Any white nationalists who compelled James Alex Fields in any way to commit the act of terrorism he perpetrated in Charlottesville should be condemned. That’s not just people in direct contact with him. Leaders of the various groups who influenced him from Neo-Nazis to the KKK to the alt-right that directly or indirectly filled this man with hate should be condemned, as should those who have allegiance to these groups.
Any members of the “Anti-Fascists” group, better known as Antifa, who are active in harassing or committing acts of violence against Americans should be condemned. The same goes for members of Black Lives Matters and any other left wing groups who are involved with encouraging or perpetrating acts of violence or harassment.
I could go down a list of groups on both sides of the political aisle, but most readers are already well aware of who they are and how they operate. This has become too commonplace in America over the last decade. It’s time for it to cease, though I have no illusions about that happening. America is different than it was not too long ago. It’s going to be nearly impossible to turn it around quickly because the common theme that has emerged in modern society is this: Hate spreads.
Two things to note about my pessimistic view of the situation. First, by no means would I ever recommend giving up on the fight. Just because I think it won’t work doesn’t mean I won’t continue to push for sensibility and respect for fellow Americans. Second, I am not underestimating the power of the American people to rise up and quash the hatred. I’m speculating that complacency and helplessness will prevent enough Americans from realizing we have the power to stop it. We rely too much on our political “leaders” to handle these types of situations when in reality we’re the only ones who can actually fix it.
We live in a world of constant connectivity. While the rise of information velocity, social media, and mobile access has been beneficial in many ways, these factors have also contributed to amplifying the problems caused by hate. We’re a mobilized people, now. That means that protests such as the one in Charlottesville can draw more supporters. It also means that opposition groups can bring counter-demonstrations together rapidly and in great numbers.
Perhaps more importantly is that this digital age has allowed these groups to stoke the flames in real-time and to huge audiences. Again, modern technology can be a great benefit; we’re using it to launch the Federalist Party with much greater velocity than what was even remotely possible two decades ago. What groups like the Neo-Nazis and Antifa have demonstrated is that it’s much easier to rally people through negativity to be AGAINST an action or group rather than FOR something that may be important to them.
Hatred spreads faster and it’s much more potent, at least in the short term.
I don’t agree with the President or anyone else drawing direct comparisons between white nationalists and Antifa (or any other allegedly right vs left comparison) in an effort to deflect blame. The various groups do things differently, are motivated based upon prejudices unique to them, and have diverse methods for achieving their goals. With that said, I also do not agree with those who believe there are no comparisons at all.
As Scott Greer noted on Daily Caller, the unwillingness to call out ALL hate groups isn’t an act relegated to leftist talking heads. Many Republicans have joined the chorus:
What was most surprising, however, was seeing prominent Republicans stand up for Antifa.
Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney argued violent leftists were morally righteous. “No, not the same. One side is racist, bigoted, Nazi. The other opposes racism and bigotry. Morally different universes,” Romney tweeted Tuesday night.
Romney is not alone. Other Republicans from Marco Rubio to John McCain are singling out white supremacists while pretending that the violent actions of Antifa and other organizations are somehow more righteous.
No, not the same. One side is racist, bigoted, Nazi. The other opposes racism and bigotry. Morally different universes.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) August 16, 2017
There's no moral equivalency between racists & Americans standing up to defy hate& bigotry. The President of the United States should say so
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) August 16, 2017
The only binding force between these groups is hatred. They all have deep levels of hatred and are willing to express this hatred in wholly unacceptable ways. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the KKK attacking minorities, BLM attacking police, or jihadists attacking non-Muslims. Their actions are driven by hatred and result in harm to anyone in their way.
When we isolate our denouncements to one or a few of these groups, we fail to address the root cause. How the President has handled Charlottesville is ludicrous. How his predecessor handled riots in Ferguson and elsewhere was just as ludicrous. We need bold leadership at times like these to properly denounce ALL who act upon the hatred in their hearts, but we have no reason to expect such leadership to manifest itself in DC.
Americans must rise up to condemn the hateful among us. This includes those who orchestrate precarious situations that lead to violent actions. It also includes those who indoctrinate others into their hateful ideologies. Lastly, it includes members who may not directly involve themselves in violence or harassment but who support it in other ways.
Let me be clear: Those who justify the ideology of any hate group, whether it’s white nationalists or Antifa, are part of the problem.
President Trump’s attempt to draw attention away from alt-right groups was as wrong as President Obama’s attempts to justify the actions of violent leftist groups when he was in office. Both participated in deteriorating the fabric of American society. We’ve made great strides in recent decades, but this last decade has been a reversal on progress. The hatred that seemed to have dissipated from the 70s to the turn of the century has reared up intensely over the last two-and-a-half presidential terms. Anyone who argues against his either hasn’t been paying attention or has an agenda to defend.
We cannot sit around and hope the President fixes it. We also cannot rely on the majority of our representatives in DC because they love turmoil. Hatred spawns opportunity for those who can benefit from it with their rhetoric. It gives politicians a cause for which they can make themselves appear to be needed. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel represented a general yet unacknowledged consensus among politicians:
“You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”
We are in the midst of a serious crisis. There will be no leadership to address it coming from DC or state capitals. It’s up to the American people to prevail on our own to draw down the hatred before it consumes us. The question isn’t whether we can. The question is whether we will act in time.