When pundits rail against the “alt-left”; or melt down over “campus inquisitions” by supposedly fanatical social justice warriors; or when our paper of record explicitly equates fascists with the anti-fascists who turn up to oppose them, those they are attacking are the kinds of people who showed up in Charlottesville and at the University of Virginia, and got in the face of the Nazis and Klansmen and white power trash rampaging through an American city. They were the ones surrounded by torch-wielding mobs, and—in one horrible instance—killed.
The opening line from the New York Times article I linked to above, about anti-fascists and fascists facing off in Berkeley, reads, “Last semester’s protests at the University of California, Berkeley, challenged liberal presumptions about who exactly the good guys were.” Hmmm.
The city of Charlottesville was engulfed by violence on Saturday as white nationalists and counterprotesters clashed in one of the bloodiest fights to date over the removal of Confederate monuments across the South.
Remember, a person on one side of this fight was, by all appearances, killed in cold blood. It takes skill to transform a story about racists killing anti-racists into a story about racists and anti-racists fighting each other. But that is the Times for you. For good measure, the paper also found space on Sunday for an op-ed about Charlottesville from Erick Erickson, who used it to declare, “As a conservative, I see both the social justice warrior alt-left and the white supremacist alt-right as two sides of the same coin.”
To take a leaf out of our president’s book, you might say the Times keeps finding “many sides” to a story that is, at its core, about just one thing: whether you are for white supremacy, or Nazism, or against it.
We know where Trump stands on the matter. White supremacy is so important to him—so central to his political mission—that he refused to openly attack Nazis and Klansmen tearing through Charlottesville even after they killed someone. His “many sides” comment was revolting, and it was predictable, but it was also a lie. He picked which side he was on long ago.
One of the anti-racist, anti-fascist protesters in Charlottesville, a 32-year-old woman named Heather Heyer, died after someone—allegedly a man named James Alex Fields, Jr.—plowed a car into a crowd. It’s not inaccurate to say she now joins the list of people who were martyred fighting against white supremacy in America. She also picked a side.
So which side will the liberal class—the journalists, the politicians, the sorts of people on Twitter who chose yesterday to smear “radical leftists”—pick? Because something like Charlottesville demands that you pick a side. You don’t have to love everything your side does, but you have to choose. Are you on the side of the kind of people who are fighting Nazis and Klansmen—one of whom gave her life yesterday to the cause of defeating them—even if they sometimes make mistakes? Or are you on the side of white supremacist murderers? Pick one.