On Monday, Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas held a press conference at which he addressed the incidents that occurred over the weekend during the alt-right protest.
Thomas noted that “around ten o’clock, the #UniteTheRight attendees began arriving and entering Emancipation Park. We had a plan to bring them in at the rear of the park. They had agreed to cooperate with the plan. Unfortunately they did not follow the plan. They began entering at different locations in and around the park and we had to quickly alter our plans to help facilitate that process.”
He continued, mentioning “other groups”:
Other groups also began amassing along the street and in the park. Gradually, the crowd sizes increased along with aggressiveness and hostility of attendees toward one another. Shortly before 11 a.m., individuals in the crowd began throwing objects and spraying chemical agents into the crowd. The city and county then made a declaration of “local emergency.” The crowd size became increasingly violent, with mutually engaged combatants, with one-on-one attacks following.
When a reporter asked: “Do you believe that one side was more responsible than the other for instigating the violence?" Thomas replied: “This was an alt-right rally.”
The reporter pressed further: “Do you believe that they're the ones who instigated the fighting?”
Thomas answered: “We did have mutually combating individuals in the crowd.”
It seems utterly ridiculous to have to say this, but the alt-right weren't the only violent individuals at the Saturday rally. However, suggestions to the contrary have been harshly condemned.
As The Daily Wire’s James Barrett reported, when New York Times reporter, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, tweeted that “the hard left seemed as hate-filled as alt-right. I saw club-wielding ‘antifa’ beating white nationalists being led out of the park,” she was strongly rebuked.
Stolberg backed off, correcting herself in a subsequent tweet: “Rethinking this. Should have said violent, not hate-filled. They were standing up to hate.” Still, this was not enough.
Those criticizing Stolberg are guilty of the “false dilemma” argumentative fallacy. In their binary thinking, because the alt-right is hateful and violent, any who oppose them must be loving and non-violent. Acknowledging the violent behavior of the leftist extremists somehow either nullifies one’s recognition of the violent behavior of the alt-right, including the terrorist actions of James Alex Fields Jr., or places it on an equal plane.
This, of course, is ludicrous. Human beings have the capacity to recognize and admonish different levels of brutality while understanding their ranking on the scale of grotesque behaviors. This is not a false equivalency; it’s an intellectually honest assessment.