At some point, I will address the events in Charlottesville in a video. Until I do, here is the core of my understanding of events.
Before we go on, let’s get this out of the way. As with every other single time this issue has arisen, the stance of myself and Herdwatching is consistent… violence is not an appropriate response to speech. My defense of the first amendment is absolute and unwavering. That means I will protect the speech even of ideas I find abhorrent, and condemn violence done to suppress it. If from that anyone reading this decides that I must, therefore, be a racist KKK supporter? You’re delusional.
Beyond that, addressing (again) the media narrative that violence of this type is inherent to Trump support or supporters or that the rise in political violence in the US is caused by Trump is outside the scope of this particular post. Suffice to say I believe such to be untrue.
Now, let’s break the event down.
Unite the Right
Who in general are neither white supremacists or members of any similar organization. They wanted to hold a rally in protest of some of the Confederate statues being taken down. Opposition to these removals is not inherently racist nor driven by racial concerns.
White Supremacists / KKK
The minority of those in the rally, these are the idiots you saw with the torches, the white hoods and so on. They have marched in the area in the past and while they are ideologically extreme, have no recent (as in decades) history of rioting or initiating violence.
The left wing counter protest
The folks who disagree with the two groups above, but are willing to accept the concept of free speech and are for the most part non-violent.
“ANTIFA” / “anti-fascist” groups
An extremist wing of the left, the “ANTIFA” groups are the first on the list with a significant history of violent assault in the last decade. In general, their tactics include arson, chemical weapons, throwing weapons (in this case jars of concrete), etc. ANTIFA groups have shut down colleges, destroyed businesses and homes and well as injured many they wish to prevent from speaking. They openly call for violence, and their leaders hold training in how to use force.
Black Lives Matter
Obviously and understandably in opposition to the first two groups. BLM has a mixed history when it comes to violence with some full-scale riots to their credit as well as some police assassinations. Some of the BLM leadership openly encourages such assassinations.
James Alex Fields (suspect)
The driver of a vehicle that was used as a weapon targeting ANTIFA members. It looks like this was a premeditated incident of what can only be considered domestic terrorism. If indeed it is James Fields, he looks to be a far right-wing person with a history of violence. His membership or adherence to any white supremacy organizations is currently unknown but obviously suspected.
Due to the nature of the political leadership in Charlottesville, the police were very reluctant to interfere with ANTIFA and BLM groups who arrived armed and often with their faces covered. The police were, however, very careful to treat the unite the right groups as a threat. They also say the white supremacists as a group worth watching, but no one should fault them for that.
In short? This whole event was a ticking bomb and anyone with a brain should have known to call it off. Not only was it going to be violent and dangerous but it served none of the ostensible political purposes of those on the right who held it. Obviously, it fit perfectly into the political strategy of the left.
There was violence, eventually partaken of by many at the scene. No side has clean hands.
Based on available information, the initiation of violence followed the pattern historically seen at ANTIFA counter-protests. Masked ANTIFA members smuggled weapons into the area and began assaulting their chosen victims. There are reports of bottles filled with concrete, pepper spray and made as well as assaults with blunt objects. it is common for ANTIFA to initate violence and has resulted in arrests in the past. In this instance there is no indication local law enforcement took steps to limit ANTIFA’s activities.
Because of this history, those marches targeted by ANTIFA now have attracted their own element that is willing to use violence. These members often dress of ad-hoc armor and form a perimeter to protect the protest. While this has on several occasions prevented injuries to those unprepared for assaults by ANTIFA members, it does have the side effect of ratcheting up tensions. Essentially there is a arms race between those ANTIFA seeks to assault, and the lengths those groups go to attempt to protect themselves.
Exactly why we have come to the point where the left feels comfortable calling for organized political violence to suppress speech they disagree with is also a topic for another time.
The violence culminated in the vehicular assault of an ANTIFA group by a driver aligned with the far right. The driver was apprehended and we hope the charges will include domestic terrorism.
While so far it seems that the driver was motivated by sympathies on the right side of the political divide, such sympathy alone does not draw a causal link to those views and obviously not to President Trump. The simple alignment of some aspects of a belief system does not indicate total alignment.
For instance, a lot of completely reasonable Democrats believe in higher taxation on “the 1%” as do a lot of anti-democracy communist groups. That alignment of some thought does not mean every Democrat is a communist. Similarly many on the left are pro-choice, a position also taken by a number of groups who wish to preferentially genocide oen race or another, If not humanity as a whole. That doesn’t mean every Democrat supports genocide etc.
I lied, we’ll touch on this after all.
In the last few months, we have had several attempted assassinations by left wing assailants who were clearly using DNC talking points to motivate their thinking. Once of these individuals opened fire on a group of Republican elected officials. Before that, we have had police assassinations, riots destroying millions of dollars in property and assailants hired by the DNC to instigate violence to shut down opponents.
Oddly, CNN did not rush to lay the blame for that at the feet of Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. In fact, once it was clear that their attempts to blame “Trump Rhetoric” for these things was failing, they just sort of shut up about it all.
Of course, that won’t happen here. Despite the history of ANTIFA initiated political violence this incident will be laid at Trump’s feet. And the driver of that car? He will be shown as proof that Trump supporters are violent racists whereas if he had been a Muslin shouting “Allahu Akbar” he would be an aberrant person with mental issues.
None of this violence is OK… but neither is a media deliberately inciting it, excusing one “side” for doing it and amplifying fear and panic.