In the aftermath of Saturday’s Charlottesville, Virginia chaos — a physically violent conflict between disgusting white supremacist alt-right thugs and repulsive Antifa thugs, which culminated in a murderous attack by an apparent alt-righter on the Antifa crowd and other miscellaneous counter-protesters, resulting in the death of one person and injuries to another 19 — the hot takes have been coming fast and furious.
Here are some of the things you need to know about the awful events of yesterday.
1. The Alt-Right Is Not Conservative. One of the hottest takes from the Left is that the alt-right represents the entire right — that what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia represented conservatives broadly. That’s factually incorrect, and intellectually dishonest. The alt-right is not just conservatives who like memes or who dislike Paul Ryan. The alt-right is a philosophy of white supremacy and white nationalism espoused by the likes of Vox Day, Richard Spencer, and Jared Taylor.
Here’s Jared Taylor explaining the alt-right:
They openly acknowledge their antipathy for the Constitution and conservatism; they believe that strong centralized government is necessary to preserve “white civilization.” They label all their enemies “cucks” — men in favor of “race-mixing.” Here’s a solid guide to what the alt-right actually thinks.
2. The Alt-Right Has Successfully Created The Impression There Are Lots Of Them. There Aren’t. Thanks to the hard work of alt-right apologists like Milo Yiannopoulos, the widespread perception has been created that the alt-right is a movement on the rise, with a fast-increasing number of devotees. The media have glommed onto the alt-right in order to smear the entire conservative movement with it. The alt-right is quite active online — according to the Anti-Defamation League, I was their top journalistic target in 2016, and I received nearly 8,000 anti-Semitic tweets during the election cycle — but they aren’t particularly large. They fill up comments sections at sites like Breitbart, and they email spam, and they prank call people, and they live on 4chan boards, but the vast majority of alt-right anti-Semitic tweets came from just 1,600 accounts.
Thanks, however, to their online vociferousness, they convinced members of the Trump campaign, apparently including the president, that it was important not to knock them.
3. The Alt-Right Has Been Tut-Tutted By President Trump And His Advisors For Over A Year. Yesterday Was Nothing New. President Trump’s initial response to the attack in Charlottesville made no mention of the alt-right or white supremacy or even of racism. He simply stated, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides. It has been going on for a long time in our country — not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. It has been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America.” Trump, who has been fully willing to call out radical Islam, had nothing to say about the alt-right. Some Trump defenders point out that Barack Obama never condemned Black Lives Matter in the wake of riots and shootings of police officers, either. But Obama was wrong, and his wrongness is not an excuse for Trump to sit by and do nothing.
On Sunday morning, the White House used an unnamed spokesperson to release a statement:
Why didn’t Trump just come out himself and say the same? Because he tut-tutted the alt-right throughout his presidential campaign. He refused point-blank to condemn the KKK during an infamous exchange with CNN’s Jake Tapper in March 2016. He refused to condemn the alt-right targeting Jewish journalists like Julia Ioffe in May. His chief campaign strategist, Steve Bannon, was head of Breitbart when Yiannopoulos wrote his screed, and openly stated that the site had become “the platform for the alt-right.” Sadly, Trump has shown willingness to accept support from any source, no matter how despicable.
4. The Car Attack Was An Act of Terrorism. The alt-right piece of human debris James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Ohio, apparently deliberately drove his vehicle into counterprotesters and Antifa members. That’s an act of political violence no different from the car attacks of Nice, France or Jerusalem or London Bridge. That’s terror.
5. Trump’s Unwillingness To Fight The Alt-Right Tooth And Nail Grows The Alt-Right. President Trump’s milquetoast statement has emboldened members of the alt-right. Here’s the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer: “He outright refused to disavow. People saying he cucked are shills and kikes. He did the opposite of cuck. He refused to even mention anything to do with us. When reporters were screaming at him about White Nationalism he just walked out of the room.” That account may be unfair to Trump. But it’s what white nationalists are reading. They see Trump as a useful figure. David Duke said as much at the rally: “This represents a turning point for the people of this country. We are determined to take this country back. We’re gonna fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump because he said he’s going to take our country back.”
6. The Left’s Malfeasance And Support For Violent Groups Like Antifa Grow The Alt-Right. Antifa was violent in Charlottesville. That’s not according to me; that’s according to Sheryl Gay Stolberg of The New York Times, who tweeted thusly:
She was forced to backtrack and suggest that the Antifa thugs weren’t “hate-filled” after online blowback. But Antifa has trafficked in hate and violence for over a year now — we all remember how they’ve been assaulting people asserting their free speech rights in Berkeley, and how they have been engaged in street fights with alt-righters in places like Sacramento.
This isn’t “whataboutism.” Nothing justifies the alt-right’s racist perspective or murderous violence by an alt-righter. But it would be factually incorrect to ignore Antifa’s continuing role in the violent incidents that have now spread across the country. Because the Marxists in Antifa try to shut down free speech, they drive foolish people into the morally incorrect binary decision of supporting the alt-right, rather than loudly rejecting the ideology and violence of both sides.
7. The Media’s Broad Misusage Of The Term Alt-Right Grows The Alt-Right. Some members of the Leftist media have attempted to term large swaths of the right “alt-right” — just last week, some idiots in the media attempted to lump me in with the alt-right because I thought Google was wrong to fire James Damore. I am, for the record, perhaps the loudest voice against the alt-right in America, and I openly and repeatedly criticized Trump for failing to condemn the alt-right. For some evidence, see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. There’s a lot more where that came from. But the media seek to paint the entire right with the alt-right brush, even though the alt-right hates the Constitutional conservative right. That drives otherwise reasonable people into thinking that perhaps they are alt-right — and then they, in knee-jerk fashion, defend the actual alt-right because they’re confused about definitions. The Left needs to stop this nonsense immediately.
Charlottesville, Sacramento, Berkeley — we’re watching a microcosmic re-enactment of Weimar Republic brownshirt-vs.-reds violence in real-time, complete with the same flags being flown. Just as then, some leadership condemning the evil of alt-right white supremacy, the viciousness of hard-left Marxism, and the violence anyone commits in violation of basic rights should be unceasing and thunderous.
And so the problem is likely to metastasize.