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The Right Unites in Charlottesville

Trump supporters from across the nation gathered in droves this weekend to participate to celebrate our President’s “America First” platform. The rally was held in Charlottesville to protest the recent renaming of Robert E. Lee Park to Emancipation field by the Charlottesville City Council. Ironically, these people believe protecting the honor and legacy of one of America’s most infamous traitors is essential to American patriotism, but minutiae such as this will not deter American conservatives and their mission to safeguard white privilege in the United States. Ongoing litigation also seeks to remove statues erected in the early 20th century to honor General Lee and his treasonous bretheren.

Liberals across the country were shocked and dismayed at the sight of torch wielding men chanting slogans not heard in 80 years. Evoking the Nuremburg rallies featured in The Triumph of the Will, White supremacists declared open war against the liberal democratic order that has kept America safe and prosperous for 240 years.

Obstentably, this is supposed to be a mirror image of the identity politics expressed by people of color of the past few decades. After all, if Black people or Latinos are allowed to organize around their shared values and interests, why not White people? Or so the logic goes. Unfortunately, an earnest application of colorblindness is woefully naive. The historical context of centuries of brutal oppression inflicted on nonwhites makes symmetrical treatment of White identity politics and nonwhite identity politics impossible. The latter may be mildly problematic, but the former is a dire and hostile threat to the republic itself.

Given this asymmetry, it is not a surprise that we hold people to different standards of behavior. While the ends do not justify the means, we do judge people by both the ends they hope to implement and the means by which they do it. So, while violence may be present in both the conservatives rallying in Charlottesville and the leftists who oppose them, it is far easier to excuse violence committed to protecting individual rights and liberties than it is to excuse violence committed by those seeking to take those rights and liberties away.

Absolute pacifists such as Mohandas Gandhi may have condemned the violent effort to defeat Nazism 70 years ago, but people actually committed to such causes are few and far between. Today, many Republicans and conservatives seem very confused. For a very long time, they have rejected the mantle of pacifism. War and violence have been advocated as solutions to a great many problems from crime to terrorism by these people. Recent attempts to equivocate and condemn violence on both sides may make sense coming from the mouth of a true conscientious objector, but it comes across as insincere to the rational observer. More uncharitably, it can be interpreted as tacit endorsement for the party with both condemnable means and condemnable ends when they are lumped in the same bucket as people with honorable ends.

For further discussion of these issues, I suggest reading Conor Friedersdorf's excellent reporting for The Atlantic. True to their proclivity for binary thinking, the Right's current gambit is to create a false dichotomy to trip up their opponents. Either a group is purely virtuous in both means & ends or it is equally condemnable, leaving no room for nuance. We must thoroughly reject this sophistry. One need not be as clean and pure as wind driven snow in order to claim the moral high ground. Antifascists punching a deplorable man in the face, as bad as it might be, is no justification for murder.

The opponents of fascism are a large and diverse group with only a few resorting to unsavory extralegal violence. Most of the counter-protesters that day, such as Heather Heyer, had the right means AND the right ends. This cannot be said for the deplorable people rallying in support of Robert E. Lee's statue. Every single one of the is despicable and ought to be condemned in the strongest possible terms. These people are bad not only because one of their own killed an innocent woman but also because of the ideas for which they stand. This country has a longstanding commitment to free speech, even hate speech is protected by our laws. But that doesn't obligate us to endorse everything that is said. Every decent patriotic American ought to be committed to making embracing the rally goers in Charlottesville as taboo as embracing the Jihadists in Raqqa. Too bad this is something that is too hard for our President and his most die hard supporters to understand.

Posted by Warren Porter at August 13, 2017 6:25 PM
Comments
Comment #419755

Your references are too conservative, which I guess explains your viewpoint on many things. I generally find The Atlantic difficult to read because of that. It isn’t necessary to explain the viewpoints.

“We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the scriptures and as clear as the American Constitution.”

The right wing lunatics are doing a good job of activating their opposition.

Posted by: ohrealy at September 9, 2017 3:27 PM
Comment #419765

Conor Friedersdorf got his start assisting Andrew Sullivan, so in that sense he might be conservative, but it’s really beside the point unless you have an actual criticism or refutation of what either he or I have written.


We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the scriptures and as clear as the American Constitution.

It’s interesting that you bring that up as JFK was not the most enthusiastic advocate for civil rights.

Posted by: Warren Porter at September 10, 2017 9:54 PM
Comment #419767

You interrupted my viewing the top ten singers of Coldplay’s The Scientist for that? What a confused view of history. History happened in chronological order, not backwards from now to the past. I completely agree with JFK’s viewpoint at that time. Regardless of later sanctification, MLK was more interested in publicity than actual results. We found that out quite easily in Chicago, where the first mayor Daley thwarted his efforts by agreeing to do everything required to redress grievances with black political leaders much more established than MLK, who was out of his depth in the world of real politics, where things actually get done. This kind of revisionist history by younger people is pointless. JFK was concerned about the victims, and that’s a fault somehow? GMAFB! Concern for the victims is what brought about the current attempts to put the monuments to racism in museums next to T-Rex and everything else that was part of the past, but not the future.

Posted by: ohrealy at September 10, 2017 11:05 PM
Comment #419776

I was referring more to JFK’s milquetoast attitude towards civil rights in the first 6 months of his Presidency. He got to the right place eventually, but only after much heel dragging.

I’m not going to say anything was JFK’s ‘fault’. He was a part of system and that system had supported white supremacy for centuries. I do not fault those too cowardly to bite the mouth that feeds them.

Posted by: Warren Porter at September 11, 2017 5:28 PM
Comment #419778

I was referring more to JFK’s milquetoast attitude towards civil rights in the first 6 months of his Presidency. He got to the right place eventually, but only after much heel dragging.

I’m not going to say anything was JFK’s ‘fault’. He was a part of system and that system had supported white supremacy for centuries. I do not fault those too cowardly to bite the mouth that feeds them.

Posted by: Warren Porter at September 11, 2017 7:12 PM
Comment #419782

JFK was much closer to immigrant ancestors and accepted the views of people that he probably thought knew much more about the composition of the country outside of his compound.

The main civil rights issue then was the same as now, treating classes of persons differently based on some cause that is not of their own making. Privileged law breakers look on as the non-privileged are arrested on charges specifically designed to keep them in their place. Guilty until proven innocent for them, innocent until proven guilty for us.

I tried reading the article on Baby Nazis in the National Review, which sounded like it might be good, but I found it unreadable. The communication skills of the right wing are not what they once were.

I’ve got two New Yorkers, a Mother Jones, and two books to get through before I can start on What Happened, the indictment of Warren Porter for misogyny.

SITE NOT WORKING WELL AGAIN.

Posted by: ohrealy at September 11, 2017 10:11 PM
Comment #419790

ohrealy,

You might want to add Ta-Nehisi Coates’ recent essay to your reading list.

treating classes of persons differently based on some cause that is not of their own making.

Duh, the very premise of conservatism isn’t limited government, but rather the preservation of existing privileges and power hierarchies. It’s why conservative tories stayed loyal to King George III and Parliament 240 years ago. It’s why conservative Democrats rebelled against the union 150 years ago in defense of slavery. And, it’s why conservatives continue to look the other way as grave injustice is perpetrated upon innocent Americans. The conservative mind shallowly interprets the world as a zero-sum game. To the conservative, whatever gains earned by the hard work of others appear to come at his own expense. Thus, he works tirelessly to erect and preserve these barriers.

Posted by: Warren Porter at September 12, 2017 5:20 AM
Comment #419791
You might want to add Ta-Nehisi Coates’ recent essay to your reading list.

Good writing if a bit heavy for this early in the morning.

Conservatives here were even defending Benedict Arnold a while back. British pundits used to describe their own aristocracy as the descendants of land thieves (the anglo-irish), cattle rustlers (the Scots), and court prostitutes (the english).

Here in Illinois JFK’s nephew Chris may be running for governor next year. Oddly, people that voted for the Orcish one also like Chris. I met him in Glencoe when his daughters were attending school in Winnetka. They looked like poster children from an Irish tourism brochure. Our current rpblcn governor “lives” in Winnetka, among other places. We have our own aristocracy, but they’re not all bad.

Posted by: ohrealy at September 12, 2017 7:57 AM
Comment #419792
You might want to add Ta-Nehisi Coates’ recent essay to your reading list.

Good writing if a bit heavy for this early in the morning.

Conservatives here were even defending Benedict Arnold a while back. British pundits used to describe their own aristocracy as the descendants of land thieves (the anglo-irish), cattle rustlers (the Scots), and court prostitutes (the english).

Here in Illinois JFK’s nephew Chris may be running for governor next year. Oddly, people that voted for the Orcish one also like Chris. I met him in Glencoe when his daughters were attending school in Winnetka. They looked like poster children from an Irish tourism brochure. Our current rpblcn governor “lives” in Winnetka, among other places. We have our own aristocracy, but they’re not all bad.

502 BAD GATEWAY

Posted by: ohrealy at September 12, 2017 7:58 AM
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