The President Was Too Even-Handed About Charlottesville

Back in the eighties, I interviewed a group called the “Backroom Anarchist Center”. They were a bunch of dissipate university students who had a clubhouse in South Minneapolis, and used to roam about demonstrating against stuff – provided it was conservative stuff. I booked several of their leaders on my old KSTP show, which ran from 2-4 AM on weekends. Their phone numbers were all – every last one – from the nicer parts of Edina, Minnehaha Parkway and Woodbury. These “anarchists” were inevitably the children of immense privilege; their parents were professors, non-profiteers, insurance salespeople – *not* hot tar roofers and truck drivers. I never kept track of any of ’em, but I suspect they’re doing just fine socially and financially today.

The President took a lot of flak after his first response to Charlottesville for criticizing all violence at the riot, “right” and left.   “Don’t lump Nazis together with “Anti”-Fa”, Big Left bellowed in unison.  “They’re good kids, and they mean well, and they’re attacking evil people”.

I didn’t vote for Trump – and I’m going to criticize his false equivalence in this case.

“Anti”-Fa is much worse than the Nazis, is a much greater danger to our society, and deserves far greater condemnation.

There are three reasons:

  • “Anti”-Fa has a long history of violence against peaceful demonstrators
  • “Fascists” are the fringe of the fringe (rhetoric aside)
  • “Anti”-Fa actually has power.

The Road Goes On Forever, And The Party Never Ends:  If your entire awareness of the battle between “far-right” lunacy and left-wing violence started with Charlottesville – and for many, it clearly did – you might think that both sides are about the same.

Of course, there’s a long, ugly history of “Anti”-Fa attacks on “fascists”.

Unfortunately, in most of those cases the “Fasicsts”, weren’t, outside the “Everyone we don’t like is a “fascist”” sense of the term.   They were Trump supporters (no, not the same thing), Republicans, even left-leaning college professors who made the mistake of standing up for free speech.

The bottom of the barrel – so far – came in Boston over the weekend.  About fifty people – bipartisan free-speech advocates who had expressly disinvited all extremists – held a free speech rally at Boston Common.  They were by thousands of “counterprotesters”, led by a gang of blackshirted “Anti”-fa screaming “F**k Free Speech”.  Violence was had.

The media didn’t care, naturally.

It was similar to the March 4th Trump rally at the Minnesota state Capitol, where “Anti”-Fa blackshirts came to a peaceful, permitted rally with masks, mace and weapons at the ready;  they attacked the crowd of  middle-aged, workadaddy, hugamommy Trump supporters; they sucker-punched a seventeen year old girl, they hit an older woman in the head with a burning smoke bomb, they bear-sprayed a group of people resisting them in the face.

This, of course, put a lot of people in a mind to either avoid rallies, or to meet fire with fire – both of them goals of all extremists.

There’s been a sold year-long buildup to the idea of fighting back against the Blackshirts.

The Blues Brothers Said It Best:  This may be the only time I ever compliment Hollywood.  Ever.

In the wake of the 1979 Nazi march through Skokie – home of thousands of concentration camp survivors – Hollywood responded, unintentionally but brilliantly.    In the original Blues Brothers movie, the Nazis chasing Jake and Elwood Blues were lampooned to a fine sheen; portrayed as bumbling, deliusional, and just a tad closeted before plunging to ignominious doom.

If you remember the movie, you remember the scene.

They could never make it today.

“Nazis” and “White Supremacists” are, precisely, the hapless losers that Kevin Williamson depicted in NRO last week.  They have a fraction of the numbers they had when The Blues Brothers was made (or had a fraction; the lavish publicity the mainstream media has given them this past nine months certainly has to have added a few, even if you filter out the Southern Poverty Law Center’s partisan hysteria).

“But those symbols are themselves weapons, because of what they mean and the history they bring up”.    Symbols truly do have meanings. The First Amendment gives you the same power to exhibit your own symbols, and to show them (so far, anyway).

In 1978, the Nazi Party marked in Skokie, Illinois – a town where a sixth of the people had survived concentration camps.  After several court battles, the Nazis prevailed with the help, inevitably, of the ACLU.

On the day of the parade, 20 Nazis showed up – and were met by thousands of Jews, who shouted them down  (without a punch being thrown) and humilated them, rending them a punch line for the next forty years.  They didn’t erase the swastika’s symbolism – but they did take its power away from them.  Their symbols – the Star of David, the Stars and Stripes – represented the victors; victorious, prosperous people; the Swastikas, the losers.

My biggest concern is that we’re giving them that power again.  Indeed, I think giving them that power is the left’s goal.

Woody – But the biggest reason?   “Anti”-Fa is the children of the upper-middle-class snowflakes that I met at the “Backroom Anarchist Center” way back when – maybe literally.

When the police pulled the masks off the Blackshirts that attacked the March 4th State Capitol rally, one of them was Woody Kain, the son of Virginia senator Tim Kain – AKA the man who would have been Vice President of the United States had conventional wisdom held sway.

I’ve seen these “kids”, most notably around the Republican National Convention in Saint Paul in 2008.  Everything about them screamed the sort of entitlement that comes from being, if not “the elite”, at least someone who rides “the elite’s” coattails.

Which is what makes “Anti”-Fa much more dangerous than the “Alt-Right”:   “Nazis” and “White Supremacists” are not just the fringe, they are the fringe of a part of society that has precisely as much influence as the media and political elite decide to give them.   

On the other hand, “Anti”-Fa are the children of those same elites.  These are not the children of carpenters, struggling to get jobs after community college; as Dennis Prager says, you need an elite education to be this stupid.  These are children who went to Bard and Oberlin and Carlton and Macalester and will, one day, when the lifestyle gets old, will use their class privilege to move seamlessly into positions of power and influence.   They will be tomorrow’s college professors, organizers, non-profiteers, teachers, and politicians.

Having people chanting “we must protect the white race” in an echo chamber is bad.  Having them chanting “F*** Free Speech” in front of a class of impressionable freshmen ten years from now is incalculably worse.

President Trump was too kind.

13 thoughts on “The President Was Too Even-Handed About Charlottesville

  1. Well said. We need to make the hammer and sickle every bit as unacceptable as the swastika.

  2. Good post, Mitch – even tho’ I am a Trump guy.

    Based on what I’ve seen in the MSM, the Antifas are the paramilitary wing of the Democrats, loudly encouraged by some and quietly acceptable to many.

  3. Uve been saying this since day 1. If you do “punch a nazi” you ironically play right into their hand. My dad, God rest his soul, gave me the best advice regarding white supremacist. Ignore them. If you acknowledge and fight them that’s literally exactly what they want you to do so they can respond with violence themselves. If I ever see a rally I turn and go the other way, they aren’t worth debating, punching, or even acknowledgement of their existence. Antifa is heading us directly to civil war and me having to explain on Facebook why I support the white nationalist being able to rally even though I don’t agree with anything they say.

  4. Antifas are the paramilitary wing of the Democrats

    Hmmm. Where have I heard that before. History repeats itself, no?

  5. If I ever see a rally I turn and go the other way, they aren’t worth debating, punching, or even acknowledgement of their existence.

    Smart people don’t go to protests.

  6. Pingback: In The Mailbox: 08.21.17 : The Other McCain

  7. If you fear R Wing violence more than Islamic violence in this country you are a loony. Even the Muslims themselves have more to fear from Muslim violence than from any so-called “white nationalists.”
    This is media smoke and mirrors. One lunatic (certifiable) running over a random person is not comparable to a Berni supporter who tried to literally assassinate the GOP house leadership.
    Forgotten about that already?

  8. I still maintain that the Nazi’s, KKK and white supremacists are all flavors of the left, not the right. The Nazi’s and fascists were only slightly to the right of straight up Communists, not on the opposite side of the balance beam from them.

  9. Loren, I do not believe anyone here would disagree with you. What you stated is an axiom.

  10. I think, Loren, it would be more accurate to describe both the Left and the Euro-style, “Blood & Soil” Right as expressions of Modernism.
    The Right goes to war against the world on behalf of a nation. The Left goes to War against the world on behalf of an idea.
    There are totalitarianisms of the both the Left and the Right. Totalitarianism makes no sense in anything but a Modern environment (since God transcends the State).

  11. Unfortunately, MP, as the Bush 43 administration proved, going to war for an idea is still acceptable among certain supposedly non-extremist cases: let’s conquer Iraq and build a Western-style republic there and show those Islamists what’s possible. It was a huge disappointment to me to see Trump get bit by that bug as manifested by his Afghanistan speech (and the soon-to-be ensuing activities there).

    Some are saying that this is Trump’s Put-Up-Or-Shut-Up to the neocons obsessed with these sorts of shenanigans, but I personally find it very distasteful to do using the bodies of nice southern and midwestern boys.

  12. JDM, in Bush’s defense, what I’ve heard is that after 9/11, clearly something needed to be done to prevent rogue states from using terrorists to wage a proxy war against US civilians and civilian infrastructure. The neocons were the only group with a workable plan. If you can cast your mind back 17 years, to the summer of 2000, you may remember that China was supposed to be public enemy #1, and John McCain, not GW Bush, had the rep of being the neocons’ candidate.
    The debate between serious people, not all of them conservatives, was about what could be done militarily to prevent another 9/11, given that bombing rogue regimes into rubble was not politically acceptable, nor was a retreat from the world stage acceptable.
    With the collapse of the neocon, nation building strategy, there no longer seems to be any plan at all.
    One of the many failures of the MSM is that, given the unpopularity of nation building and endless foreign wars, no one seems to be asking exactly how we would deal with another 9/11. If nation building is out, what is the alternative? Hillary’s plan to simply depose wicked rulers hasn’t been especially fruitful.

  13. MP, I don’t know if Mitch allows continuing discussions that head afield from where they started, but let’s see what happens (and thanks to Mitch for allowing this if so).

    You defended Bush & the Neocons well, but did not address my contention, my counter-contention that the Right does indeed go to war on behalf on an idea. You think it was a good idea – and indeed, in those days, I did too – but time has shown that going to war for anything other well-defined conditions of victory is an ugly waste of time, money, and lives.

    Bush and the Neocons took the easy path of a massive increase in the size of government and a war declaration on a nasty-but-irrelevant SOB’s country; all the while professing that “Islam is peace”. This is an updated version of the old “guns and butter” strategy. Except the MSM and the Democrats weren’t having any of it and exposed the Neocon’s plan for the fraud it was (the fraud would eventually have been revealed, much like the results of Obama and Hillary’s Excellent Adventure in Libya, it just would’ve taken longer).

    And as long as I’m ranting, until this country, the West in general, comes to grips with the enemy that is Islam, this is all going to continue in perpetuity. And the presence of its adherents in the US/West and the importation of more proves to me the fundamentally unserious nature of the so-called War on Terrorism. Unserious and wastefully deadly.

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