ANALYZING THE CHARLOTTESVILLE VIOLENCE
Posted on August 25th, 2017
Recent violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, has attracted much media attention. As usual, mass media outlets have put their particular political spin in their reports. This article is an attempt to find the roots of the issue.
Several so-called “Alt-Right” (meaning, strong “conservative” or “right-wing” political ideology) groups planned a rally for August 12 in Charlottesville, Virginia. One goal of the meeting was to protest the proposed removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Some groups of African Americans and others feel that such statues glorify men who fought to maintain slavery in the US, and therefore the statues should be removed, rather than adored.
The day before the planned rally (which organizers say was to be the largest White-Nationalist rally in 20 years, in the US) some of the participants marched through the University of Virginia campus carrying torches and shouting “White lives matter!”, “Blood and soil!”, and “Jews will not replace us!” The White Nationalists feel that white people are being blamed for too much in America, citing, for example, that black Africans were responsible for most of the selling of other black Africans to white slave-traders in Africa. Africans and Native Americans practiced slavery long before the use of black slaves by white people, yet whites are blamed for promoting slavery in America (according to White Nationalist groups).
Meanwhile, the so-called Alt-Left (meaning strong “liberal” or “left-wing” political ideology) knew of the planned rally and organized a counter-rally. On Saturday morning, the 12th, the two groups encountered each other in a park in Charlottesville and violence ensued. At about 2 p.m., after most of the Alt-Right protesters had dispersed, a car driven by a White Nationalist rammed into a crowd of counter-protesters, leaving one woman dead and several others injured. The City of Charlottesville had earlier declared a local state of emergency because of fighting between the two sides. Some feel that the police and city officials did not do enough to keep the two groups separated.
Both sides of the protest knew beforehand that things could turn violent. Therefore some on both sides came to the event armed. Some carried guns, while others carried sticks and wore helmets and carried homemade shields. Bags of human waste, 2X4s, bricks, mace, frozen water bottles, and sticks were all used in the foray. This was not the first confrontation between the two groups. While the “Alt-Right” has been organized online (with Neo-Nazi, Ku Klux Klan, and White Supremist websites), the “Alt-Left” does not have a central organization. Included in the “Alt-Left” counter-rally were groups such as “Black Lives Matter,” which is not necessarily on the extreme “left” political spectrum, but rather concerns itself with issues surrounding oppression of black people.
The “Alt-Left” is represented by a group known as Antifa (pronounced ON’-ti-fa). Antifa is short for “Anti-fascist.” A Fascist is a supporter of a strong nationalistic movement, such at Hitler in Germany and Mussulini in Italy during the early 1900s, political movements that tried to build a nation around a particular ethnic group (in Hitler’s case, Germans). Antifa supporters have no central leadership and are “organized” into local cell groups in various cities. Each local group may have a specific agenda that may not exactly match the next group. As such, one cell may be promoting communism, the next may promote gay rights, and the next may be anarchists (no government), and the next anti-capitalist. One thing Antifa groups have in common: they oppose the Alt-Right political movement. In a general sort of way, Antifa could be said to be a reforming of the “Occupy Wall Street” protests from a few years back, with some taking a more violent position.
Antifa has a reputation of violence. During Donald Trump’s inauguration, they smashed and burned a limousine. In California, they have become violent in protesting against political speakers who represent the political right. They openly acknowledge that they use violence, but say that since the government does not stop the “hate speech” of the extreme right, they are forced to use violence to stop it. While claiming to support “free speech,” they say that “hate speech” is not “free speech” and therefore must be stopped … even if it requires violence to do so. So even though the Alt-right groups had official permits to hold their rally in Charlottesville, Antifa felt that they had a moral duty to stop the rally, even if it needed to use clubs and mace to do so.
Antifa members sometimes prefer anonymity, dressing in full black with covered faces at rallies. This may be a way for them to use violence without being recognized.
THE CAR INCIDENT IN CHARLOTTESVILLE
One incident in the Charlottesville violence receives a lot of attention: a White Supremacist rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters. Media outlets that promote a “liberal” or “left” political view were quick to say that the driver was from the “Alt-Right” and plowed into the group of “peaceful” counter-protesters.
Only God and the driver knows what the intentions were, but details have surfaced that make it unclear exactly what may have been the man’s reason for driving into the crowd. Video captured by bystanders show the car proceeding down the narrow one-way street. A reporter from the Los Angeles Times says it was proceeding at a normal speed. Someone on the sidewalk then struck the rear of the car with a baseball bat as it passed (for reasons unknown). At that point the car suddenly sped forward. It it thought that perhaps the driver reacted in fear or panic (the baseball bat smack may have sounded like gunfire to him), then drove into the crowd ahead of him, rear-ending another vehicle. The approaching counter-protesters were only dozens of yards ahead of him when his car was hit with the bat and he sped forward.
As soon as the car plowed into the vehicle vehicles in front of it (two cars were slowed/stopped because counter-protesters were coming up the middle of the street in front of them), video shows several people dressed in black jumping out of the crowd, trying to bust the windows out of the car. Immediately the driver went in reverse at high speed, running into a few more people as it left.
In summary, many media outlets reported that the incident was a purposeful ramming into a peaceful crowd of counter-protesters. The fact is that some of those “peaceful” protesters were armed with sticks. While the driver of the car may have had evil intentions, video from the scene indicates that he may have drove innocently into a situation where he felt trapped and then panicked. And when counter-protesters started beating out his car windows, he very likely felt his life was in danger.
The Charlottesville violence was a clash between two “extreme” political agendas.
Both sides knew in advance that there was likely to be a confrontation and came armed. Most major media outlets have condemned the violence and views of the “Alt-Right” while being initially quiet about the “Alt-Left” violence. A day or two after the events, as the presence of the relatively-unknown Antifa and their tactics were exposed, the major media outlets have published some information about the movement.
The bottom line is that the vast majority of Americans do not support the political agenda of either two sides who proceeded to use violence on each other in Charlottesville.
Yet major media outlets attempted to use the events to muddy the reputation of whichever political ideology they stood opposed to, instead of reporting that the violence was the work of two radical opposing groups who planned in advance for a confrontation.
A few hundred radical people on each side have been used to stigmatize or blame one political party or the other.