Charlottesville 3

Just an update: The driver of the car that plowed into the anti-racist protestors in Charlottesville, killing one woman and injuring 19 other people, driver James Fields, Jr., has been identified as one of the white supremacist demonstrators. I suspected as much. The Daily News has a photograph of him brandishing a “Vanguard America” shield before the terrorist incident. As the paper notes,

Southern Poverty Law Center spokeswoman Rebecca Sturtevant told the News that the logo — two white axes — is a variation of imagery used by the white supremacists and Fields’ outfit is standard among the hate group’s ranks.

The Anti-Defamation League depicted Vanguard American [sic] as one focused on white identity, but noted that its members have “increasingly demonstrated a neo-Nazi ideology.”

Indeed, Fields’ Facebook page was peppered with similar alt-right and Nazi imagery — such as Hitler’s baby photo; a tourist shot of the Reichstag in Berlin; and a cartoon of Pepe the Frog, the anthropomorphic frog hijacked by right-wing groups — before it was deactivated around 11:30 p.m. Saturday.

Fields, of Maumee, Ohio, gave the page the title “Conscious Ovis Aries,” using the Latin word for sheep. There was also a picture of him posing with the car that authorities say caused so much mayhem in downtown Charlottesville.

The photo with the Daily News‘s caption:

James Alex Fields Jr. (c.) brandished a shield from the Vanguard America group before the Charlottesville attack. (GO NAKAMURA/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

His mug shot:

And, of course, the white supremacists and anti-Semites are praising Trump for his “it’s everybody’s fault” reaction, and his continuing failure to decry the bigotry that infused the Extreme Right’s demonstration:

Who was responsible for the violence? Clearly Fields appears to be guilty of murder (he’s assumed innocent until convicted), but both Left and Right came to the demonstration spoiling for a fight. The white supremacists, however, had their own militia with assault rifles, which, thank Ceiling Cat, were never used. But according to the evening news last night, Leftist protestors also came with sticks, Mace, and other weapons, and after they were separated from the white supremacists, tried to find a way around the police cordons to go after their opponents.  While I doubt that the number of attacks were exactly equal on both sides, clearly the Left—at least those who wanted violence or to “shut down” the supremacists, did engage in violence. Here, from Mediaite, is a video of a “counterprotestor” attacking a woman reporter for The Hill who was simply documenting the car crash. Yes, he punched someone, but it wasn’t a Nazi.

From Mediaite:

One of the four men arrested for the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia was reportedly a counter-protestor who punched a female reporter.

Virginia State Police announced last night that 21-year-old Jacob L. Smith of Louisa, Virginia was charged with misdemeanor assault & battery. And now it is known what led to his arrest.

The Hill reporter Taylor Lorenz was live-streaming the counter-protest on her phone when James Alex Fields Jr. drove his car into the crowd, that left one dead and 19 injured. While capturing the immediate aftermath of the attack, where she stood only several feet away, Smith approached Lorenz, punched her in the face, and shouted “Stop the f**king recording!” The shirtless counter-protestor can be seen walking into the shot just seconds before the phone was knocked out of her hand.

Left-wing violence will only hurt progressivism and help these racist goons.  Nobody should go to a demonstration with a weapon, or with the desire to punch anyone or “shut down” a demonstration. We have recourse to peaceful protest and counterspeech, and that’s the moral high ground. I reject those who call for punching white supremacists, or even getting them fired by reporting them to employers. After all, even if this speech is reprehensible, it’s free speech and legal under the Constitution. Are we going to try to get every racist fired from their jobs? That is thought policing.

I was surprised to find several readers yesterday saying that the speech of the white supremacist/Nazi sympathizers/nativists should be banned, as some countries do.  If you believe that, then you have to decide which speech constitutes hate speech and should be banned. If there’s a slippery slope, that is one of them.

As John Stuart Mill argued eloquently in On Liberty, there’s a good case to be made for allowing even vile speech to be promulgated, for banning it only drives it underground, while allowing it gives those who hear it a chance to understand it and formulate a response to the other side’s arguments. There’s a reason why, in 1977, the American Civil Liberties Union defended the right of the American Nazi Party to march in Skokie, Illinois, a Jewish community. The case went to the United States Supreme Court, which ruled, along with the Illinois Supreme Court, that the Nazis’ display of hatred, including the swastika flag, did not constitute “fighting words”—a prohibited direct incitement of violence. The same is true of the demonstrators in Charlottesville, who basically did the same thing as the Nazis in Skokie.

In truth, I think the best response of the Left would have been to ignore the demonstrators completely. They represent only a small fraction of Americans, are widely reviled, and the counterdemonstrations gave the bigots the publicity they wanted. (Of course the media was there, but I’m not at all sure that an absence of counterdemonstrations would have been a bad thing.) And it would have helped curb the violence.

That violence was also partly due to the Charlottesville Police’s policy of allowing demonstrators to come close to each other, almost guaranteeing a nasty confrontation. Perhaps, after the model of demonstrations at political conventions, the demonstrators should be confined to a well demarcated space well apart from those they are protesting. The advantage of this is that it prevents violence but still allows the media to cover the counter-demonstrations, so the opposing speech does get publicized. The disadvantage is that the demonstrators never see those who oppose them. I think the former trumps the latter, and in future cases—and there will be more—the police need to keep the bigots and the progressives far apart, with no chance to attack each other.

At any rate, now is not the time—in fact it’s never the time—for the Left to start talking about curbing speech or physically hurting those we revile. It’s telling that when the true test of our tolerance for free speech appears—the presence of white supremacists and Nazi sympathizers—many on the Left seem to fold and ask whether we might, after all, consider some censorship. That’s a violation of everything that liberals have stood for, and of course comes with the problems of designating who’s to be The Decider and what, exactly, constitutes “hate speech.” Let’s avoid that debate and stick with the courts’ consistent interpretation of what speech is allowed and what speech constitutes harassment or direct incitement to violence.

From the New York Times, here’s a memorial to 32-year-old Heather Heyer, whom Fields murdered, and the other 19 victims of the car attack:

Edu Bayer for The New York Times

h/t: Grania


  1. GBJames
    Posted August 14, 2017 at 8:40 am | Permalink


  2. Posted August 14, 2017 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    It seems clear that the far right feels emboldened in the current political climate – and not just in the US. The best way to counter this must surely be to change that political climate and I’m not convinced that confrontations on the street are the best way to do this. (I think if anything they do the opposite, by reinforcing the factionalism.) So I’d agree with Jerry that ignoring this kind of White Supremacist march might be a better idea – or perhaps organising a rival event with a different agenda and a different location. However, I know that advocates of the counter-demonstrations would argue that fascism will continue to rise if nobody stands up to it. I have some sympathy with this view too, though on balance I don’t agree with it.

    • Posted August 14, 2017 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      Well, engaging in street fights with nazis worked in Weimar Germany, so why not try it here & now?

  3. Stephen Knoll
    Posted August 14, 2017 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    mostly agree with your post, except for the ignoring part: that’s what happened in Weimar Germany from which my father was a refugee: they must be confronted

    BTW, among those I got into an argument with was a small group (the only one I saw) of anti-fascists who were “guarding” the Black Lives Matter demonstration, who were armed with semi-automatic weapons & who tried (unsuccessfully) to get me to move on & not photograph them

    that said, the Nazis were there in full force & armed to the teeth doing “combat patrols” thru the crowd of spectators & anti-fascists: I saw at least a half dozen of these groups, trigger fingers at the ready & I’m certain there were more

    as far as I’m concerned brandishing assault weapons in public is in itself, an act of terrorism

    it’s amazing that a firefight did not break out that would have made the murder by car episode seem trivial

    • Posted August 14, 2017 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      I’m not sure the analogy with Weimar Germany is useful though. The Nazis had very broad popular support. They did not come to power because people who disagreed failed to confront them. So I doubt you can deduce that ignoring White Supremacist marches in the US would result in an increase in far right support. I mean, I can’t say for sure that it wouldn’t – I’m just saying the Weimar analogy alone doesn’t prove much, in my opinion.

      • Randy schenck
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:05 am | Permalink

        Back in the early 1940s, a guy named Charles Lindbergh gave a speech at an America First society or organization and said it was Britain and the Jews and Roosevelt who wanted to get us in the war. At the time, Lindbergh had been the most famous and liked person in America. After that, he was toast. The vast majority of people in this country did not like that stuff even back then. It is not going to change today, with or without Trump.

      • Posted August 14, 2017 at 11:55 am | Permalink

        If by “broad popular support” you mean an high of 32% of the vote, then yeah.

        Now, Trump got 46%, but much of that was simply a protest gesture. Nor is Trump really head of a political party, much less one with a cohesive ideology.

        Most importantly, the violent response by the radical left in Weimar Germany only helped legitimize the Nazis.

        We must do is what they failed to do in Weimar — the sane, peaceful majority of the middle must stand together against violent, revolutionary extremists of both left and right.

    • jwthomas
      Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      Carrying and displaying a gun is legal in Virginia
      thanks to the State Legislature and the NRA.
      The police could not act just because of the display
      of firearms and when they finally did act it was too late to prevent bloodshed. The only people who get shot while openly carrying guns in open carry states are black males 12 yrs old and up.

      • Randy schenck
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:50 am | Permalink

        You are conflating one right with another that does not exist. The right to bear arms or conceal carry does not give you the right to bring your weapons to an approved demonstration if the permit allowing the demonstration says NO WEAPONS.

        • Posted August 14, 2017 at 11:56 am | Permalink

          Agreed. Yet many antifa were also armed and armored.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

          the permit allowing the demonstration says NO WEAPONS.

          (1) did the permit for this demonstration say that? (I don’t know – not my country.)
          And the obvious corollary (2) under what circumstances do state (county, city, parish, nation) demonstration permitters issue permits that say “WEAPONS PERMITTED”. Or even “WEAPONS COMPULSORY”?

        • jwthomas
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

          Therefore, everyone displaying weapons should have been arrested. But the governor says the police did a great job.

          • jwthomas
            Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

            And then there’s this:

            • tomh
              Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

              What makes anyone think that the permit precluded weapons being carried? It’s doubtful that would override state law anyway.

    • Kevin
      Posted August 14, 2017 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      Confronting with intent to do violence is never the answer. Furthermore, the majority of Americans want nothing to do with White Supremecists.

      Their rise is a bad thing for Trump. He needs their support. He needs their bark, but not bite. If the supremacists continue past peaceful rallying, they will embarrass Trump.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

        they will embarrass Trump.

        Is that physically possible?

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

          Trump is easily humiliated, but incapable of embarrassment or shame.

  4. Randy schenck
    Posted August 14, 2017 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    I am as free speech as anyone so that is simply all there is to say about that. However, concerning the demonstrations in the cities, this should be carefully control if allowed at all. Bringing your weapons to a fake demonstration is absurd. I would refer to a like demonstration of sorts in Seattle yesterday. Apparently there was a smaller number of these white nationalist gathered in a small area and there was a much larger gathering of anti Nazi, nationalist demonstrators all armed and trying very hard to get to the other side to beat hell out of them. This is not free speech or anything close. These type gathering should not be allowed and when they are, the results are easy to predict. That so-called demonstration in Charlotte should never have happened or been allowed.

    • Craw
      Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      If you say these gatherings should not be allowed you are nor “as free speech as anyone”. You’re really no free speech, or free assembly, at all IMO.

      Greenwald has a good pieces.

      Thinkcarefully before deciding you want to erode the first amendment in the age of Trump, with one party controlling congress and most governorships.

      • Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:04 am | Permalink

        Yes, I’ve read the Greenwald piece, and I have to say that I agree with him, which is rare! I’m going to write about it today (I hope)

        • Craw
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:12 am | Permalink

          I must say GG is one of the few guys I think a lot more of now than before the election. I often disagree with him too, but he has been a model of intellectual honesty and of care and diligence in reporting.

      • Randy schenck
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:27 am | Permalink

        You do not understand what I am saying because you would rather hear what you want to hear. I am perfectly fine with any group getting the permission to hold their demonstration or rally or whatever they want to call it. However, if they show up with any weapons, end of event. Is that too hard to understand?

        There was unlimited press and discussion many years ago at the Kent State event and it was a real tragedy. But just one thing cause the results at Kent state and any third rate riot control authority would know this. That one thing was an ignorant commander who allowed his guard people to put bullets in their guns.

        • Craw
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:45 am | Permalink

          I did hear this “concerning the demonstrations in the cities, this should be carefully control[led] if allowed at all.” No caveat there. And your (now asserted) caveat makes no difference, since your idea would allow you you to silence my speech is someone else did something you object to. Something legal by the way.

          • Randy schenck
            Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:55 am | Permalink

            I am only attempting to describe for you the difference between a mob and a demonstration. However, if you would think that your right to free speech includes the right to maim and kill each other at these events, please go. I would advise against it.

        • eric
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 11:19 am | Permalink

          I am perfectly fine with any group getting the permission to hold their demonstration or rally or whatever they want to call it. However, if they show up with any weapons, end of event. Is that too hard to understand?

          If that’s all you’re arguing, I am somewhat in agreement. “Marching to air views” is free speech. “Marching to air views…with weapons” seems to me like a manner of speech and thus open to some minimal, reasonable regulation.

          However I agree with Craw that your original post didn’t clearly make that point. I also interpreted your “that type of demonstration should not be allowed” to be referring to white supremacist demonstrations, not armed demonstrations.

          And yes IMO the Charlotte protest against the removal of the statue should be allowed. Arguing “not with guns in hand” is not the same as “not with that message.”

          • Randy schenck
            Posted August 14, 2017 at 11:54 am | Permalink

            That type of demonstration, the one in Virginia, included all types of Weapons as the boys marched in. So how much clearer should I be. Come with weapons and the show is over. Believe it or not, the Mayor and the Governor have a more important obligation than looking after everyone’s rights and that is to enforce the laws and protect the citizens in their region of responsibility. It is very easy for a group of folks to sit behind their computer screens and proclaim free speech for all and in all conditions. You forget what is worth protecting and your priorities all all wrong.

            Look at the films again of this little free speech even in Virginia. Count the number of injured and dead. What a great example of our free speech in America. So lucky we had it on this day.

        • Posted August 14, 2017 at 11:59 am | Permalink

          If I understand correctly, the counter-protesters pulled no demonstration permits, yet were allowed to assemble & march unhindered.

          • tomh
            Posted August 14, 2017 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

            They were attending the same demonstration. Why would they need a separate permit?

            • Posted August 15, 2017 at 8:41 am | Permalink

              The permitted demonstration took place in a park. Antifa spontaneously marched through the streets, as well as stationing themselves outside the designated demonstration area, prepared to attack the demonstrators as they left.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted August 14, 2017 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

            Whence comes your understanding?

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

          However, if they show up with any weapons, end of event. Is that too hard to understand?

          Effectively unenforceable. Every time you (the riot-control officer, whatever name you give to the job) point to a person in the demonstration with a bazooka over one shoulder and a flamethrower over the over, the disposable talking body from the “demonstration management” will either deny that the person in question is an “official” part of the demonstration. Or tie you (riot control) and the single demonstrator up in bullshit red tape, preventing you (riot control) from inspecting or controlling any other square metre of the demonstration.

  5. Jenny Haniver
    Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    I have heard on very good authority, but at this time cannot provide any news links to verify, that the same group that applied for the permit to hold the demonstration in Charlottesville is seeking a permit for a rally at Crissy Field in San Francisco. If this is true and they receive the permit, one can only wait with bated breath to see what happens.

    • tomh
      Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      California gun control laws are far more restrictive than Virginia. If a permit such as you describe is granted, however, the laws will be difficult to enforce.

      • tomh
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:16 am | Permalink


        • tomh
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:41 am | Permalink


      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 11:01 am | Permalink

        Those would be the gun control laws Gov. Ronald Reagan pushed through the state assembly after he found out the Panthers were armed?

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted August 14, 2017 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      I read now in the news that white supremacists (think Richard Spencer)are planning rallies at Texas A%M and the University of Florida in September:

      • Randy schenck
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

        And how much money will the college and or local community spend to ensure everyone is safe for these events. I would have no problem calling them off due to lack of funds to protect the public. Free speech priority comes in second, as it should. Or, require Spencer to put up a good part of the funds required for protection.

  6. DW
    Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    There were two “events” this past weekend. On Friday night, you had the racist scum marching with their Wal Mart Tiki Torches looking like the peasants storming Frankenstein’s castle. They marched in formation, they chanted, they wept over the statue of a dirty traitor being torn down, and they went home. The only crimes committed were against fashion and the only thing butchered was the English language. On the plus side, we all got to laugh at these dickheads and some great new tiki torch related memes.

    On Saturday, you had not only the dickheads marching, but also Antifa. What did we get? Violence and death.

    We saw the same thing at the Berkeley Free Speech Rally. In the beginning, the rally was fine and peaceful. It wasn’t until Antifa showed up and the Police vanished that violence ensued.

    The two sides have to be kept apart.

    Though, in all fairness, and I hate to say it, when Antifa marches on their own, violence also ensues. When the alt-right marches, they just look dumb. When Antifa marches, they leave behind fires, broken windows, looted shops, and innocents beaten. We see case after case of Antifa going to right-wing rallies specifically to start violence. So far, we haven’t seen the opposite. We didn’t see the alt-right show up to Bernie Sanders rallies to assault people. Though I’m really worried that’s next. Antifa is creating the monster it claims to fight.

    • Posted August 14, 2017 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      Antifa is filled with communists and anarchists and hand jazz occupy types, who would like nothing more than to bring the whole of our civil society crashing down. No different than the whack jobs they are fighting, other than on the form of dystopia they’d erect on the rubble.

  7. eric
    Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Punching the reporter was wrong. Excoriating her for standing there holding her cell phone when any decent person should’ve been helping the guy hit by a car is IMO perfectly okay.

    Look, you aren’t watching lions and antelope in Africa. These are people. When someone is injured right in front of you and needs help, put down your frakking cell phone and help. Or use it to call 911 instead of just taking pictures/video of it.

    It reminds me of that horrible incident a few years back where a professor collapsed during a lecture and all the students raced to see who could post pictures of it to Facebook first. Instead of, you know, using their phones to call the paramedics. I’m going to old fogie myself and say some kids these days need remedial training in basic ethics. Obsession with cell phones and social media seem to have shorted out people’s basic understanding of decent behavior around an accident/bad event.

    • darrelle
      Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      I understand you and agree with you in general. But in this specific case there were more than enough people already helping. Unless the reporter had specific skills such as significant medical training, her help wasn’t needed and she would just as likely have been in the way if she had tried to help.

      Also, there is a value in documenting events such as this.

      • eric
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:42 am | Permalink

        Another observation supportive of your point is that the puncher didn’t seem really interested in getting her to help; he was just mad she was filming.

        Still, I don’t think all of that really excuses her. Not a paramedic or trained? I get that, but the ethical thing is still to help as best you can, not stand there. You can still alert others. Try to push the crowd back. Or even just comfort the injured person. You’re filming the event so people can see what’s happening? I get that too – and it’s still not an excuse for not helping. Consider the potential outcomes: would you rather have a full and complete recording of the guy dying, or an incomplete recording of him living? Prioritize the second goal/outcome over the first.

        • Paul S
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 11:55 am | Permalink

          I could almost agree, but that is what reporters do. Witness and report, do not get involved.

        • Diane G.
          Posted August 15, 2017 at 2:21 am | Permalink

          But it’s also true that sometimes amateur video recordings capture scenes that turn out to be vital to reconstructing criminal activity or establishing identities of relevant participants. Nowadays I think it’s important to have both–those who help the wounded/abused and, when there are enough already doing so, those who document the scene. The more videographers the greater the chance that some important moment will be captured.

    • Posted August 14, 2017 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      Why wasn’t the puncher helping???

      • eric
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 11:09 am | Permalink

        Yes he should have been too!

    • Posted August 14, 2017 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      Antifa are very touchy about captured on video, and this is not the first person filming them who’s been slugged.

  8. busterggi
    Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    I’ve worked with gen-u-ine 1930’s Nazis and resurgent 1970’s Klansmen – if they aren’t met with violence they will run right over you.

  9. Rita
    Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    How do you know Jacob L. Smith was a counter-protestor?

  10. Steve
    Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    A small thing: Those aren’t axes on the shields those freaks a carrying, but “fascia”
    (sing. fascis ) which were originally used by Mussolini and crew back in the 1920’s as the symbol of their party. Hence “fascism”

    • Craw
      Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      Indeed. And idiot Fields even has his upside down.

    • eric
      Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      They look like rolling pins to me (though yes I see the axe blade thingy).

    • Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      Like most depictions of fasces, those on the shield have axes in them.

      • Craw
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:57 am | Permalink

        Well, yes, that’s because that’s what they are. They are a symbol from the Roman republic. They were carried by lictors — the axe in the bundle of sticks. They symbolized “stronger together”.

        • Darrin Carter
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

          They were generally displayed/peraded before the magistrates, Consul, Pretor, etc. They symbolised the power of the positions to enforce the laws, the rods for corporal punishment the axe for execution.

  11. Historian
    Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    What is the best way to counter the growth of fascist groups in the United States? I think there needs to be short term and long term strategies. In the short term, I would like to see massive peaceful counter protests at fascist rallies. The media will cover these rallies with perhaps the hope of some violence, which would jack up the ratings. Peaceful counter protests will demonstrate that the ranting of the fascists do not go unchallenged and that the fascists would be the instigators of any violence. It is important that the counter protestors isolate any in their ranks tempted to resort to violence. The fascists would love to be the recipients of violence, thus enabling them to claim to be the victims. Violence against them would be a great recruiting tool for them.

    The long term strategy should be one that results in fascist movements withering away to total insignificance. They will never totally disappear. These groups seem to be largely composed of young poorly educated, unemployed or underemployed white men. They look for scapegoats – minorities and Jews. This is hardly a new phenomenon. One only needs to look at the rise of the Nazis. Their anger is fueled when they are accused of being the beneficiaries of “white privilege.” In a rational world minorities and economically distressed whites would unite against the source of their mutual woes – the ruling economic elite. In reality, the disaffected whites are the most loyal supporters of their oppressors.

    The only solution I see to this most troubling situation is through the political process before it is too late. To save democracy, Trump and the conservatives who rule Congress must be voted out of office and replaced by progressives. This is the first step. The second is to enact economic programs that will demonstrate to the disaffected that progressives believe in enhancing the welfare of all people, regardless of race or ethnicity. Economic security is the surest way to prevent people from falling under the sway of the fascist appeal.

    Whether these long term goals can be accomplished is far, far from certain. The American political system is skewed to favor conservatives even if a significant majority of Americans support progressive programs. This article explains the sad reality of why the American political system, in my estimation, can best be called semi-democratic:

    Even if the Democrats by 2020 somehow manage to take back the Congress and elect one of their own as president, the enactment of progressive legislation is not guaranteed because of the rules of the Senate and the neo-liberal bias of the more conservative members of the party.

    In summary, social stability requires that all groups within society feel that they have a stake in it. That situation does not currently exist and achieving it within the next few years is a long shot. Nevertheless, progressives must make the effort to right the wrongs. To do otherwise would be to concede the country to the fascists and their conservative enablers. We should not do that.

    • eric
      Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      To save democracy, Trump and the conservatives who rule Congress must be voted out of office and replaced by progressives.

      Trump’s “non-repudiation support” seems to be the exception not the rule in this case. AFAIK, many conservative politicians have made direct and unambiguous public statements against the supremacists. Yes, white supremacy is a right-wing movement. But I think in this case we will find many allies amongst the GOP in our fight against it – and it would be foolish to attack those allies simply because they’re GOP.

      I do agree with most of your policy goals. And someone like McCain probably doesn’t. So I would happily agree with you that I’d like a more liberal senator in his place. However, on the issue of white supremacy, he (and politicians like him) are allies not part of the problem.

      • GBJames
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 10:05 am | Permalink

        I, for one, am ambivalent regarding those GOP “allies”. In general the GOP prefers that the dog whistles be more subtle, but they have consistently and for decades encouraged the growth of extremists on the right.

        It is rather late in the day for Republican leaders to discover that the obvious consequences of their dog whistling is a lot of white supremacist Neo-Confederate Trump supporters brandishing guns and driving cars into crowds.

      • Historian
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 10:15 am | Permalink

        Yes, I have noticed that many conservatives have spoken out in strong terms against the fascists if for no other reason that it is the politically expedient thing to do. We will need to see if this newly expressed conservative outrage continues. At the rally, former KKK leader David Duke expressed the opinion that his supporters and allies played a big role in getting Trump elected. Presumably, these people also voted for other conservative candidates. In other words, conservatives, probably unintentionally to be charitable, enabled the fascists. I certainly hope that the conservatives continue to denounce the fascists. This would play a major role in marginalizing them. I fear this outrage will continue for most conservatives only to the extent that it is not politically harmful. I hope I am wrong.

        • eric
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 11:26 am | Permalink

          if for no other reason that it is the politically expedient thing to do.

          You really think Orrin Hatch’s comment about his brother getting killed fighting Nazis was just expediency? Rubio and Cruz are hispanic second generation immigrants; what makes you think they have any sympathies for a white supremacist anti-immigrant movement?

          • Historian
            Posted August 14, 2017 at 11:44 am | Permalink

            Although I have not researched whether Hatch or Rubio have condemned previously the ardent neo-Nazi supporters of Trump, the Republican Party as a whole has remained silent or tolerated them (at least publicly) as part of the Trump coalition. There was no cry to get rid of white nationalist Steve Bannon. In other words, the Republican Party viewed the Nazis as votes. Now that the Nazis are no longer in the background, it is politically expedient to condemn them.

            • eric
              Posted August 14, 2017 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

              I suspect that rather than Hatch (as one example) making his comment out of ‘expediency,’ he instead doesn’t equate Bannon = Nazi the way you do. You lump, they see distinctions.

            • biz
              Posted August 14, 2017 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

              Just curious: what is the evidence that Bannon is specifically a white nationalist as opposed to just a nationalist? Not necessarily disagreeing, but I’ve been wanting to see this spelled out for a while.

    • Mike Cracraft
      Posted August 14, 2017 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      I mostly agree here. The situation now is that the US is not today anyway comparable to Weimar in the 20s. Then, the aftermath of WWI and the impending collapse of world capitalism propelled the economic conditions that made fascist groups into mass movements. We are not anywhere near that. The closest we have ever been to this is the rise of the KKK from 1920 to 1940 when it was a mass movement. These conditions no longer exist. The KKK was mostly dissolved in the wake of WWII. This nonsense about street fighting with the neo-Nazis is just left wing adventurism by a-historical students romanticizing about standing up for freedom.
      Historically it is clear that Hitler’s movement could have been crushed if Stalin’s policy of labeling the Social Democrats as “social fascists” and withdrawing coalitions with them
      had not taken place. My view is that Stalinism was the primary cause for the victory of fascism.
      Historian: chime in here please.

  12. Alric
    Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    There is simply no symmetry between the right and left here. There were Nazis, and decent people standing up to Nazis.

    Actual stats on extremism:

    • DW
      Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      The ADL is kinda full of shit. They literally say in the report:

      “NOTE: Includes both ideologically and non-ideologically motivated killings.”

      Additionally, they ONLY include “domestic terrorism”. So they take off things like the 9/11 attack. The domestic Muslim population in the US is very small, and the number of conservatives is very large. Despite their being more than 50 times the number of conservatives as Muslims, and only including domestic terrorism, three of the top four terrorist attacks were Islamic.

      • Alric
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 10:08 am | Permalink

        The point is that left extremism is insignificant to the other 2.

        • DW
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 11:02 am | Permalink

          It’s also only counting murders. Look at what happened in Baltimore, Milwaukee, Portland, Berkeley, Hamburg… the violence on the left is fewer dead, but many more injuries and a ton of property damage. And then there are the plots that were averted before major damage. For instance, just outside of Seattle, Antifa poured concrete over railroad tracks to derail any train attempting to go down those tracks.

          There is also the issue of numbers. Antifa damage is caused by a large group of people acting in concert with makeshift weaponry. But both Islam and Right Wing violence tends to be one or two individuals using guns or bombs. For instance, the 2015 numbers for right wing are pretty much all Dylan Roof. The 2016 numbers for Islam are almost all the Orlando Shooting. Does one single mass shooting incident create more terror than a sustained campaign of violence and intimidation?

          So the number of perpetrators involved in Antifa is vastly higher than both Rightwing and Islamic terrorism in the US. At one of these Antifa/Rightwing fights in California, ten people were stabbed. The fact that all ten people survived means the ADL doesn’t record it.

          Additionally, the simple “left vs. right” dichotomy they try to put everyone in is often ludicrous. For instance, was the Unabomber left or right wing?

          The ADL has a narrative and it will massage the data to fit it.

          • Alric
            Posted August 14, 2017 at 11:29 am | Permalink

            No such thing as antifa

            • Taz
              Posted August 14, 2017 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

              Are you seriously claiming Antifa doesn’t exist? If so I suggest you spend a few minutes on Google.

            • Taz
              Posted August 14, 2017 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

              Are you seriously claiming Antifa doesn’t exist? If so I suggest you spend a few minutes on Google.

        • Posted August 14, 2017 at 11:40 am | Permalink

          You tell the victims of leftist violence that it is insignificant compared to what the right does. See if that impresses them.

      • darrelle
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 10:22 am | Permalink

        I think the main point of interest and the reason Alric quoted these statistics is that contrary to what some commentors have claimed violence by left wing extremists is not more of a problem these days than violence by right wing extremists.

        Besides that, I don’t see the problem with not including deaths perpetrated by foreign terrorists when the statistics are clearly labeled “domestic Islamic extremists” and the intent is to look at deaths perpetrated by domestic ideologically motivated groups in the US. These statistics are purposely and openly looking at home-grown terrorist incidents, as in incidents by US citizens, not terrorist incidents in general.

        • DW
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 11:23 am | Permalink

          The reason they limit it to “domestic” is to attempt to minimize Islamic terrorism deaths. In other reports, they will carefully pick timelines. For instance, they’ll make the time start in 2002.

          Domestic Islamic terrorism in the US is comparatively small, because the numbers of Muslims in the US is small. Yet, it is VASTLY over represented. You won’t find them creating a graph of per-capita terrorism by the three groups in question.

          The report unfortunately, also doesn’t go incident by incident, so you can’t verify their claims of political affiliation or even whether the incident really is terrorism at all.

          For instance, when one of these “Sovereign Citizen” nutcases gets pulled over and ends up shooting the police officer, is that terrorism or is that crime? They specifically said they’re including “non-ideologically motivated killings”, which is generally “not terrorism”. And they’re definitely not including all of them. If you include every redneck who murders a stranger as a right wing killing, shouldn’t you also include every gang killing in Chicago as left wing? Personally, I wouldn’t include either one of them, but I wouldn’t include “non-ideologically motivated killing” as “domestic terrorism” to begin with.

          Remember the ADL are the people who labeled “Pepe the Frog” as a hate symbol.

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

            The reason they limit it to “domestic” is to attempt to minimize Islamic terrorism deaths.

            Well, if you really want to include non-domestic terrorism, are you going to count the million or so dead Iraqis consequent on Dubya Bush’s ideologically motivated terror attack on Irag? Which had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11 – otherwise America would have been glazing Saudi Arabia.

            • DW
              Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

              You fell for the slight of hand they’re using, and it’s exactly why they do it. You see, under their definition, “Domestic Terrorism” isn’t “Terrorism on American Soil”, but “Terrorism by American Citizens on American Soil”.

              So 9/11 attacks aren’t considered “Domestic Terrorism”. That Somali student at Ohio State that ran over people and then tried to stab more isn’t considered “Domestic Terrorism”. The earlier bombing of the world trade center nor the attempted bombing of Times Square back in 2010. It doesn’t include the Boston Marathon bombing, and a host of others.

    • darrelle
      Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      It will be interesting to read any responses from those who have been claiming that the radical left is much more dangerous than radical right these days.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted August 15, 2017 at 3:49 am | Permalink

      What an inconvenient collection of stats. Thanks for the post. Puts some of the hysteria from apologists into perspective. There’s a reason decent people instinctively support one side over another, and it’s not because they’ve been hoodwinked by antifas.

  13. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Who was responsible for the violence? … both Left and Right came to the demonstration spoiling for a fight.

    Yes, there were those on the “left,” like the antifa assholes, who came spoiling for a fight, and I condemn them unambiguously. Difference is, there were also plenty of people who came out to counter-protest peacefully — including many good people from the C-ville area who simply didn’t want their town associated in the public consciousness with Nazis and the Klan. Far as I know, there are no good Nazis or Klansmen or other species of the wing-nut menagerie that showed up for the other side. Hell, while I was watching the news coverage on Saturday, a mob of ’em attacked a group of mixed-faith, mixed-race ministers peacefully singing “This Little Light of Mine.”

    Which makes me wanna hear the great Odetta let loose on that tune right now:

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      Whaddya got on your side, Nazis — the Horst-Wessel song?

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

        Tomorrow Belongs to Me“?

    • Diane G.
      Posted August 15, 2017 at 2:47 am | Permalink

      Difference is, there were also plenty of people who came out to counter-protest peacefully — including many good people from the C-ville area who simply didn’t want their town associated in the public consciousness with Nazis and the Klan. Far as I know, there are no good Nazis or Klansmen or other species of the wing-nut menagerie that showed up for the other side.

      Such an important point.

  14. Liz
    Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    I keep remembering this from the other day (yesterday I believe) and how important it is.

    “…we have to distinguish between those who commit and directly incite violence, and those who espouse sentiments that do not directly call for violence but could lead to violence as an unforseen consequence. That’s how the courts have interpreted the First Amendment: direct incitement is illegal, while speech that causes violence as a byproduct is not.” – Charlottesville 2

    This is a helpful reminder about the law and free speech. It’s necessary to review especially when confronted with difficult situations like this.

    I’m also not for violence of any kind. If I had been in a situation where someone hit me or was violent with me for any reason, I would find it difficult not to at least try and protect myself with my self-defense techniques.

  15. Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    I like the idea of exposing and identifying these people who parade their evil causes in public. After all, if it’s their goal to be seen by everyone, what’s wrong with giving them what they want?

    But ideally their job losses should be demanded by their coworkers, who should band together and simply refuse to continue working with them.

    • Mark R.
      Posted August 14, 2017 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

      It’s been reported that the protesters are being outed on twitter by the handle #Yes, you’re a racist. So far, one Californian idiot named Cole White got fired. I guess I’d like to know if one of my employees was a white supremacist, but like Jerry said, this is a form of thought policing.

      • GBJames
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

        I’m not convinced of the “thought policing” argument. When someone participates in public activities they should assume that the public will be aware of it. That’s the point of “coming out”, something that most of us here advocate for closeted atheists all the time. Nobody is being “outed” here.

  16. Brian Jung
    Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    The waving of swastika flags in the context of the Charlottesville march constitutes a direct threat of violence. There is no ambiguity in waving a Nazi flag in this context. It says to people of color and Jews, I will kill you, I will kill your children and their children, and I will kill anyone who stands with you (including counter-protesters). A Nazi flag (or a Klan flag or hood or a burning cross) brandished in this way should not be protected speech any more than calling up your neighbors and threatening to kill them should be protected speech.

    Likewise, it should be understood that many who reacted to the Nazi symbols reacted out of fear that their lives and their neighbors lives and their family’s lives were being threatened.

    Threatening speech is not protected under the First Amendment. There is no need to invoke special Hate Speech laws or introduce additional censorship, only to properly interpret and enforce existing laws.

    As far as who initiated the violence? That’s easy. The guys with the swastikas did.

    • Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      Sorry, but the courts don’t agree with you; the issue of the flag has been adjudicated by a liberal court and found not to constitute a direct threat of violence (“fighting words”). I don’t agree with you, either. When the Nazis marched through Skokie, there was no violence. A flag is protected speech, and your opinion is not that of the courts. Did you even read my post? I showed an instance of the Left causing violence, and I don’t think this is the only case. In Berkeley, it’s clear that Antifa was the main instigator of violence.

      • Brian Jung
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 11:19 am | Permalink

        I’m sorry. I did read your post and should have included more context here.

        I know what the courts and the ACLU have said about this, and strongly disagree with those opinions, particularly in the Skokie case which was hardly open and shut. What could possibly be the intent of carrying swastikas through a neighborhood of largely elderly Jewish people, many of them holocaust survivors, except to threaten and incite terror? How could a “reasonable person” interpret it any other way? It baffles.

        While it’s not always easy, we must be able to distinguish between a “vile idea” which should be protected, and a threat of violence which should not.

        In the Charlottesville case (and in the Skokie case) I think this distinction is actually quite easy to make.

        Like you, I don’t mean condone the violence from the Left and agree with you 100% in the Berkeley case. I wouldn’t even excuse every counter-protester at the Charolttesville tragedy. But I think the message of certain symbols in certain contexts is often perfectly clear and where those symbols plainly represent a threat of violence, as they did in Charlottesville, we can simply interpret them as such. Those making threats through the use of these symbols should be held to account for the violence they incite.

        In short, though I agree with the ACLU around 95% of the time, I think decisions like Skokie need to be revisited.

        • eric
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 11:44 am | Permalink

          I’m mostly liberal. I despise these supremacists. And yet I don’t think this is a perfectly clear message of impending violence. A nazi flag to me says “we want non-whites (including Jews) out of the country.” It doesn’t say “I plan on pulling out my gun and shooting you now.” And it doesn’t say “hey you buystander – I want you to pull out your gun and shoot a Jew right now.”

          What you’re trying to do here is claim we should ban speech based on what it connotes to you and some other people rather than what it denotes. The problem with that is connotation is somewhat in the eye of the beholder. That’s why SCOTUS is so conservative about it. What they generally want to see before speech is banned is a denotative message of violent threat or incitement. Symbolic banners aren’t that.

          • Brian Jung
            Posted August 14, 2017 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

            The courts have a method for dealing with ambiguities of language. They defer to what a “reasonable person” would think.

            Given the context, do you think a reasonable person might interpret the presence of swastikas in Charlottesville as a threat?

            I could be wrong but it seems perfectly plain to me.

            • eric
              Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

              Am I a reasonable person? Are you? 🙂

              A reasonable person by the courts is someone fairly well-versed in the background and history of the surrounding events. They’d know that neo-nazis and klansmen have held marches in the US for decades, and that in the vast majority of such cases it simply isn’t true that events go [banner raised], [marchers see it as signal to attack], [marchers attack]. In fact I don’t know of any public marches where things proceeded like that at all. Do you? So the judicially reasonable person would know that the banners are not used as a signal to the people around to start violent action. That’s the sort of imminence or incitement the courts need to think is going on for the speech to be illegal. Raising a banner to communicate to people that the group hates the and wishes them dead or deported is legally fine. Morally repugnant, but legally fine.

            • Diane G.
              Posted August 15, 2017 at 2:58 am | Permalink

              Without the visual evidence, many people simply wouldn’t believe that such hate groups really exist, right where they live. I say, let these minority hate groups show their true colors so that the rest of us are never prone to slacking off when it comes to eternal vigilance.

              To elicit the better speech which is the antidote to hate speech, people have to know that there is in fact hate speech in their midst, and who’s promulgating it.

    • eric
      Posted August 14, 2017 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      I disagree. It could symbolize support for anti-immigration policies. It could (and probably does) signal support for President Trump. It could and probably does mean opposition to civil rights laws.

      Its worth remembering that in terms of the first amendment, even something like burning a cross is allowed…on your own yard. It’s only considered a real threat when you do it on someone else’s yard. Likewise with the swastika; they applied for permission to march and got it. That’s equivalent to “their own yard.” If, OTOH, one of these supremacists were to nail it to the front door of someone else’s house, the courts would likely agree with you that yes that constitutes a threatening message.

      • Brian Jung
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 11:40 am | Permalink

        Sure. It could mean all of those things, but it still also represents a threat of violence. If I said, “I’m going to kill you in the name of Jesus,” I could claim it was simply an expression of my faith, but you might see it otherwise.

        Re the individual threat argument: I don’t understand the court’s position that a threat of genocide is somehow considered less dangerous than a threat directed at an individual. It baffles.

        • eric
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 11:54 am | Permalink

          There’s a huge difference between your example and the case of swastika-waving. In your case, the literal message (denotation) is a threat while your hypothetical speaker is claiming the symbolic meaning (connotation) is different. In the swastika case, the opposite is true; the banner-waver articulates no literal message at all, it is only the symbolic meaning (connotation) of the viewer that you’re claiming is the threat.

          I don’t understand the court’s position that a threat of genocide is somehow considered less dangerous than a threat directed at an individual. It baffles.

          It’s the difference between a student writing “kill all teachers” in their year book vs. finding a student journal detailing the who, when, where, how, etc. for his plan to shoot his teacher. The level of detail in the latter makes the threat more serious, more credible, even if the target is just one vs. lots. Likewise, “we ought to kill all Jews” is less a credible or serious threat than “We ought to go to Bob’s house tomorrow with our guns around 5pm, and shoot him when he returns from work and gets out of his car.” The former is free speech. The latter (in a non-example context) probably isn’t.

          • Brian Jung
            Posted August 14, 2017 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

            Two things:
            1) If you are Jew standing next to the person who says “We ought to kill all Jews,” the threat is specific.

            2) Your claim that a swastika articulates no literal message is absurd on its face. Symbols exist within contexts. The threat may not be specific–in fact, that’s part of what makes it menacing–but it certainly invokes, quite literally, the acts and philosophies of Nazi Germany including genocide. And a reasonable person would conclude that this is why white supremacists wave Nazi flags at a protest centered around the removal confederate statues. They are intimidating and threatening others with that invocation.

            • eric
              Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

              1) If you are Jew standing next to the person who says “We ought to kill all Jews,” the threat is specific.

              Legally, it’s not specific enough. “Kill all Jews” doesn’t say when it should be done. It doesn’t direct any specific person to do it or claim the speaker is going to do it. Its vague. SCOTUS has ruled such vague threats are protected speech, that you need a sort of journalistic who-what-where-when-how specificity for a threat to no longer be covered under the 1st amendment.

              Here’s an even more specific example that is still considered free speech: you can publish a picture of someone on your web site. You can put a gun’s crosshairs over their face. Under the picture, you can publish their name and home address. And you can publish an opinion about them related to why you have them in the crosshairs (“abortion doctor” for example). And that’s legally protected speech. Why? Because you aren’t telling anyone specific to shoot them. You aren’t saying when they should be shot or telling anyone to do it right now. You aren’t denoting that you’ll do it. So it’s not specific or imminent enough for the courts to rule illegal. And if that doesn’t rise to the level of imminent threatening speech, neither waving a klan flag or saying “Kill all Jews” does either.

    • Posted August 14, 2017 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      I’m going to agree with you on this one, Brian. Let’s declare the waving of a swastika flag an expressed threat to commit violence.

      * Also the hammer & sickle flag carried by antifa and many others;

      * The 1870 Paris Commune banner trotted out every protest by the Oakland, CA radicals. (The Commune ruthlessly rounded up and in cold blood murdered innocent clergy);

      * T-shirts depicting Che Guevara, member of an oppressive dictatorial regime, and accused of personally torturing prisoners.

      This is going to be a long list, so we’ll probably need to take it to another place.

      • Brian Jung
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

        Matt, I’m not for banning swastikas, seriously.

        I’m saying that waving a Nazi flag in a particular context–by white supremacists in a protest to defend the removal of confederate statues–is obviously intended as intimidation and a threat of violence. To pretend otherwise is to practice willful ignorance.

        Your examples don’t compare. Some of them are purposefully arcane and all of them are without context. Context is my point.

        I don’t want to ban symbols, just recognize threats when they are plainly being made.

        • eric
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

          If its obvious, then tell me what the flag says about who is supposed to do the attack and the date, time, location, and target of the attack. Is the flag communicating that Bob the protestor should attack the UVA president tommorow at noon? Or is it an obvious message that Alice should do a drive-by against a sociology professor next week at midnight? Who is the actor, who is the target, when is the attack to take place, and is it imminent?

          Those are the things a symbol needs to communicate before the law will consider it a legally forbidden threat of violence.

          • Brian Jung
            Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

            It’s obvious in as much as “you know what they mean by waving the Nazi flag during this march.” Everyone knows what they mean. That’s why they brought the flag.

            I don’t believe all of your listed specifics are required in order to constitute a credible threat. I’m pretty sure bomb threats are illegal even if they don’t provide a time or date, or even a specific location.

            In fact “Nice store you have here, shame if something should happen to it” in most states is an illegal threat if the person making the threat intends it to be a threat and the person being threatened believes the threat. I think that’s exactly the condition we have here with waving a Nazi flag while marching to defend Confederate statues and carrying weapons, etc.

            Please, don’t get me wrong. I think we have to be incredibly careful distinguishing between threats and protected speech. And when in doubt we should come down on the side of free speech.

            I just can’t see how there’s a doubt here unless you are determined to get lost in semantics. Some things really are obvious.

            • eric
              Posted August 14, 2017 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

              Again though, who are they threatening with violence? The workers who pulled down the statue? The mayor of Charlottesville? The counter-protestors? Me?

              Your “nice store you have there” example presumes a scenario where one specific person is talking to another specific person. That’s why it works (and even then, I am not as sure as you it would always be deemed threatening illegal speech). The perpetrator is specified (the speaker). The victim is specified (the listener), and even the target is specified (the store).

              In the case of a bunch of people walking down the street with a swastika, none of those things are specified. The animus behind the message is obvious, I agree. The classes of people it’s pointed towards is also obvious – blacks, Jews, and immigrants. But nobody specific is being threatened, nobody is claiming they’re going to do it or ordering someone else to do it, no specific type of action is mentioned (i.e. is it murder? Arson? Vandalism?), and no time frame is mentioned. Today? Tomorrow? In 2116? When? Those sorts of details are what turns legal speech into illegal threats.

        • Posted August 15, 2017 at 8:49 am | Permalink

          Either waving a certain flag is permitted or it is not. Your ‘context’ criterion is not just an attempt at mind-reading, it is abhorrently authoritarian.

      • Posted September 23, 2017 at 4:09 am | Permalink

        Thank you for this comment! I had harbored suspicions about the Paris Commune but it is much idealized where I live, so my suspicions were just that – bare suspicions.

        • Posted September 23, 2017 at 9:35 am | Permalink

          c.f Alister Horne, The Terrible Year

  17. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted August 14, 2017 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    James Field’s high school teacher has reported that he advocated Nazi ideas in the classroom way back then.

    His mother thought he was going to a Trump rally.

    • GBJames
      Posted August 14, 2017 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      “His mother thought he was going to a Trump rally.”

      It seems he was.

      • Diane G.
        Posted August 15, 2017 at 3:03 am | Permalink

        Indeed. Close enough.

  18. allison
    Posted August 14, 2017 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Sorry Jerry, but I completely disagree with you regarding the public identification of these people. Why should their identity be protected? They were out in a public place! Those who are identifying them are doing a public service – I would not want to employ or hire any such people. Public shaming is an effective and non-violent way to fight these deplorable people.

    • Posted August 14, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      You do have a point in that since they are in public and make no effort to conceal themselves they have no expectation of privacy.

      Despite the hand-wringing, there are very few real similarities between Nazi Germany and the alt-right fools playing at being Nazis. Very few parallels indeed. However obe such parallel is what you are suggesting. Denunciations were a central part of the way real Nazis kept control of people. Of course the problem with denunciations is that they catch everyone accused, whether guilty of whatever thoughtcrime they are denounced for or not.

      Does every person in photos from the event deserve your denunciation, Allison? If not, how do you distinguish between the ones who do from the one who don’t.

      Can I pick out people to denunciate too? What about anyone else? Who, in your estimation, should be approved to make the call about someone in a photo at events like this; a Nazi so…no job for you or not-a-Nazi, so you get a pass (but we’re watching you)?

      • johnw
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

        Yes, anyone who shows up and supports a rally of people intentionally wielding torches in the night like a KKK lynch mob and then the next day brandishing KKK flags and Nazi symbols shouting vile racist and anti-semitic slogans deserves public denunciation and identification.

        Don’t really agree with that crowd and don’t want to be lumped in with them, don’t appear along side them in apparent support. Simple. Some actions have consequences.

        I agree with exposing them.

        • Paul S
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

          And the antifa, do we publicly identify them as well? How about the people caught in the middle? Can you pick out who’s who?
          Is this a you’re there and you get what you deserve deal?

          • tomh
            Posted August 14, 2017 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

            “And the antifa, do we publicly identify them as well?”

            Of course you can, you can identify whoever you want. This is America, it’s called free speech.

          • mikeyc
            Posted August 14, 2017 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

            There’s a passage in Erik Larson’s “In the Garden of Beasts” where Wlliam Dodd, the American Ambassador, witnesses a foreign business man (he must have had American papers as Dodd later became involved in trying to free him) walked into the street as a communist group was marching nearby. The Nazi authorities rounded him up as well as many of the communists as they could. He was pointed out by good Germans because he had failed to give the Nazi salute to the rounder-uppers.

            Despite Dodd’s efforts he man was never heard from again. That was only one of many examples recounted in that book of people being rounded up for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

          • johnw
            Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

            Like I said, actions have consequences. If Antifa people break the law and menace people, sure identify them. But realize that Antifa types have a long way to go to descend to the level of Nazi/KKK lovers. Attempts at depicting these two groups as equivalent are ridiculous.

            • mikeyc
              Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

              Moving the goalposts. First you were for identifying anyone at tbe protest. Now you’re saying the Antifa should id’d only if they “break the law and menace people”.

              You make Paul S’s point for him. I don’t think you intended to.

              • johnw
                Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

                Didn’t mean to, but since to RWNJS anyone who shows up as a counter-protester is Antifa…I tried for a realistic example, and property damage seems more Antifas thing that let’s play storm trropers… But let’s see, what symbols of racist oppression and mass murder do Antifa types show up and wield? When does Antifa have their torchlit remember the good old lynching days marches in southern towns? When has Antifa exercised their free speech by spewing bigotted rhetoric about other groups being subhuman that is reminiscent of the worst of human behavior. When they do that, yes I support exposing that too.

      • allison
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

        Are you suggesting that we not “denounce” people for espousing racist views? We should forfeit our First Amendment right to tell them that their views are abhorrent? I disagree entirely. I’m not advocating denouncing people for “thoughtcrime” – I’m advocating denouncing people for participating in a white supremacist rally during which a person was killed and many other injured. To fail to do so is to give them our tacit endorsement!

        I have no objection to “denouncing” any person photographed or recorded wearing Nazi or white supremacist insignia, or attacking people (yes, including Antifa). Nearly all of these interactions were recorded with cameras, so I am not concerned that photographs alone might mistakenly incriminate someone. Of course by all means the exposure of these individuals must be done carefully to avoid falsely accusing innocent persons.

        If anybody wishes to “denounce” me for standing in opposition to fascists and racists, go ahead – make my day.

        Again, the identification of these people is a public service – if a relative or friend of mine was participating in this, I would disown them; if I employed one of these people I would fire them; and if one of them operated a business in my area, I would refuse to patronize it.

        • mikeyc
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

          As I said, since they do this in public with no effort to conceal, there is no expectation of privacy and you are free to denounce whomever you wish.

          My point, Allison, is that there is very little difference (save morals) between what you’re advocating and what real, actual Nazis did. The example I gave elsewhere of a businessman in Berlin stumbling into a street situation, getting denounced and never being heard from again, points to a real world consequence of tactics similar to yours. That you can’t or won’t accept that is telling.

          So go ahead. Call out everyone you can that you see in those photos. Try to ruin their lives, guilty or not; they don’t deserve our American freedoms. Just be hopeful that the tides don’t turn and it becomes your turn to be denounced.

        • Richard
          Posted August 15, 2017 at 3:57 am | Permalink

          So if you came out as an atheist in public, and your Christian boss immediately fired you because he didn’t want to employ any of those godless immoral atheists, would that be OK with you?

          • GBJames
            Posted August 15, 2017 at 7:32 am | Permalink

            Speaking for myself, I would not be “OK” with being fired. (Duh!) But I would not blame someone who pointed out that I had come out as an atheist.

            People are blaming the consequences of a public act on people reporting the public act. That makes no sense.

            Retaliation by employers may or may not be justifiable. But that’s not the responsibility, IMO, of people who report public events.

  19. Marta
    Posted August 14, 2017 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Let’s do a thought experiment.

    Imagine that you’re a woman holding your infant in your arms, and your other children are wailing in terror as they cling to your skirt. (Or imagine that you’re this woman’s lover or husband, and these children’s father. As you prefer.) Further imagine that the cause for this is that men are pointing machine guns at you and yours, and they are ordering you to board a train bound for a concentration camp, and if you and yours refuse to board, they will kill you where you stand. Imagine that this happens several million times.

    Do you think that woman and her family–as well as the several million others who shared her experience–should be comforted at all by the fact that, even though they are murdered, at least the free speech rights of the people who vilified them and wanted them dead, are safe?

    How noble of us, advocating for the speech rights of people who subscribe to white supremacy ideology, when it is not we who are boarding the trains.

    • eric
      Posted August 14, 2017 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      Could you explain to me how a group legally marching down a US street = armed soldiers forcing mothers with babies to board trains to a concentration camp? Right now all your thought experiment makes me think is “mere appeal to emotion.”

      • Marta
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

        Well, sure. Same as how Kristallnacht was just a group of folks who were marching down the street legally.

        • eric
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

          It wasn’t though. Which is exactly the point; you’re comparing two very different things.

    • Posted August 14, 2017 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      Oh ffs. As horrible as those people were in Charlottesville this is not Nazi Germany . Your vignette, while both sobering and terrifying, bears no resemblance to the trouble we’re having. The U.S. in 2017 simply isn’t anything like Germany under the Nazis; not our culture, not our economy, not our government, not our legal system, nout our history or the state of the world. The only parallels are small groups of deranged racists playing at being Nazis. That’s not to say they aren’t dangerous in small nasty ways or that we should ignore them, but histrionics isn’t helpful.

      • Marta
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

        In so far as millions of men, women and children actually died in the way I described, or worse, it is perhaps not “histrionics” to point it out.

        I wasn’t there, but I’m pretty sure that before these innocents were carted off to be killed, the speech of the day leading up to the “final solution” involved a whole lot hateful rhetoric. But you know. Excuse the drama.

    • Historian
      Posted August 14, 2017 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      I sympathize fully with your fear that most of the Nazis at Charlottesville would revel in the opportunity to send Jews to the death camps. I know that many people are fully aware of the Holocaust and fear happening in this country what took place under Hitler. The real question is what is the best way to prevent this from happening, which is very unlikely under any circumsances. Some European countries have confronted the problem by banning hate speech. In the United States the approach, via the first amendment, is to allow such speech with the expectation that “good” speech will drive out “bad” speech. So far in American history this approach has largely worked and I believe it will work in this case, but I will admit that it is an act of faith. Predicting the future in this matter is a fool’s errand. For example, it is possible that suppressing the free speech of Nazis may force them underground and actually help them gain recruits as they play to the hilt the victim card. So, taking into consideration that American history is very different from that of Germany’s, I think the best strategy is to confront peacefully the Nazis at every turn and try to foster the socio-economic conditions that will result in them withering away to irrelevance. But, there is no guarantee that this strategy, or any strategy, will work. We all must live with uncertainty. It is the human condition.

    • Posted August 14, 2017 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      You’re advocating censoring free speech to avoid hurting feelings. Nope.

      • Historian
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

        As I indicated in my comment above, I disagree with Marta’s view that the free speech of Nazis should be suppressed. But, get her argument right, which apparently you have not read. She is advocating suppression of free speech not out of fear of hurt feelings, but out of fear of people being sent to a death camp.

        • Posted August 15, 2017 at 8:55 am | Permalink

          She’s doing both. She asked how we thought an holocaust survivor would feel. She’s also created an overly-tenuous (thus legally unsound) connection of dots — resting essentially on a facile post hoc ergo propter hoc error.

          But you do catch the bottom line: she’s advocating suppression of free speech.

      • Marta
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

        If you can’t connect the dots between the expression of hate rhetoric and deportations, lynchings and death camps, you need to sharpen your pencil.

        • johnw
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 1:16 pm | Permalink


        • Posted August 14, 2017 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

          If you can’t see that those dots are not what you think they are you need new reading glasses.

        • Posted August 14, 2017 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

          Yes, that’s what Muslims say when they try to censor criticism of Islam, such as Jesus and Mo. It’s Islamophobia, they say, and will lead to genocide of Muslims.

          Sorry, but we’ve had the Nazi Party in the US for decades, it’s been defended by the ACLU (as it was in Charlottesville), and there have been no deportations or gassing.

          Do you want to be the one who decides which speech is hateful? Is Holocaust Denialism a form speech that should be banned? How about criticism of affirmative action? Lots of blacks consider that Hate Speech.

          How quickly some liberals become authoritarians when suddenly they hear speech they don’t like.

          I have Jewish ancestry, but not for a minute would I want a law preventing neo-Nazis from saying their piece, so long as it follows what the courts have construed as following First Amendment guidelines.

          It’s the speech we don’t like that needs to be protected, and I’m distressed to see progressives all of a sudden favoring the banning of “hate speech”.

          • Marta
            Posted August 14, 2017 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

            Yeah. I’m okay with deciding which speech is hateful. I won’t decide for others whether they should find it hateful, too. But I don’t have any trouble using my own moral compass or critical faculty to make a distinction about speech that makes the world dumber or meaner.

            Holocaust denial is stupid and abundant, but as far as I can see, the deniers have been the litigants (see, for example, David Irving v Deborah Lipstadt.) Germany has made Holocaust denial a crime, and does not seem to be suffering much as a result.

            I don’t know what to tell you about how you should feel about neo-Nazis. That gets to be about you. But I have no use for them, and it would be my very real privilege to press a big red button that drops every one of these fuckers into a sewer with no doors or windows. You can feel about ’em however you want.

            • Posted August 14, 2017 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

              And that, my friends, is how Donald Trump became president of the USA …

              • mikeyc
                Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

                Yep. Very sad indeed.

              • tomh
                Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

                No, it’s not.

            • Paul S
              Posted August 14, 2017 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

              This is exactly why we have the first amendment. You may think you can decide what speech is hateful or should be banned, I don’t agree.
              Rule one. Any person who thinks they should be a censor is the last person that should be a censor.

            • eric
              Posted August 14, 2017 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

              Yeah. I’m okay with deciding which speech is hateful.

              But the government isn’t run by Marta’s Beliefs. It’s run by a variety of people with different views depending on who is elected….and their appointed staff. So consider your free speech limitations like the child’s story of sharing a cake. Only instead of “Marta cuts the cake, Jeff Sessions gets the first piece” it’s “Marta gets to decide how much power the government has to censor ideas it finds hateful or dangerous…and Jeff Sessions gets to decide which ideas to apply the censorship, which ideas count as hateful or dangerous.”

              Do you really want to give government the power to censor hateful ideas given that you and people who think like you aren’t guaranteed to be able to cut the cake and pick your piece?

              How do you think the Marta and Jeff Sessions game works out, if your move in the game is to decide government can just declare illegal whatever speech it finds “hateful”?

        • eric
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

          The problem is ‘hate rhetoric’ is not a very specific test for future violence. And if we’re going to lock people up or take away their freedoms based on a proxy test, the specificity had better be really damn good. Otherwise you’re probably creating more social unrest (by locking up peaceful people on little evidence) than you’re solving.

        • Posted August 15, 2017 at 8:46 am | Permalink

          You need to read Brandenburg v. Ohio to understand how such dots are or are not connected. I stand by my assertion that what you advocate is a dangerous attack on free speech and liberty.

    • Posted August 14, 2017 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      You appear to be giving us a straight choice between banning free speech and allowing genocide. Other options may be available.

      • Marta
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think I’ve said anywhere that its a choice between free speech and genocide.

        Fun can be had by engaging in the argument I actually made, which is that hateful rhetoric is the precursor to deportations, lynchings and death camps. (Unless, of course, you think the idea for exterminating “undesirable” people sprang fully loaded into Germans’ heads, all at the same time, apropos of nothing in particular?)

        • eric
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

          Well, as the philosophers say, it may be a necessary condition but it’s not a sufficient one. Actually I doubt it’s even a necessary condition, so you don’t even have that in your philosophical favor.

          But my point being that not all or even most hateful rhetoric leads to violence. The vast majority of the time it leads to nothing. So what do you propose to do? Lock up everyone who voices hateful rhetoric, knowing that >99% of them are peaceful haters?

  20. Rich Sanderson
    Posted August 14, 2017 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Politicians are very fond of the “I condemn all sides/violence” rhetoric.

    It is always deployed when they have a narrative to defend.

  21. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 14, 2017 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Gonna be interesting to watch Trump today, trying to climb out of the hole this has put him in. He’s constitutionally incapable of denouncing anything pro-Trump — or at least incapable of doing so with the slightest bit of sincerity.

    But, then, the Donald is incapable of mustering much sincerity about most topics, save his personal resentments. He has a reputation for “authenticity” among his fans solely because so much of what he does in public is suffused with resentment — either his own personal resentments directly, or the personal resentments he manages to sublimate into the grievances of the white working class.

    There’re rumors right now that Trump could be fixin’ fire Steve Bannon. He oughta shitcan the other crypto-fascists in the White House while he’s at it, including that boob Sebastian Gorka and dead-eyed Stephen Miller. If he does, Breitbart and the rest of the alt-right will go nuts, calling him a “cuck” and depose him as their god-emperor. It’ll put him in his first real jeopardy of losing a portion of his hardcore base.

    The Donald is totally unsuited to negotiate between the rocks and hard places of the US presidency.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted August 14, 2017 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      It becomes very hard to offend the base. Without them he is just another lost character pretending to govern while insulting half the world. Hurry up Mueller, time is wasting.

    • eric
      Posted August 14, 2017 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      I think he’s very capable of denouncing pro-Trump people…when they don’t do what he demands.

      I think in this case the bigger barrier to him climbing out of the hole is the fact that he never admits to mistakes. But he doesn’t really have to do that; this WH has operated for months on sending wildly different signals from different administration speakers, and I’m sure the same thing will happen here.

  22. Posted August 14, 2017 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    For those interested, the two symbols on the shield are,

    Fasces (centre)
    Counter-intuitively, the symbol does not exclusively denote fascism, and as the Wikipedia notes “its use remains acceptable in various legitimate contexts” (which is shown with many examples). However, the circumstances in this case, and other symbololgy (slogans, torches, swatiska …) pulls it directly into a fascist context. More on fasces. It’s a bit comical that the men managed to attach their fasces each in a different orientation. That’s not how Germans proper would do it. Amateurs.

    The symbol on the right is the Sonnenrad, which is a good example of a flavour of pagan-occultist propaganda in the Third Reich that was very much the hobbyhorse of Heinrich Himmler.

    Christians love this, for it makes the Nazis altogether seem unchristian. Hollywood loves this, because it makes them seem in league with actual demonic forces. In reality, this pagan-occultist flavour was relatively limited around Himmler and just one aspect among many more. The Nazis overall used virtually everything across germanic or german history that they could twist around and put to propagandist use, including Christian crusaders raiding Poland (Eisenstein captured this theme prophetically with his Alexander Nevsky (1938)). George Lucas build on Wagner, Himmler and Eisenstein. I note that every nation, especially at the time, invented their own national myth as a legitimization, but the Nazis have turned the propaganda up to eleven. More on the Sonnenrad.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      I note that every nation, especially at the time, invented their own national myth as a legitimization,

      One other example of the conscious construction of a “national myth” which was going on at the time involved a professor of ancient languages. JRR Tolkein was developing his “Middle Earth” mythology at the time, and one of his explicit intentions was to construct a mythology for England with a comparable scale and glory to Wagner’s Rings Cycle.
      I’m not saying there was anything wrong with this – nor with Wagner – but constructing national myths is something a lot of countries like to do.
      Oh, look – there’s a cowboy movie on the telly.

  23. Posted August 14, 2017 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    I was on the verge of adding a comment on the Charlottsville tragedy, but Jerry has said everything here that I would have said, and done a better job of it. No one would deny that the White Supremacists are racists, but the fact remains that there would have been no violence had the counter-protesters not shown up looking for trouble. I might add that there would also have been no violence had the city not decided to remove the statue of Robert E. Lee in the first place–a provocative and, to my mind, wrongheaded decision. What’s next—are we going to remove all the headstones of Confederate soldiers who fought and died in the Civil War?

    • johnw
      Posted August 14, 2017 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      Why is it a provocative act to remove a monument to a man who fought to maintain enslavement for approximately 30-40% (the slave population ~1860) of the residents of his precious state? Why should current African American residents of Virginia (~20%) have to be confronted with monuments to men like this to this day?

      • Posted August 14, 2017 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

        Should we then remove every monument to Washington and Jefferson, who were slaveholders? Where does it stop. Are you the one who decides which statues are “okay”?

        • mikeyc
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

          Discretion would be important. We honor things Washington and Jefferson did which did not rest on their slaveholderness. Someone like General Lee’s honors come principally from their efforts in an unjust cause.

          I do understand that these are slippery slopes.

          • Paul S
            Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

            Should we only remember BMW, VW and Mitsubishi for the people and causes they represented and the lives they took?
            Most people know who Robert E Lee was and who he represented. You can’t and should not attempt to erase the US Civil War. General Lee was an important figure in US history no matter what side he was on.

            • mikeyc
              Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

              It’s a difficult issue that needs to taken on a case-by-case basis. No matter what decisions are made someone will be outraged.

              • Paul S
                Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

                Agreed. The point is I’d rather not see history whitewashed. The US Civil War was a cornerstone event and we need to remember who was involved and what was at stake. It could have been the end of the United States. General Lee was a major factor in the war and should be remembered for what he did and who he was in the context of the war. No Gen. Lee, no confederacy, no slavery…..
                Next thing you know Texas will try to remove any mention of slavery from their history textbooks. Oh wait, they already tried.

            • Marta
              Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

              “no matter which side he was on”?

              Well, that would be the losing side, the side that seceded from the country, the side that went to war against its family and friends, the side that caused the war that killed more men than all other US wars combined, and the side that went to war because it didn’t want to stop killing, raping and enslaving black people.

              Robert E. Lee was these losers’ president, and if you think the South puts up statues of Lee because “he’s an important figure in US history” rather than as an explicit rebuke to the repeal of Jim Crow laws, you could benefit by reading more books.

              • Paul S
                Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

                Yes, I know who he was and what side he was on and what they represented. The point being that we shouldn’t whitewash history just because it’s ugly.
                A few comments down I noticed a suggestion that we relegate these displays to museums, that would be fine with me.

              • tomh
                Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

                “Robert E. Lee was these losers’ president”

                The President of the Confederacy was Jefferson Davis, whose name graces parks, highways, schools, counties, and every other thing you can think of, including innumerable statues, all over the South. His birthday is a legal and public holiday in Kentucky and Florida. His desk is in the US Senate, reserved for the senior Senator from Mississippi. The idea that there is any chance that Civil War history could possibly be erased, or whitewashed, or whatever apologists call it, is simply ridiculous.

              • Historian
                Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

                When you make an argument, it is really helpful to get basic facts correct. If you don’t do this, people are very likely to dismiss whatever good points you may be making. Robert E. Lee was not president of the Confederacy. That was Jefferson Davis. Tomh provides more details. For most of the Civil War, Lee was the field commander of the Army of Northern Virginia. He is renowned for the many battles he fought with the Union’s Army of the Potomac.

              • allison
                Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

                Removing a statue from a public location is not “erasing history”. “Erasing history” would be going to the library and removing all the history books, or bulldozing historical buildings and battlefields.

                If statues of Hitler and Mussolini were still standing in Europe, would you support leaving them in place today?

              • Marta
                Posted August 14, 2017 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

                Tom H., thank you for that correction. I’ve been making that same mistake for years. Like the correct spelling of “committtttment”, I can’t seem to remember that it was Davis, not Lee. I’ll take a few minutes to think of something useful to blame the lapse on 🙂

              • eric
                Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:24 pm | Permalink


                If statues of Hitler and Mussolini were still standing in Europe, would you support leaving them in place today?

                Off topic but I have to admit, I find StalinWorld a perversely funny idea.

          • W.Benson
            Posted August 14, 2017 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

            Lincoln was a member of the American Colonization Association. He informed Washington free blacks in a meeting called by Lincoln at the White House that they were inferior people and asked them to voluntarily remove themselves from the United States. This is according to the official minutes of the meeting of Aug. 14 (Today!!!), 1862.
            Shall we call this “Honest Abe Lincoln’s Just Cause”?

        • johnw
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

          I agree 100% with Mitch Landrieu on this issue. As regards Jefferson and Washington and Monroe and the rest of the ~50% US founding leaders owning slave, I also agree it’s a tougher issue. Obviously we can’t erase everyone ever associated with unfairness in any way, but at least one can argue that the founders were involved in doing something good, whereas the civil war was a war against our country in support of one thing – enslaving people.

          I guess ultimately I see it as a local community’s decision, and my understanding is a majority in Charlottesville want the Lee statue gone.

          • tomh
            Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

            “I see it as a local community’s decision,”

            In this case it was the local voters, through their elected representatives, the City Council, who decided to remove the statues. After two years of significant debate and dissent, the Council voted, not to destroy them, but to move two Confederate statues from two small neighborhood parks in the center of town to McIntire Park, a large, grassy park on the north side of the city.

            It’s not as if Confederate memorials are difficult to find. There are over 1000 Confederate monuments in 31 states, some not even involved in the Civil War. For instance, there is the Confederate Memorial Fountain in Helena, Montana. Montana wasn’t even a state at the time of the Civil War.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

          Confederate statuary and symbolism is on a different footing — much of it was erected in the first place during the post-Reconstruction era “Lost Cause” resistance, and it recrudesced in the ’50s and ’60s in opposition to federal-court-ordered desegregation, in continued support of Jim Crow and against the civil-rights movement. Look at the trauma the nation had to endure to get those goddamn Confederate flags torn down from atop the rotundas of southern state-capitol buildings.

          They should rip it all out, root and stem, you ask me. Put it in museums where it belongs.

          • Paul S
            Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

            In light of my previous comments, I’d agree to your suggestion, “Put it in museums where it belongs.”
            I was not advocating a resurrection of the confederacy.

          • Historian
            Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

            Ken, I assume you are talking about the statues that should be ripped out and placed in museums. If so, I agree with you. I have a difficult time believing that the removal of the statues to a museum would be erasing history. Statues such as Lee’s were erected at a time when it was believed that the people depicted deserved to be honored for doing something “good.” They were not erected to give history lessons. History should be learned in museums, classrooms, and books. Gazing at a statue is not learning history. If a community decides, in light of current values, that a person should only be not honored, but actually dishonored, then it is perfectly appropriate for a statue of that person should be removed to a museum. At such a place people can view the statue and actually learn something about what the person did when alive.

        • yazikus
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

          I’m on board for renaming Washington ‘North Oregon’.

        • Historian
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

          It should be the governmental authorities that control the statues to decide whether or not to remove them.

          The United States was founded in large measure by slaveholders, many of whom in the abstract considered slavery an evil, but felt helpless to take concrete actions to end it. For much of American history the fact that the United States was established as a slaveholding republic was erased from the history books. This, not the removal of statues, is the true erasing of history. Over the past 50 years, historians have brought to the public attention how much slavery was an integral part of American society and its economy at its founding. For many Americans, who were taught that the Founders were pure freedom loving demigods dedicated to freedom of all people (after all, it says that in the Declaration of Independence) find it difficult to grasp that the reality is quite different from the myth.

          It is a pure value judgment as to whether the statues should stay or go. If you think that the good the slaveholding Founders outweighed the fact that they kept humans in bondage then you should support the statues staying. If you think the opposite then they should go.

        • tomh
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

          “Should we then remove every monument to Washington and Jefferson, who were slaveholders?’

          Well, for myself, if a city voted, as Charlottesville did (through their elected representatives) that, since Washington was a slaveholder, they didn’t want his statue to be the face of the city in a downtown park, but would move it to another park in the city, as Charlottesville wants to do, I would have no problem with that. And I would say that the majority in any municipality should have the prerogative to display what statuary they want, barring any violation of laws (religious statues on public grounds, for instance.)

      • W.Benson
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

        At least 12 US presidents were slave owners and at least 1, Andrew Jackson, was a slave trader. Lincoln’s congressional Republicans in 1862 passed laws allocating $600,000 to finance the emigration to Liberia and elsewhere of freed Washington D.C. slaves, who they apparently no longer wanted either in our nation’s capital or in the USA. R.E. Lee and Thomas (Stonewall) Jackson were merely military men who, in the twisted social mind of the epoch, felt they were defending their region from WashingtonDC’s overreach and, with respect to slavery, Biblical precepts. [You would be appalled with the number of pre-1860 books written by pastors defending slavery with Biblical passages].

        • tomh
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

          Is any of that relevant to the statues that the city wants to move?

    • mikeyc
      Posted August 14, 2017 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

      General Lee was a great military leader and so I can see why some might want to honor him. But he was a leader who fought for an “evil”* cause. Someone here asked the other day what might Jewish people think of a statue of Erwin Rommel, another great military leader who fought for an “evil” cause? It’s time to shed a lot of the honors we’ve bestowed on people whose very fame rests on such “evil”.

      * hope you understand. – quotes because that’s a mostly religious term.

    • darrelle
      Posted August 14, 2017 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      What about the provocation by the Lee statue of the African American people living in that area during all the years since the statue was erected?

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

        If they find the Gen Lee statue so offensive, how about they pay for another statue in the same park. Say, of Gen Lee lynched and hanging, tongue out, legs still twitching, from a branch of a nearby tree. Then everyone visiting the park could have a very educational discussion.

      • eric
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

        How is this a counter-argument when what the Charlottesville voting public and their local representatives decided to do was move the Lee statue to a different park?

        Clearly the people living in that area don’t have a huge issue with a Lee statue being visible in the community somewhere. They just didn’t want it to be where it was.

        • darrelle
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

          It wasn’t intended as a counter argument Eric. It was intended to be a mirror to see that the original argument was not valid. But even so, I don’t think your argument works. Apparently enough locals disliked the statue enough to get it moved from their area to the other side of town. Not to mention people in the past, such as the many descendants of slaves that have lived in the area, that very plausibly didn’t care for the statue.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 14, 2017 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      What if the German-American bund of northern Illinois wanted to erect a statue of field marshal Erwin Rommel in the city park of Skokie in honor of how nobly he had fought for the Fatherland during the North African campaign? Would the local townspeople be “provocative and … wrongheaded” for opposing it?

      • Posted August 14, 2017 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

        First off, erecting a statue is different from taking one down, and your example of erecting one to Rommel in Skokie is a bit far-fetched. There is, in fact, a monument to Rommel outside El Alamein in Egypt, which, as far as I know, no one has suggested taking down. I’m rather surprised that there isn’t one in his home town of Heidenheim, Germany. The comparison of Rommel and Lee is a good one, however, and there’s a blog about this very question at

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

          Oh, my example is fanciful, no doubt. But aside from build-it/remove-it, is there a meaningful distinction? Should that distinction alone lead to a different result?

          • Posted August 15, 2017 at 2:30 am | Permalink

            “But aside from build-it/remove-it, is there a meaningful distinction? Should that distinction alone lead to a different result?”

            I’d say that depends on the reasons for and timing of the removal. Compare the statue of Lee to, say, the Vietnam Memorial wall. We know why the memorial was erected—to ensure that the war and the persons who lost their lives in that war won’t be forgotten—this despite the fact that many people, myself included, feel that the Vietnam war was “evil” and should never have been fought. What would taking down the memorial mean? In the case of the Lee statue, have we just realized that slavery is evil and therefore the statue of Lee, which has been there for 90 years, should come down? Are we desperate to convince ourselves that we’re more sensitive to racism than previous generations and are out to flaunt our moral superiority? These aren’t rhetorical questions; I’d like to know your opinion of why, at this late juncture in history and in this particular political climate, we’ve decided to remove the statue. Then I might be able to answer your questions.

            • Diane G.
              Posted August 15, 2017 at 3:47 am | Permalink

              In the same way that the answer to hate speech is more (anti-hate) speech, perhaps they should leave the Lee statue in place and add one of MLK…

              A society’s heroes change over time. In the same way, a statue erected to honor a hero at a given time might be seen as morphing into more of a statement about the state of history back then, no longer as a reflection of current attitudes.

            • GBJames
              Posted August 15, 2017 at 7:26 am | Permalink

              “…have we just realized that slavery is evil and therefore the statue of Lee, which has been there for 90 years, should come down?”


              You need to understand the history of these monuments. They were (mostly) built durning the great resurgence of the KKK in the 1920s. These installations were expressions of white supremacy, part of the re-writing of Civil War history to conform to the “Lost Cause” myth. They were intended to normalize the Confederate cause and help justify Jim Crow.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted August 15, 2017 at 8:39 am | Permalink

              “I’d like to know your opinion of why, at this late juncture in history and in this particular political climate, we’ve decided to remove the statue.”

              These memorials to the Confederacy are an affront to many of our fellow citizens whose ancestors were enslaved per the “peculiar institution” that Lee led the fight to preserve. This issue is being raised now mainly because these citizens are only now, at long last, wielding sufficient political clout of their own to have these complaints heard.

              I don’t contend that such Confederate reminders must be removed as a matter of law. But I think that where a polity such as Charlottesville decides to remove them, that that’s an entirely appropriate political decision for it to make. And I question the good faith of those who make a cause célèbre out of protesting their removal on the grounds of losing their own “heritage.”

              • Posted August 16, 2017 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

                “This issue is being raised now mainly because these citizens are only now, at long last, wielding sufficient political clout of their own to have these complaints heard.”

                I don’t buy this, Ken. If this were true the decision could have been made at any time during the 8 years that we had a black president, during which period the citizens’ “political clout” should have been at its peak. Instead it was made one month after Trump’s inauguration. The timing looks to me like a deliberate attempt to bring the loonies out of the woodwork and blame the predictable backlash on Trump’s “climate of hate.” I’d like to think I’m wrong and I’m willing to be convinced otherwise, but for now this scenario seems to me more credible than yours.

              • tomh
                Posted August 16, 2017 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

                But it did begin during Obama’s term, not because he was black or blacks had more political power. It was the Charleston, South Carolina church massacre in 2015 that provided much of impetus for removing these symbols. After the shooting, South Carolina lowered the Confederate battle flag from the capitol grounds. Alabama Governor Robert Bentley ordered it removed in Montgomery, the former capital of the Confederacy, too. Cities and states began tearing down or quietly removing statues, flags, and other memorials. Even Charlottesville began discussion of moving the statues over two years ago. And it was the people of Charlottesville who decided to move the statues, through their elected representatives, the City Council. This is a representative democracy, after all.

                The “predictable backlash” has come since the inauguration because the diehard white supremacists know they have a friend in the White House, and have seized upon the confederate statues as a convenient vehicle to parade their agenda. They have nothing to fear from this administration, as Trump demonstrates over and over.

                To say the timing was somehow planned to make Trump look bad or to provoke white supremacists is on a par with a false flag conspiracy theory.

              • Posted August 16, 2017 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

                “The ‘predictable backlash’ has come since the inauguration because the diehard white supremacists know they have a friend in the White House.”

                So you think that if the City Council had voted to take down the statue when Obama was in the White House the neo-Nazis and White Supremacists would have stayed home and played backgammon?

                Other than that, you make some valid points. Thanks.

            • tomh
              Posted August 15, 2017 at 9:29 am | Permalink

              “why, at this late juncture in history and in this particular political climate, we’ve decided to remove the statue”

              “We” haven’t decided to remove the statue, the people of Charlottesville decided they didn’t want racism to be the face of the city in the downtown area and decided to move the statue to another park in the city.

              • Posted August 15, 2017 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

                “But I think that where a polity such as Charlottesville decides to remove them, that that’s an entirely appropriate political decision for it to make.” (Ken Kucek)

                “the people of Charlottesville decided they didn’t want racism to be the face of the city. . . .” (tomh)

                For the record it wasn’t the people of Charlottesville who made the decision, it was the City Council on a vote of 3-2, a decision whose legality is still under challenge in the courts. Had it been voted on by the people of Charlottesville in a referendum, I might agree with you, though I’d still think it was a wrongheaded decision.

    • tomh
      Posted August 14, 2017 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, if that dumb woman hadn’t been standing there doing nothing she wouldn’t have gotten killed. Let’s blame the victim.

    • eric
      Posted August 14, 2017 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      “Provocative” in the vernacular sense of angering a bunch of people, yes. But governments make decisions that anger sub-groups of citizens all the time. It doesn’t excuse violence.

      In this case however I can’t really see the event that occurred as related to the question of Robert E. Lee’s status as general worth honoring or not. If UVA historians had been marching to save the statue, maybe I would have bought that that’s what the protest was about. But the type of people who showed up makes it fairly clear they were there to communicate racism, not maintain Virginia history.

  24. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted August 14, 2017 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    I was surprised to find several readers yesterday saying that the speech of the white supremacist/Nazi sympathizers/nativists should be banned, as some countries do. If you believe that, then you have to decide which speech constitutes hate speech and should be banned. If there’s a slippery slope, that is one of them.

    The use of hate laws is an open question for me. I want to see clear statistics that it works – less violence – to have them.

    But if they work, fine. Court procedures use type cases to set a marker in any slippery slope. Like this: “the courts’ consistent interpretation of what speech is allowed and what speech constitutes harassment or direct incitement to violence.” (Of course that is not foolproof. But again, the proof is in the statistical pudding.)

    In any case, this is not a current concern for me, nothing in choices that would upset me personally. (The violence, and the bigotry, is upsetting.) I see little factual evidence either way. Though I wonder how well hate laws plays with the Declaration of Human Rights?

    • eric
      Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

      The difference between Europe and the US is not really that one has ‘hate laws’ (I’m going to assume you’re talking about hate crime law) and the other doesn’t. The US has them too and yes our courts have to grapple with the question of what constitutes hate speech as a legal matter.

      The difference (AIUI) is that in Europe, depending on country and subject, hate speech itself can be a crime. In the US, you have to do a ‘normal’ crime (arson, vandalism, murder, whatever), and then the question of whether you did it out of hate for some racial, ethnic, etc. group is considered in sentencing. Maybe the pithy way of saying it is that Europe recognizes hate crimes, the US recognizes hate-motivated crimes.

  25. Posted August 14, 2017 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    “As John Stuart Mill argued eloquently in On Liberty, there’s a good case to be made for allowing even vile speech to be promulgated, for banning it only drives it underground, while allowing it gives those who hear it a chance to understand it and formulate a response to the other side’s arguments.”

    Many people in this country who voted for Trump
    had tried to maintain silence about their anti-nonwhite, anti-nonchristian, anti-elite orientation for many years. They spoke their true feelings before and during the election by voting for Trump, the chameleon. They now feel justified in spewing out the hatred they’ve bottled up so long. David Duke and his cohorts, and other like-minded groups, believe their support of Trump helped elect him, and now Trump owes them. Many of these groups have maintained a relatively underground presence in our nation for years. Now they feel free to
    express themselves and act openly.

    I do not sympathize with their apparent viewpoints. Those of us who firmly believe in equal rights and freedom of speech also have been stifled for many, many years during and after the witch hunt of Senator McCarthy. And, any time we travel throughout the middle of the country and the south we stick out like sore thumbs if we speak our so-called truths. Either one maintains silence to avoid conflict, or expresses what s/he believes fully aware that there may be ostracism at the least and, possibly, physical confrontation.

    Prior to, during and after,the second world war, fascism faced off with communism in the U.S. and the world. There were more fascists and pro-fascists, communists and pro-communists living among us than is taught in history (is history still taught?) That confrontation still is going on.

    Freedom of speech is such a critical element in maintaining our Democracy. We all should be able to verbalize our thoughts without being shut down, but with the understanding that anyone who disagrees has an equal right of verbal expression. One would hope that this could lead to some understanding of each other’s viewpoints or, at least, an agreement to disagree without violence resulting.

    Going further back to another issue mentioned here, at the time of the Civil War there were NO states in the union that didn’t have slavery. Smaller numbers in the north than the major slave-holding south, but in existence in every state. And, the importers of slaves for sale were predominantly from the northeastern states. There is plenty of blame to go around.
    And, this doesn’t even take into account the virtual slavery of indentured servants or the wage-slavery of new immigrants to the country.

    It is a great fairy story or myth we tell ourselves about our fine ancestors that they created this country out of wholly beneficent
    reason and noble actions. Humans are not wholly
    rational and not wholly noble. We must remember that they were just humans, some trying to do good. We are the same. May we succeed.

    • Posted August 14, 2017 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

      … at the time of the Civil War there were NO states in the union that didn’t have slavery.

      At the time of the Civil War? I’m pretty sure that is not true. Either that or I had a very bad history teacher.

      • mikeyc
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

        Rowena is wrong. Numerous states were free, some before the 19th century began as were U.S. territories except the New Mexican territory and Indian territory (became Oklahoma).

        • Posted August 17, 2017 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

          I apologize to all of you for stating as fact that “at the time of the Civil War there were NO states in the union that didn’t have slavery.” I can’t find my source for that statement at present, and I may have misinterpretted what I read of it.

          There’s a lot information on the internet about this, of which I read several today. There’s also the 1860 census which purportedly provides information about slave vs. free in each state.

          Following is an excerpt from one of the sources I read today:

          ” The enslavement of African Americans in what became the United States formally began during the 1630s and l64Os. At that time colonial courts and legislatures made clear that Africans–unlike white indentured servants–served their masters for life and that their slave status would be inherited by their children. Slavery in the United States ended in the mid-1860s. Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of January 1863 was a masterful propaganda tactic, but in truth, it proclaimed free only those slaves outside the control of the Federal government–that is, only those in areas still controlled by the Confederacy. The legal end to slavery in the nation came in December 1865 when the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified, it declared: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

          Development of American Slavery
          The history of African American slavery in the United States can be divided into two periods: the first coincided with the colonial years, about 1650 to 1790; the second lasted from American independence through the Civil War, 1790 to 1865. Prior to independence, slavery existed in all the American colonies and therefore was not an issue of sectional debate. With the arrival of independence, however, the new Northern states–those of New England along with New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey–came to see slavery as contradictory to the ideals of the Revolution and instituted programs of gradual emancipation. By 1820 there were only about 3,000 slaves in the North, almost all of them working on large farms in New Jersey. Slavery could be abolished more easily in the North because there were far fewer slaves in those states, and they were not a vital part of Northern economies. There were plenty of free white men to do the sort of labor slaves performed. In fact, the main demand for abolition of slavery came not from those who found it morally wrong but from white working-class men who did not want slaves as rivals for their jobs.”

    • fighthatefightcorruption
      Posted August 23, 2017 at 12:15 am | Permalink

      Exactly!! If only a small portion of the population felt this much hate then how the hell did Trump become president!! All of these hate groups came together and voted for him which means there is a lot more hate in the country than good.

  26. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 14, 2017 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    I can’t look at this man Trump, I don’t see the albatross of Birtherism yoked around his neck. He got his toehold in politics with it, and he should never be allowed live it down.

    The whole stinking affair was Donald Trump in microcosm: racist, opportunist, fundamentally dishonest and cynical. He claimed he’d received tips from from highly placed, reliable sources about documents establishing Obama’s Kenyan birth; and he claimed to have hired a team of private dicks in Hawaii who couldn’t “believe what they’re finding.”

    And it was all naught but unadulterated bullshit, like everything else Trump brags about in his putrid, shallow life.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted August 15, 2017 at 9:11 am | Permalink

      He’s an utterly disgusting human being, and every second he continues in office is injurious to the status of the USA.

      He is the only politician I’ve ever seen who is completely devoid of any positive characteristics whatsoever. Shameless, selfish, cowardly, stupid, ignorant, mean, petty…he is a cringing, shuddering embarrassment to a great country and we will hopefully look back on the endlessly sordid, depressing saga of this cretin’s presidency as a kind of collective wake-up call for liberal democracy.

      Listening to this alternately ridiculous, pathetic and vicious moral-black-hole pump out his moronic, overcompensatory braggadocio from the White House podium should focus the minds of Democrats and decent Republican like nothing else in their political lives.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 15, 2017 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

        So is that a “yes” on contributing to the Trump re-election campaign? 🙂

    • darrelle
      Posted August 15, 2017 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      Please forgive copying the following comment I made at another site, I don’t have time at the moment to paraphrase.

      I notice many people in many places expressing this sentiment. And man, I certainly agree with it. But there is a whole group of other assholes that I haven’t seen mentioned any where in the same context (leaders paving the way for events like Charlottesville). Those other assholes include, but are not limited to, the entire Republican Party machine and its various Tools over the past 20 years or more that worked so diligently at preparing the way for a Trump, the Republican Party leadership and their manipulators that enabled and then allowed Trump to become the Republican Party presidential candidate, the previous and their lower tier quislings that supported Trumps run, and of course the reprehensible assholes leading the Republican congress during Trump’s reign, particularly McConnell and Ryan. I know you and most others here don’t need me to point that out, but I think it should be said out loud at least as often as Trump is mentioned.

      These people are far more to blame for enabling this than Trump is. Trump is like a poorly designed and dangerous tool. These assholes created the tool and then were stupid enough, cynical enough, greedy enough, to try and wield it.

  27. harrync
    Posted August 14, 2017 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    I think I understand what Jacob Smith did [hitting the Hill reporter recording the mayhem]. When my brother died, his body was not discovered for a week. When a press photographer went to photograph his partially decomposed body, I tackled him, right in front of a deputy sheriff. No photograph was taken. I looked over at the deputy; the expression on his face seemed to say “You did the right thing kid; you did the right thing.” I was not arrested.

  28. Posted August 18, 2017 at 2:40 am | Permalink

    There is no place in the world for this type of thing. Disgusting. I had a friend killed by a crazed Muslim who ploughed through a crowd in a mini-van.

  29. Posted September 23, 2017 at 5:18 am | Permalink

    Excellent post and discussion!

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