It’s hard to fathom how quickly this went to pieces. The white nationalist rally and subsequent violence in Charlottesville over the weekend was nothing short of a horrifying sensory overload.
A friend with whom I was commiserating said to me “I can’t believe this all happened in a weekend.” These are events that one would expect to take a few day’s worth of protesting and violence, but it was all crammed into one day and managed to point out pretty much every single major flaw in our society.
There were several key takeaways from this weekend, but I’ve managed to condense it into some main points that we have to address if we ever hope to move on from it.
White supremacists feel emboldened by Trump and his campaign.
This cannot be disputed. They say it, others say it of them, and the evidence is right before our eyes. If you see a conservative online saying this isn’t so, that person is lying. They felt and feel emboldened. It’s simply a fact.
Throughout his campaign, many of us here at RedState and elsewhere in conservative media warned that presidential candidate Donald Trump needed to distance himself very publicly from the “alt-right,” a movement which is just a glorified white supremacist movement. This was due in no small part to his ties to Bannon-bart, but also just his own personality cult. His campaign talking points and promises were dog-whistles to these self-identified white nationalists, who have not been mainstream for decades.
However, now they feel like they are mainstream, and yes, to a certain extent, that is on the President. His hesitation to call their movement by name this weekend, something many GOP lawmakers criticized him over, is an utter failure on his part and the part of those attempting to advise and guide him. When David Duke says a rally of racist neo-Nazis is a “fulfillment” of your campaign’s promise, your immediate reaction should be to publicly state that, as a matter of fact, it is not. This is not me or us. He didn’t do that.
What Trump did do, to his credit, was publicly slam political violence in general. That is also important, though it need not be exclusionary. He did not address the movement behind that specific violence and, let us not forget, death. He could have done both. Failing to call this what it was is exactly like the Obama administration refusing to call Islamist terrorism what it is.
There are a lot of internet pundits throwing temper tantrums over this, claiming he’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. But the fact is, he didn’t. Sorry. You’re just going to have to face that fact. Therefore …
The White House has to address this immediately.
Because these literal neo-Nazis felt emboldened by candidate Donald Trump, it is time for President Donald Trump to speak out and, clearly and with no uncertainty in his words, disavow any and every white supremacist who uses his name as justification for their actions. That is going to be tough, because Trump is hesitant to piss off any voters who went with him in 2016, and there is a not insignificant number of people who dislike darker skin tones who voted for Trump.
That means that advisers are going to have to step up. First and foremost, deal with the utterly toxic Steve Bannon, a destructive force who in the past personally described his former publication Breitbart as an alt-right outlet. That is not okay, and Bannon at this point is far too heavy a negative to be useful to the president any longer. The second thing pretty much all administration officials have to do is come together to convince Trump that addressing this head on and without hedging is not only important to do, but important to do immediately. Someone must have the courage to risk his wrath by telling the truth.
The final thing that needs to happen in the White House is someone has to be forceful with Trump about Twitter. Yes, we’ve gone over this many times at RedState, but the issue has not resolved. If anything it has devolved. Let him use it as his primary channel for communicating with the masses, but for the love of God find some way to get those tweets looked over before they are sent out. Everyone can benefit from a second set of eyes (I know I could), even the mighty Trump. The off-the-cuff thing has to stop.
There is no conservative defense of the rally attendees.
Sorry. There isn’t. There is nothing you can say that makes anything about that rally (before, during, or after the violence) defensible. The people who attended the rally are people who believe that Americans who do not look like them should be kicked out. They believe in a genetic superiority of their own race, and all others are worthless.
These are not people you should be defending at any point ever, so don’t. The “what about x” situations have to stop. Just because someone else did something doesn’t make what’s happening now okay. It doesn’t justify it. It doesn’t make it right or proper. The fact that we keep having this damn argument over white freaking supremacists just shows how messed up the conservative movement has gotten.
The alt-right is a group of leeches who have latched themselves onto the Republican Party and the conservative movement in order to create some sort of America that never existed. And, God as my witness, I won’t let it ever exist.
On a side note, it has been correctly pointed out that this group was pieced together with activists from all over the country. Spencer and his scumbags had a decently sized rally, but only because of planes and cars and spare time and disposable income. True. But it’s also true that you can, with your own eyes, see how amplified their message is online. Not just by the THOUSANDS of like-minded dirtbags on trash websites, but also by retweet. A lot of conservative or Trumpist blogger/writer/pundit types retweet the upper crust of the alt-reich and spread their message.
So they may have to fly in to Virginia, but they are everywhere online and they exist around the country. It’s an actual problem. You can’t just sniff your nose and pretend nothing’s there. Dishonesty isn’t conservative, either.
“Antifa” and other Leftist activists opened the door to this with their own protests.
However, the moral preening from the “antifa” movement and other liberal activist groups has to stop. The violence, the destruction of property, the shouting down of all political opponents, has led to this moment.
The obvious argument here is “Well Antifa hasn’t killed anybody!” and it is a stupid argument. Congressman Steve Scalise was shot leaving baseball practice because a lunatic who bought into the “Republicans Are Evil And Must Be Destroyed” decided to make it a reality.
It wasn’t a disgruntled Republican that did that. It was a guy who was obsessed with those liberal talking points that pulled that trigger.
The most extreme people on the Right and the Left get violent. The problem we now face is that there seem to be more and more extremists appearing every day.
This could have been prevented. By both sides.
Democratic and Republican politicians have a hand in what happened on Saturday, and in anything like it that happens going forward. The amount of disturbing, unnecessarily harsh rhetoric from both sides, including but not limited to accusations of attempted murder and predictions of apocalyptic consequence, have to be toned down or eradicated completely. The level of intellectual dishonesty it takes to accuse either side of wanting to kill people or destroy the world is shameful. The healthcare debate, the immigration debate, and even debates within the parties. These are rife with demonization so extreme and so vile it’s practically a miracle things aren’t worse.
We’ve seen fist fights, destruction of property, fires, loss of life, people bringing weapons they intend to use to political rallies … that’s just in the last few months. The fact that politicians are unable or unwilling to seriously and honestly address this is indicative of cowardice through the lot of them. It’s not just Trump, convenient though that would be. They have all failed.
Politicians are utterly terrified of losing support among an increasingly rabid and vocal minority within their base. They think they have to toe the line with them in order to stay in power. The cost of doing so, that can be counted in destruction and even death.