Why Charlottesville Matters

Why Charlottesville Matters
Protesters clash with counter-protesters as they enter Emancipation Park during the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12, 2017. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Brian Giesbrecht

The clash at Charlottesville between right- and left-wing protesters three summers ago now looks rather tame compared to the left-wing violence that has been convulsing the streets since the death of George Floyd.

However, at the time it was a shock to the nation. Groups that are now very familiar to us, such as Antifa and Black Lives Matter (BLM) radicals, fought with an assortment of right-wing groups. One woman died when one of the right-wing extremists deliberately drove his car into a crowd of people. Two policemen surveilling the violence from the air died when their helicopter crashed.

When the Charlottesville violence occurred, radical left-wing groups such as Antifa and BLM were not well known to the American public. It was not then understood that Antifa and BLM radicals were determined anarchists and capable of ruthless violence. Having observed their tactics on the streets of cities such as Portland, Seattle, Kenosha, and Chicago, we know much more about them today.

Although we don’t yet know much about how they’re financed, we do know that there’s at least a loose form of organization involved in their use of street violence. It also appears that they move from city to city when the opportunity to cause mayhem presents itself. This is most evident recently in Kenosha, when gangs of Antifa and BLM radicals were dispersed to the city following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. The smashing of windows and the burning of vehicles and buildings appear to be their favorite tactics.

So, seen in the light of what we now know about the destructive intent and abilities of Antifa and BLM, what happened in Charlottesville three years ago makes more sense. Members of both groups clearly came to Charlottesville prepared to do battle with the assortment of neo-Nazi and other right-wing groups assembled there. All groups, left- and right-wing, were employing fascist tactics. Members of all groups participated in the violence. There were no “good guys.”

This is not to say that everyone in Charlottesville that day was a member of one of these violent groups. Many ordinary citizens were present. Some were there to show support to one cause or another. Some were just observers.

In any event, President Donald Trump took a lot of criticism over his remarks about the Charlottesville violence. He was accused of failing to single out the neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups as being the sole cause of the violence. Instead, he said that the left-wing groups as well as the right-wing groups were at fault. It’s abundantly clear now that what he said was absolutely correct. The Antifa and BLM radicals were, in fact, every bit as guilty as the torch-carrying right-wing radicals.

But President Trump was also taken to task for saying that there were “fine people” on both sides in Charlottesville that day. Critics insisted that Trump was calling neo-Nazis “fine people.”

It’s clear from an examination of the record that Trump was doing no such thing. Here’s what he actually said: “And you had people, and I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally.”
That’s what Trump said in response to the accusation that he was calling neo-Nazis and white nationalists “fine people.” He could not have been any more clear. If those words were not an explicit enough demonstration that the president condemned racism and white supremacist dogma, here’s what he said shortly after the now infamous Charlottesville rally:

“Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

In short, there are “thugs” on both extreme wings.

A ‘Racist’ President

But the media decided after Charlottesville that Trump was going to be labelled the “racist” president. From that point forward the blood libel “racist” was painted on Trump by the mainstream media, and by implication anyone who supported him. This was the point in history when any doubt that the mainstream news was “fake news” was erased forever. The false claim that Trump called racists and neo-Nazis “fine people” is now called “the Charlottesville hoax.”

And to their eternal shame, the Democrats latched on to the Charlottesville hoax—the “Trump is a racist” canard—and are now running hard on it.

That decision to slander Trump—and by implication the half of the population supporting him by implying that they’re supporting racism—will have profound implications long after the November election is history.

Remember Hillary Clinton’s decision during the 2016 election campaign to call the people who supported Trump “deplorables”? That’s minor compared to calling anyone who plans to vote Republican “racist.”

The Democrats’ decision to go with the “racist” libel is clearly a central plank in their campaign. In fact, Joe Biden insists that it was President Trump’s remarks following the Charlottesville violence that made him decide to run for president. Biden claims that he became convinced that day that the president was a “racist.”

Biden regularly uses the Charlottesville hoax in his speeches. Despite the fact they’re fully aware the claim is false, he and other Democrat politicians make liberal use of the slur on a daily basis. Biden even used it in his introduction of Kamala Harris as his vice president. And Harris doubled down on it. Both Biden and Harris are lying. Worse than that, they’re lying to stir up racial division.

When confronted with the fact that their claim Trump called neo-Nazis “fine people” is simply not true, they insist it is by arguing, implausibly, that every single person at that large Charlottesville gathering who was not supporting the Antifa or BLM position was a right-wing extremist.

Many of us know people who witnessed that rally who were not in fact on either side. As previously stated, many from the area and not connected to any radical group were there as casual observers, or for reasons having nothing to do with support for either Antifa or neo-Nazis. That’s the case at any large public event.

In short, the claim that there were no “fine people” in Charlottesville witnessing the rally is ludicrous.

The Big Lie

The Charlottesville hoax has become “the big lie” that the Democrats will use in order to gain power. It’s not the only hoax that they use. For instance, the preposterous falsehood that President Trump was urging people to drink disinfectant to combat COVID-19 is still being touted. And more recently, the equally preposterous falsehood that President Trump disparaged the nation’s fallen soldiers was being shamelessly spread by the once respectable The Atlantic magazine.

Some people will actually believe these hoaxes. But the Charlottesville hoax is the Democrats’ central lie, and they’re pushing it for all it’s worth.

They do so because the “Trump is a racist” canard is a vital component in their decision to use “race” to regain power. Race-baiting has not been used in such a blatantly irresponsible way since the Civil War days. The violence playing out on the streets is testament to their strategy. It also provokes discussion of a new civil war.

How the Democrats’ decision to play the race card in this dangerous way will work out for them in November is not clear.

However, it’s already becoming clear that their reckless decision has probably set back race relations for decades. The Charlottesville hoax might indeed damage Trump, but that’s nothing compared to the damage that such race-baiting has already done to the country. People deeply resent being falsely accused of racism.

And there are indeed “fine people” in Charlottesville. No, not the Antifa or BLM radicals or the neo-Nazis. But the ordinary people. As is the case in the rest of America, the ordinary people are not racists, and they don’t deserve to be labelled as such. They don’t deserve to be screamed at, or prevented from walking down the street unmolested. In fact the media’s race obsession is not even very relevant to their everyday lives. The fact is that America has never been as non-racist as it is today. Americans are decent people who just want to live their lives in a peaceful country.

Donald Trump is not a racist either, and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris know it. The game Biden and Harris are playing is just as cynical as the game Antifa and BLM are playing. The Democrats have allied themselves with violent radicals and race provocateurs.

In doing so they have made a grievous error.

Brian Giesbrecht is a retired judge and a senior fellow with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.
Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.