Charlottesville, VA — The usually busy streets of the historic downtown of Charlottesville saw its tourists and locals substituted with heavily armed police and protesters this afternoon, following altercations which lasted from Friday night through to Saturday morning.
Originally billed as a protest in favour of free speech — alongside the disdain over the removal of Confederate statues in the city — the “alt-right” rally found itself transformed into a torch-wielding, Nazi-flag waving dereliction of American values — at least considering the publicity afforded to the event, and the behaviour of some of the rally’s attendees.
In brief, what transpired amounted to a disgusting and unwelcome throwback to segregationist ideas and rhetoric at a time when patriotic conservatism is gaining ground. While many media minutes and deliberations will be afforded to the fascistic right, almost none will be dedicated to the fascistic left.
Gun control supporter Governor Terry McAuliffe was whisked into a downtown building under massively armed police protection in the middle of the afternoon, via a small alleyway off Main Street. One female witness to the scene shouted, “Thank you for showing up!”
On Main Street, after the initial violence, hard leftists sang songs, re-purposing Lady Gaga’s hit song “Paparazzi” with the words “pop a Nazi”. One man told me he was told it was the “wrong day to be white in this town,” while the abandoned stores and bars sported signs that read: “We kindly ask to respect our policy to not bring weapons inside our restaurant or on our patio”.
In the mid afternoon — after protesters were run over by a car, leaving one dead — stick-wielding left-wing activists roamed the streets aimlessly in groups of four or five. One such group screamed: “F**k Donald Trump,” as a girl — clearly unrelated to either side — walked past them.
A few hours later, McAuliffe took the opportunity to address the nation from the stage of the Albemarle County office building, flanked by local officials, as well as a man in a t-shirt which read “Menace II Supremacy”.
McAuliffe flipped back and forth between urging for calm and unity, and demanding division while insisting pro-Confederate statue protesters were persona non grata in his Commonwealth.
He lauded presidents Jefferson and Washington, but ran entirely contrary to their commitments to free speech by declaring of protesters: “There is no place for you in America”.
Insisting “we were here to bring people together and unify folks”, he added “We are a nation of immigrants… unless you’re native American”.
“Please go home and never come back,” he said to Unite the Right protesters, adding: “Take your hatred and take your bigotry”.
Instead of a call for dialogue, or even trying to explain what would be a totally reasonable and easily-made argument against flying Nazi flags or torch-lit demonstrations, he chose to further drive a wedge, as did those who flanked him on stage.
“They’re going to be in the trash heap of history,” said the Charlottesville mayor, while police chief Al Thomas defended the police strategy on the day. Despite having had weeks of notice, as well granting a protest permit to alt-right protesters, there were three fatalities and many injured. In an oddly nativist tone, he declared “outsiders do not tell our story”.
The media tone is also evidently one-sided. While no one — including this website — would take up the cause of defending the actions of the alt right or Nazi flag wavers, it is important to note how quickly many have chosen to lump the blame at the doorstep of President Donald Trump.
CNN issued a push notification to app users’ mobile devices around 8:30pm local time stating: “President Trump fails to condemn the alt-right and white supremacists in his statement about violence in Charlottesville, Virginia”.
No such accusations were hurled by the establishment media at Democrat leaders when a Bernie Sanders supporter shot at Republican congressmen in June.
In brief, it can be said with demonstrable authority that while Republicans and conservatives are very swift to decry extremists claiming to act in the name of their causes, the left do no such thing. In fact, they continue to fund and support antiFa and radical elements in their ranks, scarcely asked questions by the establishment media, and without any contritition for the divisions caused as a result.
I asked Gov. McAuliffe four times tonight to condemn in equal measure the violence of antiFa. I didn’t want him to rescind criticism of the alt right. I didn’t expect him to be nuanced. But I did think — perhaps foolishly — that he might want to distance himself from violent tactics on both sides. I supposed wrong.
Raheem Kassam is the editor in chief of Breitbart London