violence causes people to want to abridge civil liberties in the name of stopping it. In sum, purporting to oppose fascism by allowing the state to ban views it opposes is like purporting to oppose human rights abuses by mandating the torture of all prisoners….
5. There was an obvious, risk-free method to guarantee that there would be no violence as a result of the white nationalist marchers: leave them alone. Let them have their demonstration, and hold a counter-demonstration repudiating them later, after they crawled back under the rock from which they came. This is another reason why the criticism of President Trump for not calling out one “side’s” violence only is a typical, anti-Trump, double-standard gotcha. There is every reason to believe that the counter-demonstrators wanted violence, so their allies could say that the white nationalists “incited the violence,” which is what many news media sources have reported. It is not false equivalence to say both “sides” were responsible for violence. The President would have been justified, in fact—but not prudent or smart—had he said that the violence was a direct result of an alt-left groups deliberately seeking a confrontation.
7. This is supposedly rebutted by the fact that, as Buzzfeed put it,
“The right-wingers were more prepared for violence. Most white supremacist and Nazi groups arrived armed like a paramilitary force — carrying shields, protective gear, rods, and yes, lots of guns, utilizing Virginia’s loose firearm laws.”
As would I be prepared, in their position. We all saw how the hooded alt-left thugs have behaved in the recent past, like during the Trump Inauguration. It is one of the more unethical and Bizzaro World tropes of progressivism that being armed for self-defense is itself intrinsically violent, hence the Left’s hostility to the Second Amendment and the military. The racists knew that the Left would arrive to try to intimidate it into abandoning its protest. The racists were correct. Being armed is legal in Virginia, and, as events showed, it was also prudent. They cannot be justifiably vilified for exercising their rights. More from Buzzfeed…
“They used militarized defensive maneuvers, shouting commands at one another to “move forward” or “retreat,” and would form a line of shields or a phalanx …to gain ground or shepherd someone through projectiles.”
They had a right to make their statement, supported by a legally obtained permit, and to demonstrate without having to “shepherd someone through projectiles.” The counter-demonstrators, in contrast, had no legal, ethical or constitutional right to throw projectiles, which, we are told, included containers of urine.
6. Meanwhile, we now know that the Charlottesville police deliberately “stood down,” like the Berkeley police when antifa thugs were running amuck there, like the Baltimore police when black rioters were burning down their own neighborhood in response to media-fed rumors about the death of Freddie Gray. Pro Publica, while predictably blaming the violence on the white nationalists, even wrote,
“Several times, a group of assault-rifle-toting militia members from New York State, wearing body armor and desert camo, played a more active role in breaking up fights.”
Officials in Charlottesville had publicly promised to maintain control of the “Unite the Right” rally, which meant keeping the protesters out of harm’s way. Instead, they allowed the counter-demonstrators to confront them, with completely predictable results. Once the violence reached a sufficient level, authorities shut down the rally and the related demonstrations. The local ACLU has stated that that it believes this was the plan all along. I agree.
7. Writes Glenn Reynolds, “[The Justice Department] needs to look at who ordered the police to stand down in the face of mob violence, and why. A decision to allow citizens to be assaulted in the exercise of their constitutional rights is a federal felony.”
What is Governor McAuliffe’s answer to the critics?
“You can’t stop some crazy guy who came here from Ohio and used his car as a weapon. He is a terrorist.”
That doesn’t explain doing nothing about the fighting and brawling… And if the police had managed the crowds, perhaps the car incident would not have been triggered.
…I’ve seen how the police have managed crowds here in Madison, Wisconsin — huge rallies with opposing sides. I’d like to know how the police in Virginia could be so impotent. Are they so afraid of being accused of doing something wrong that they protect themselves by doing nothing?
Asked about the brawling and why police did not do more to control it, Brian Moran, Virginia’s secretary of public safety, said in an interview on Sunday that “it was a volatile situation and it’s unfortunate people resorted to violence.’’ But, he said, “From our plan, to ensure the safety of our citizens and property, it went extremely well.’’
Governor McAuliffe also defended the police response, saying, “It’s easy to criticize, but I can tell you this, 80 percent of the people here had semiautomatic weapons. You saw the militia walking down the street, you would have thought they were an army,” he added. “I was just talking to the State Police upstairs; they had better equipment than our State Police had,” he said, referring to the militia members. “And yet not a shot was fired, zero property damage.”
Pathetic. The police were afraid of the guns? But no shots were fired, even in response to punching and brawling. That makes it sound as though those people with guns were quite restrained, and yet they terrified the police.
8. The counter-demonstrators, McAuliffe, and the anti-free speech protesters lucked out in a way-–moral luck, that is. The level of hate on both sides was high enough that an antifa nut might have driven a car into the white nationalists.
Then could the President have condemned the hate and violence on “both sides”?