By now I daresay all my readers are aware of the tragic - and totally avoidable - events in Charlottesville, VA last weekend. I don't propose to add to the extraordinary amount of sturm und drang being flung around over the incident. I would, however, like to make some sober, factual points about it.
First, this is what happens when two opposite political extremes decide to take their arguments to the streets. Both sides are at fault, and both sides are equally wrong. What's more, both sides got what they wanted.
- The racist extreme Right should not have tried to force their right to express themselves - and yes, it is a right - on a city that did not want them to be there. They could have chosen to hold their gathering in a less inflammatory place . . . but they wanted a confrontation, and the added publicity that they knew would result.
- The progressive extreme Left (personified in this instance by those claiming to be Antifa, but including a number of other groups) should not have chosen to make this a battleground by deliberately arming themselves to confront and 'beat down' the right-wing demonstrators. They could have held a counter-demonstration at a safer distance (for which coverage from a sympathetic news media would have been guaranteed); but they wanted a confrontation, and the added publicity they knew would result.
Second, the authorities are at fault for what looks like a deliberate abdication of their law enforcement responsibilities. I don't believe their excuses, as quoted at the links. It is the job of law enforcement agencies to enforce the law equally across any and all political, social, cultural and economic spectra. It seems very clear, from multiple accounts, that the police stepped back from the violence and allowed it to play itself out. That is not policing. That is abandoning the city to extremism. It's a dereliction of duty, plain and simple - and, in this case, it made matters much worse. Any and all armed demonstrators should have been disarmed before things could get out of hand. If they resisted, they should have been arrested. Plain and simple.
Third, as I've warned many times in these pages, extremism of any kind - political, social, economic, cultural, religious, whatever - is dangerous. You can discuss, argue rationally, and debate with, any person of basic good will. You cannot do any of those things with an extremist. They will insist on their position, and react more and more aggressively - and, in due course, violently - to disagreement and opposition. Therefore, it's time for all right-thinking Americans to shun all those, on either end of the political spectrum, who believe that violence is a legitimate expression of their perspective. It is not. There is no room for such nonsense in any civilized society. If violence is allowed to take root in our politics - as appears to have been the case over the past few years - we risk the disruption and eventual destruction of our political system. That cannot be allowed to happen.
Fourth, this cannot and should not be turned into an occasion to criticize President Trump's response to the crisis. He did exactly what his predecessor did when faced with a similar crisis. Compare and contrast President Obama's response to the Dallas police shootings, and President Trump's response to Charlottesville last weekend. Both statements were temperate, trying to pour oil on troubled waters, and both acknowledged that there were many sides to the situation. Both Presidents were heavily criticized by partisan sources for failing to come down more heavily against one side or the other - but both were correct in trying to address the whole nation's needs, rather than one part of the nation. That's what being Presidential entails. If President Trump is to be condemned for his statement, then let's hear his critics' perspective on President Obama's words a couple of years earlier. Unless they condemn both statements equally, they're displaying partisan bias, and should be treated with the contempt they deserve.
Fifth, we need to look to our own security. I've written on several occasions about the need to be elsewhere when something like this happens. If you're caught up in it, you cannot guarantee your safety or those of your loved ones. Get clear before it goes down . . . but if you can't, be prepared to defend yourself. For example, here's a photograph of one of the demonstrators deploying a home-made flamethrower against some right-wingers.
The demonstrator wielding the flamethrower should have been either instantly arrested, or, if that had not been possible, he should have been instantly shot. He was deploying deadly force, something that could injure and perhaps kill innocent persons. He should have been taken out, right there, right then.
I won't be found among racist demonstrators like that . . . but as an innocent bystander, if anyone, of whatever persuasion, is ever so unwise as to try that against me, he's going to suffer the consequences. I will not permit thugs like that to attack me, no matter what the subsequent cost may be. They must be stopped. Period. I suggest that all my readers adopt a similar position. We - and the country as a whole - will be safer that way.
I disagree equally with both extremes of political opinion on display in Charlottesville last weekend. Neither deserves any place in American political discourse . . . but both are present, and in larger numbers than we might wish to imagine. We are going to have to deal with both of them. That's inevitable. We may as well get used to the idea.
There is, of course, humor. It's a much underrated response to such nonsense, and can help to defuse tensions. This, for example, was found on Facebook by Miss D., and caused both of us to laugh.
Yep. Racist doofi with tiki torches. Says it all, doesn't it?