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Let me say up front I am not a Nazi, a white nationalist, or a sympathizer of them. I am also a military history buff who knows a lot about the Civil War and am firmly pro-union and very unsympathetic to the southern cause. I don’t buy a word of the lost cause or other mythologizing of the old south. So, anyone reading this can please not waste their time accusing me of being a white nationalist or confederate sympathizer. I am most certainly not.
Second, before we get onto the important work of using the events of yesterday to slander our political enemies, I think we might want to at least look at the facts as we know them. The facts are, as best I can tell, as follows. A white nationalist organization known as Unite the Right decided to have a national rally in Charlottesville, VA to protest the removal of the city’s Robert E. Lee statue.
After months of work and hype on social media, Unite the Right managed to get 200 marchers to show up in Charlottesville Friday. On Friday night they marched around with tiki torches and waved flags without incident. On Saturday a group of Antifa counter protesters showed up. The counter protesters proceeded to attack the Unite the Right Marchers and a riot broke out.
According the the Virginia ACLU, the Charlottesville police stood down and did nothing to control the situation. During this riot a supporter of the march, it is unclear if he is a member of any of the organizations there, slammed his car into a crowd of counter protesters killing one person and injuring 19 others. It is unclear if the driver had planned to do this to any counter protesters before the march or if he just took the riot as an excuse to do it.
Those are the facts as we know them currently. What they mean can be debated. Any debate about this subject should be based upon facts, not assumptions or hasty generalizations. What can we reasonably conclude from the known facts? Three things I think.
First, the white nationalist movement is still the same small, insignificant movement it always has been. Despite months of hype and work, the Unite the Right rally drew 200 people. The white nationalist KKK movement has been able to draw a couple hundred people at a national rally for my entire lifetime. So let’s stop with the nonsense about this being some significant rally or that the white nationalists are any more popular or emboldened today than they ever have been. They are not. It’s the same small group of morons that have always been there. The proof of that is in the numbers. If there had been 10,000 people at that rally, I might reconsider that. But there wasn’t.
Second, what played out yesterday in Charlottesville is just a repeat of what happened in Berkeley, Middleburg, NYU, and other places over the last year and a half. Some group Antifa finds objectionable has a speech or a rally. Then Antifa shows up and starts assaulting people and the police stand down, let them do it, and let the riot happen. That is exactly what happened yesterday. It should surprise no one that one of these riots has now resulted in someone’s death. The fact that the death was the result of the actions of the enemies of Antifa rather than Antifa itself, changes nothing. This was going to happen eventually.
Third, this is exactly what Antifa wanted. Their plan is always to attack their enemies hoping they fight back and then get blamed for the resulting violence. And time and again the police let them do it. Every time some self-righteous writer like David French gets up and talks about this being the result of the “alt right,” whatever that is, they are doing nothing but emboldening Antifa and encouraging this to happen more in the future.
You want this stuff to stop, and you should, don’t waste your time virtue signaling about the dreaded Virginia Nazis. They are an insignificant group that are defended by no one and whose only use seems to be to allow Democrats and writers like David French to slander their political opponents. Prosecuting and condemning the person who did this is an essential start. But you can’t undo the harm he did and you can’t deter or prevent the actions of truly violent people.
What can be done is to hold local police accountable for doing their jobs and preventing situations like the one in Charlottesville from happening in the first place. As the President said, the solution to this is for police to restore law and order. There are no other answers or deeper lessons here. It is just that simple.