The brutal events in Charlottesville not only reveal a national tragedy but also a national hypocrisy.
We do not have to agree with what the Nazis and white nationalists stand for to defend their constitutional right to assemble and speak. The courts have long ruled that even hate speech is protected speech.
Had there been no counter demonstration and media spotlight, a few hundred racists would have gathered in Charlottesville and had no impact on the national conversation.
Instead, they were met by the ongoing violence of the Antifa and the hate group Black Lives Matter and a police force that stood down, just as the campus police did when the Antifa attacked people at the University of California, Berkeley.
When James Alex Fields, a twenty-year-old from Ohio, used his car to maul people, he was immediately tagged as a white nationalist and the mainstream media quickly indicted all white nationalists for the vehicular assault.
Yet, when Muslims, who created the vehicular intifada, run down people, the same media immediately cautions us, as it should, not to indict all Muslims.
From what little we know about James Fields, he was allegedly infatuated with the Third Reich, and he was probably discharged from the Army because of mental illness. The two are not unrelated. American Vanguard claims he was never a member of its group.
If we should not indict all Muslims for the actions of the few and the deranged, should we indict all white nationalists for the actions of James Fields?
In the aftermath of Muslim-launched terrorism, the mainstream media expresses concern about a backlash that will harm innocent Muslims. Yet, no similar concern was voiced for the far-right demonstrators in Charlottesville that were not engaged in violence.
And as it is with every major news story, it soon became a story about President Trump, just as his tough words about North Korea overshadowed the actual threat from its dictator, Kim Jong Un, who appears to be a modern version of the psychopathic Joseph Stalin. President Trump was excoriated because he initially condemned all violence in Charlottesville and did not focus on the right.
MoveOn.org launched a petition calling on the president to condemn the far right, but not Black Lives Matter or the Antifa.
Violence from the right is bad, but violence from the left is acceptable?
It did not take long for President Trump to be blamed for the violence in Charlottesville. Yet, President Trump did not invite white nationalists to the White House and give them legitimacy as President Obama did with Black Lives Matter. President Obama’s equating attacks on the police with police brutality certainly provided a justification, if not a motivation, for these attacks.
No one in their right mind will blame the victims of Charlottesville for what happened to them, but in the aftermath of Islamist violence, it is quite common to blame the victims. In the aftermath of 9/11, far too many of my university colleagues blamed “our foreign policy.”
No responsible commentator will say that the manifestations of white hatred, as in the indoctrination of “white privilege,” so evident on our campuses and in our media, are the causes of death and injury at Charlottesville. To do so gives legitimacy, if not license, to violence. It would follow the left’s orientation of blaming the victim when it suits its agenda.
Charlottesville is a university town, and the University of Virginia, like most universities, is constantly looking for justifications for banning speech from the right. Invariably, it will focus on these events to ban the alt-right, but as we know all too well, the definition of alt-right will become more and more fluid and will be used to censor anyone that the campus left finds at variance with its ideology.
This hypocrisy characterizes the tragic events of Charlottesville.
Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati.