Historically, political violence in the U.S. has ebbed and flowed, but the events in Charlottesville by white supremacists mark a definite escalation in politically-motivated violence perpetrated by the alt-right and radical left.
Why has there been an increase in political violence?
Jennet Kirkpatrick, a professor at Arizona State University, would contend that the media and politicians have contributed to “the breakdown of political speech. This occurs when citizens and politicians no longer see the point of communicating with others, especially with those they disagree … violence may appear to be a better response.” While these fascists remain solely responsible for their acts, this phenomena may indirectly affect these domestic terrorist groups.
The breakdown of free speech is irrefutably true, and most apparent on college campuses like UC Berkeley, where I am currently a student.
Time and time again, experts on political violence use the word “response” as a euphemism for politically violent tactics. Reactionary groupthink is essential to fueling action by the hate groups we’ve seen active in Charlottesville and Berkeley.
The alt-right and extreme left are different sides of the same coin because they participate in these fascistic “responses.”
In the case of the alt-right, they are responding in an evil, violent way to expanding political correctness because they perceive it as censorship. The catalyst for the militant left has been the election of Donald Trump.
They each feel threatened by the others’ ideology, and the result has been the intensification of violence for self-proclaimed "survival."
Monday morning, the president explicitly called out white supremacist hate groups in a statement from the White House. However, critics of the president are claiming it is too little too late.
Trump's earlier statement condemned political violence on “all sides" and insisted "we are ALL AMERICANS FIRST” regardless of "our color, creed, religion or political party.” One would assume emphasizing national identity over race and recognizing the pattern of political violence in America would be more than satisfactory.
But several leaders of the Left simply refuse to acknowledge this clear message. They label this statement as un-presidential and unsatisfactory, and completely ignored politically-motivated violence from leftists.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) tweeted, "Of course we condemn ALL that hate stands for. Until @POTUS specifically condemns alt-right action in Charlottesville, he hasnt done his job."
Bernie Sanders tweeted, "No, Mr. President. This is a provocative effort by Neo-Nazis to foment racism and hatred and create violence. Call it out for what it is." I
CNN editor -at-large Chris Cillizza wrote a piece titled “Donald Trump's incredibly unpresidential statement on Charlottesville”:
Picking a ‘worst’ from Donald Trump's statement … isn’t easy. But, the emphasis of "on many sides" — Trump repeated that phrase twice — is, I think, the low ebb.
Both sides don’t … get into fistfights with people who don't see things their way. They don't create chaos and leave a trail of injured behind them.
Arguing that, ‘both sides do it’ deeply misunderstands the hate and intolerance at the core of this "Unite the Right" rally. These people are bigots. They are hate-filled. … This is not a "conservatives say this, liberals say that" sort of situation. We all should stand against this sort of violent intolerance and work to eradicate it from our society — whether Democrat, Republican, Independent or not political in the least. …
There is no "other side" doing similar things here.”
First and foremost, Cillizza is right about evil bigotry fueling those disgusting Nazis, and unity against violent intolerance in our society is necessary. While it's still hard to pick a “worst” part of Cillizza’s analysis, his repetition of the false claim that “both sides don’t” commit acts of hateful, political violence three times takes the cake. Is Cillizza really this willfully ignorant about leftist violence?
However, he wasn’t alone in this charade. In response to the president’s statements, CNN pundit Van Jones said, “there’s just enough good in that statement that some people are confused why those of us who are concerned are concerned. The problem is the ‘many sides.’ Can you imagine if at Fort Hood when there was a Muslim shooter who shot down a bunch of Americans and a president came out and said, ‘listen there has been violence on many sides.’ That would not work because you have dead bodies. In the case of Charlottesville, three families are preparing for funerals. That’s only on one side.”
Showing up “with shields and beating people,” he says (ignoring that Antifa protesters did show up armed) “is only coming from one side. So when he says its coming from many sides what that does is create a false equivalence. … But there is only one side that is murderous.”
The alt-right's disgusting views they use as vindication of political violence deserve direct condemnation, and Trump has now done so implicitly and explicitly. However, Trump recognizing "both sides" is integral in the fight to put an end to fascistic violence.
The Left must also condemn regressive ideologies leftists use to justify their violent tactics, instead of disingenuously claiming violence is "one sided" and emboldening them.
As a Berkeley College Republican, I’ve personally been victimized by domestic terrorist organizations like Antifa. There is nothing I hate more than the alt-right; however, because I do not adhere to Antifa’s regressive leftism, I am a target.
During the Berkeley riots, Antifa laid siege to the building the Berkeley College Republicans were locked in. Since then, my friends and I have been threatened with violence, even death, directly, and our information has been doxxed publicly.
This is unmistakably fascistic in nature and mirrors the actions of Hitler’s brownshirts in the 1930s and other fascistic-nationalist movements. Their political identities would blend perfectly with the nationalist-socialist movements led by Mussolini and Hitler in the early 20th century.
Expert on political extremism at George Washington University, J.J. McNabb, said, "This is a dangerous game; people are going to die.” Sadly, three families are left to plan funerals after the tragedy in Charlottesville.
In response to this tragedy, the president’s call for law and order is long overdue. As someone who has witnessed how radicals on the Left and Right are emboldened by impotent law enforcement, the only solution is a “swift return to law and order” in cities like Charlottesville and Berkeley. Any form of political violence is repugnant fascism. America has quashed fascism abroad before, and I am confident we can do it at home.
Bradley Devlin is a student at the University of California Berkeley studying Political Economy and serves as the secretary of the Berkeley College Republicans.