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What Can Be Said About the Events in Charlottesville
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.Published in General
One thousand times Amen.
Government is failing in its fundamental duty (securing our God given rights and maintaining public order). More action protecting peaceful speech and less fruitless denunciations please.
YES. Defend free speech and punish lawbreaking. (And physical intimidation is against the law, I think.)
Why do the “authorities” not understand this? Or (Paranoid Thought Alert), maybe they do–following your thesis that news video and not civil order is the goal.
I agree. As I waded through the various news articles, the central fact emerged that one group, with abhorrent views, had received a permit to hold its protest. Despite their repellant views, this group was exercising First Amendment rights, and assembling to express its objections to government action (protesting the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue from Lee Park).
In the tiny cracks of the articles were a few tidbits that led me to discover that local officials had been trying to quash this demonstration but that the night before a federal judge had upheld the rights of the protestors to hold their rally.
Meanwhile, when the usual leftist mob showed up (with no permit to hold a rally or anything else), they found temporary fences and police on hand to keep separate the two groups. If these barriers had been reinforced and police lines held, that should have made possible the preservation of civil peace while the two groups exercised their rights to protest and yell insults at each other.
But no. The local government officials who’d been rebuffed by the federal judge decided, when the fences started to fall under the pressure of the two crowds, to withdraw the police and let the two groups whale on each other. This was a riot that did not have to happen.
Disgraceful. But of course with the odious Gov. Terry McAuliffe in the mix I am not surprised.
Very well said. This reflects my understanding as well.
I want to shine the spotlight (rather than infer) that the local government is to blame, not the police. In fact, who ever is in charge of that local government needs to actually plan for these types of behavior. If the antifa was there to answer the other group, should they have had a permit? How many of these people came from out of state? As I said on other posts, people who incite or use violence need to be jailed for maximum sentences, and we need to empower our police to do their jobs.
You are in a no win situation as a police officer. You didn’t do enough becomes your fault. You did too much becomes police brutality. When two groups of morons come together anything can happen, and then those that came to protest with no intent to commit violence get caught in the middle.
I’ll be brutally honest here. I was very fortunate that there were no cell phones, or You Tube when I was police officer. I’ve been involved in breaking up bar fights, to one demonstration that turned pretty ugly. I swung my baton as if I was trying to hit a 400 foot home run. If the first strike didn’t stop someone who was being stupid then I kept hitting them until they were no longer capable of being stupid.
If you decide to go to some protest and you see people with bandanas, gas masks, and wearing helmets you might want to leave. Depending upon the goodwill of hundreds of strangers to behave themselves regardless of the cause is moronic, how’s that for brutal honesty. You cannot change someone’s mind or their behavior in a mob situation. Depending upon the mayor, or the governor, none of whom have any police experience, to maintain order is wishful thinking.
In a perfect world everyone would exchange there views in a respectful manner and go have a microbrew together. When two hate groups get together they have a microbrew together by throwing full bottles at each other, and throwing them at the police as well.
Not to me – it’s their job. Executing that duty involves hiring police and then not handcuffuing police from exercising due authority. As I understand it, only one of those protests had a permit. As I understand it, only one of those protests has recent reputation for crossing into violence and riot. I don’t expect miracles, but I do expect the due authorities to maintain and restore order. What good are they otherwise?
It got out of hand on Friday night, Saturday was when it all went to hell. That should have told the mayor that he needed to man-up and cancel the permits for Saturday. Neither of these groups, most of whom were not residents of Charlottesville had any reason to behave themselves and indicated that by their behavior on Friday night. Personally my feeling is the minute the fights started is when you start tossing the rubber bullet grenades, flash bangs, and the tear gas, and not just in the park. They should have been deployed in any area necessary.
I have a feeling that the State of Virginia does not have a lot of experience in crowd control, it isn’t Baltimore after all.
By the way the group that had the permit, showed up at the wrong park on Saturday. That tells me the organizers weren’t very organized. That also tells me that whoever was in charge for the police could have shut the whole thing down because they didn’t have the permit they needed, a technicality to be sure, but if you aren’t smart enough to read a map that’s your problem.
@johnkluge…the best summary of events in Charlottesville that I have seen anywhere to this point. The more I read, the more I believe the local police allowed this to happen.
These are a sampling of videos at the scene. Even people like Scott Johnson from Powerlineblog are blaming this horrific event on the “alt right”. I have no love for haters, but this small group of people had a court ordered permit to march. The BLM and Antifa groups did not. Also, the knee jerkers who say President Trump should have more forcefully condemned the only group with legal status at the scene are, in many cases, the same ones who criticized Obama for jumping to conclusions in Cambridge, Ferguson, and Trayvon Martin. Of course, the left will blame Trump for anything, including the sun rising in the morning. Bottom line is, we don’t have enough information to know the truth yet.
Anything I have missed?
The only death was caused by a white supremacist.
What’s so hard about condemning the klan by name, and then also condemning the violence that was initiated by the counter-protesters and culminated in the car attack?
It would be very easy to do this. And it could be done in a way that doesn’t let the lefties off the hook. The fact that Trump can’t or won’t do it is disheartening. Does he not know how to communicate effectively?
What’s so hard about condemning BLM & the Antifa by name, and then also condemning the violence that was engaged in by the original marchers and culminated in the car attack?
Sounds a lot different from your formulation, doesn’t it? It makes just as much sense, but it is obviously picking sides.
Maybe just condemning all the extremists and the violence that followed is appropriate.
They are all disgusting.
Isn’t it true that the police did, wisely, put an end to the rally. I’m under the impression that the people this wack job mowed down and injured, and the woman he killed, were a crowd of people who had left the police-ended rally?
Excellent post, John Kluge. And I had no idea, until I read it that Unite the Right amounted to 200 people. Without being aware of it, I was picturing at least a thousand.
As one who spent much of his life in a discipline which depended upon the marshaling of facts and evidence and applying the appropriate law to that set of facts, and as one who still believes in that more and more antiquated adherence to the governing role of basing decisions only on facts, I trust I will be forgiven for pointing out a few facts which were either omitted from this post or were apparently based on a depth of knowledge of the facts I have not been able to master. For example, this post assumes the only “counter-protester” group is the truly criminally violent Antifa gang of hoodlums, but it is my understanding, based on a video I have just seen from a reporter on the scene, that the equally criminal gang known as Black Lives Matter played a large part in the rioting against the Unite The Right group. Speaking of that much-maligned group, and without in any way whatsoever supporting any group which has or displays Nazi thinking or tendencies (another “fact” which I do not know to be a fact, and, therefore, will not so characterize them as such) I must point out that this is the one group which went through the proper hoops and jumps to get all the proper permissions from the civil authorities in the city and whose right to march and peaceably assemble, which they were apparently doing until the probably –stated as an opinion, not as a fact, I hasten to note– Soros-funded street thugs showed up, was approved by a ruling of a Federal District Judge there. Another “fact” stated was that the driver of the car which “slammed … into a crowd of counter protesters” was a supporter of the march. I do not know that to be a fact, although with the enormous welter of reports coming out of that horrible event, I may well have missed it. It is also said that “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.” While I agree with this statement, and would further note that so much about this story is, to put it mildly, “unclear”, I would also note there are also stories to the effect that he panicked because the street thugs of Antifa and BLM were attacking his car and trying to turn it over. It is also stated that the “fact that the death was the result of the actions of the enemies of Antifa rather than Antifa itself, changes nothing.” I do not know of any support for a statement that this very tragic death “was the result of the enemies of Antifa”, or BLM, for that matter, but would welcome being informed if there is an actual factual basis for that statement of “fact”. The “alt-right” “morons” are the ones who obeyed all legal formalities. One clear fact.
It is important that true conservatives name the names of the “usual suspects” who, like penitents or hustlers, today genuflect at the left-wing gospel narrative of “hordes” of neo-nazis vs amorphous “counter-protestors.”
Two hundred people in a legal demonstration. 200! But as Prager often says, in America it’s always “Danger on the Right!” And so our happy-to-please-the-ruling-elite leaders bow to the left, flex their knees and ask, “How high?” Then they wrap themselves in their universal principles and jump.
Why do these failures and haters think that we’re going to ignore their obvious bad faith and take advice from them now? Didn’t 2016 teach them anything?
They’re all Jeb Bush and Rick Wilson to me.
An ideology based on elevating ones group esteem based on a belief in the supremacy of ones race has no place in legitimate society. I understand the impulse to jump on the victim class bandwagon, but White Christian males as an aggrieved group is nonsense. The Nazi regime earned extermination and not to be idolized as a template for social change. If you find yourself dabbling in white supremacy and/or Nazism, either seek professional psychiatric help or affix divers weights to you’d belt and go jump in a lake.
How hard is this?
It’s not hard. Who here is defending it? The president surely didn’t.
Just curious: When I referred to them as “marginal misfits,” “extremists,” and “disgusting,” did you take those as terms of approbation? Really? Exactly who here do you think is defending Nazis? Accurate quotes would be appreciated. Inquiring minds want to know.
By the way, got other straw men you want to knock down?
Your advice is hard because it’s rather contradictory. Do you want to help these dabblers that you describe or kill them. It’s not clear from your confusing comment.
Concerning the first part of your statement, What do you think about a political program based on affection and fellow-feeling for those with which you share a lot in common, and a preference for their – and your own – present and future success? Does that have a place in legitimate society? Not supremacy – just normal, rational preference for the group one identifies with, the kind of in-group preference that many – if not all! – other groups have exhibited in every multicultural society that has ever existed anywhere in the world.
You don’t begrudge white Christians that now, do you?
Really, if you don’t favor ethnic and religious preferences and the political divisiveness that can often come in their wake, you should be fighting multiculturalism and affirmative action, instead of worrying about The Great Nazi Threat in the US.
John Kluge writes darned good expository pose. The power-to-weight ratio here? Perfect.
Since it is all so benign, I perhaps should reconsider.
best thing I’ve read about this event so far.
I’d like to see it get promoted past Ricochet…
It’s interesting that the MSM never challenged Obama for his repeated appearances on Al Sharpton’s radio program. Sharpton’s race baiting helped lead to the death of a man in the Crown Heights riots.
All very reasonably argued, but this clip made it into the evening news in Australia (and goodness knows where else):
Wrt controlling the news cycle, maybe this should factor in?
I don’t have a TV, so I don’t know what is going on, even if I did wish to trust the most media reports.
I do remember when I was scanning the election results a few months ago that Charlottesville voted for Hillary Clinton 79.7%, compared to 13.2% for Trump. That’s a higher percentage than places like Boston, Brooklyn, and Queens, a percentage higher than just about anyway except the District of Columbia, Manhattan, the Bronx, San Francisco, Baltimore, Petersburg, VA; Clayton County, GA; Orleans Parrish, LA; Jefferson County, MS; Macon County, AL, Greene County, AL, Prince George’s County, MD, etc.
It’s a divided country.
Thank you for this post, @johnkluge. You said this more concisely than I did in my post. My head’s about to explode. People like Hugh Hewitt, who I’ve listened to for many years, can’t get it through their heads that Antifa shows up ready to fight 100% of the time. They shut down speech with violence and then they get away with it. That’s what they do. Google Yvette Felarca, who I’m happy to say was arrested a few weeks ago, and read about what Antifa is all about.
The President’s statement was fine. There is no need to single out moronic white supremacists who rarely start the fight, because they know they can’t get away with it. Antifa always starts the fight. Read this LA Times account of the Sacramento brawl last summer.
You also nailed the basic point of policing. This goes to the heart of the social contract. The sovereign draws its authority from its responsibility to impose order. When the police give the governed “room to destroy”, they should not complain when things and people get destroyed. They abdicated their responsibility as sovereign.