Of all of the adjectives I could apply to the violence at the Unite the Right rally in Virginia, “unimaginable” would be quite low on the list. No, I’m sorry to say that it was pretty imaginable. Predictable even, considering how these Antifa/BLM and White Nationalist/Alt-Right/Whatever fools both keep escalating their mutual hatred with relish at every new opportunity.
A few months ago, there were some on the Left who were amused to see Richard Spencer get punched. After that, it was somehow considered to be a noble on righteous thing to “punch a Nazi”. This attitude was circulated even by a lot of usually-respectable people who should have known better. Noam Chomsky tried to warn the Left about the folly of holding this attitude, but it fell on deaf ears. Then came the Berkeley riot and now this.
The more extreme elements of the Left, struggling with the idea that they are losing politically, have embraced violence as an acceptable form of “resistance”. In the White Nationalist, they’ve found a happy enemy. Nazis are and always have been thugs. If street violence is what Antifa and its ilk wants, they’ll find plenty of it and more people will die in the course of whatever it is they think they’re trying to accomplish.
No, I’m not blaming the victims in Charlottesville. Heather Heyer was just crossing the street at the wrong time, by all accounts. I also don’t believe that all of the people who were injured were participating in violent acts (although some definitely were). Again, I don’t think what Heather Heyer’s murderer did was justified, but I will never stop reminding everyone that violence begets violence.
This is why I consistently condemn the violent rhetoric coming from both sides. Every time some brutal act occurs whether it is a protester getting assaulted at a Trump rally, an attendee at a Trump rally getting assaulted, a Republican Congressman getting shot, or protesters getting run down it should be taken by the American public as a warning. It’s a chance for us to reassess the path that we’re on and agree that the extremists on both sides must be condemned and abandoned. Even now, I’m saying that it’s not too late and we can resolve our differences peacefully. We’re a long, long way from another civil war, contrary to what some believe.
Of course, the violence isn’t going to stop anytime soon. I don’t know when–or even if–sanity will reassert itself. Both sides will point to Charlottesville as proof of the other side’s fundamental wickedness and use it to justify ever greater violent acts.
The Right sees the Left’s calls for violence not only as a challenge, but also a dream come true. They feel embattled and threatened as the prospect of a “white genocide” circulates among their favorite message boards. Inevitably, whenever left-wing protesters start punching “Nazis”, they end up punching perfectly normal white people who aren’t involved in the Alt-Right nor do they agree with anything it stands for.
White Nationalists love it when this happens for the same reason ISIS likes it when there’s a backlash against Muslims in Western countries following a terrorist attack by an Islamic radical. It polarizes those communities against each other. It forces people to take a side and spurs them to join the fight. ISIS wants Muslims to think that living peacefully isn’t an option in infidel lands. White Nationalists want whites to think that they can’t really live in peace with minorities and their liberal sympathizers and that they will have to protect themselves.
Witness that they’re already claiming that the killer acted in self-defense or maybe he “panicked”. That Antifa had surrounded his car and that he was in fear of his life. They’re not the least bit sorry that Heyer was killed. This violence isn’t senseless when either side does it. It has a purpose, it’s just that it doesn’t serve the interests of sane or decent people so it’s still hard for us to grasp what it all means.
The challenge is mostly on local governments to decide what they do to ensure public safety during protests. If there’s one lesson I hope they learn from Charlottesville, it’s that all protesters should be disarmed of anything that could be used as a weapon, vehicle traffic should be contained, and outbreaks of fighting should prompt an immediate forceful response by police. This was preventable, I say. As preventable as it was predictable.
I hate to say it, but the wingnuts on both sides cannot be trusted to restrain themselves. I think they’ll do far worse before all is said and done, if allowed to. Local and state governments are going to have to use violence where appropriate to keep them from killing each other and normal people in our streets. Violence isn’t speech and deserves no constitutional protection nor should it ever have approval from the public.