Some folks won’t be glad that Mr. Metz is bringing up the Charlottesville horror again. But the Unite the Right march in Virginia was a terrible event that will be written about in history textbooks, so we should to come to terms with it in good faith and honesty. Maybe bringing it up again will cause folks to do what I did — investigate the videos and transcripts of what happened so we will have more facts and fewer “lies.”
Mr. Metz refers in his opinion piece to a “Charlottesville lie.” This lie is the claim that Mr. Trump, when he spoke of “fine people on both sides,” equated the neo-Nazis and white supremacists with the protesters marching against them. We should know all the facts before we decide where we stand on the lying.
In his Aug. 17, 2017, press conference, Mr. Trump did in fact condemn white supremacists and neo-Nazis. He did also state that a group of people espousing hate and fascism contained very fine people which caused some folks to wonder if he did not hold with his earlier statement of condemnation.
When I watched Mr. Trump’s press conference, I became confused when he talked about two different groups of marchers. One group marching the night before the huge daytime rally was described by Mr. Trump as “innocently,” “legally” protesting removal of a Confederate statue.
I looked at reports of the nighttime march. The marchers were chanting “blood and soil” and “you will not replace us.” These are blatantly hateful and anti-Semitic chants. There were brawls reported. It doesn’t appear the marchers were calm, innocent folks only concerned about the statue and damage to cultural heritage.
So what is the evidence as to who was at the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally and why? Were these good-hearted conservatives marching to save monuments and their history or was the intent to promote white nationalism, with its message of hate and exclusion?
I learned something I hadn’t realized — the Aug. 12 rally was the third event of its kind in Charlottesville in 2017. Each of these rallies involved self-proclaimed white nationalists and racists, apparently whipped up by an April 2017 decision by the Charlottesville City Council to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee from Lee Park.
We should remember that at the time there was nationwide evaluation of Confederate statues and monuments after an avowed racist and fan of Confederate symbols gunned down nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina.
Charlottesville had already endured a march in the spring full of anti-Semitic chants. The Charlottesville Republican Party chair, responding to the May event, stated, “Whoever these people were, the intolerance and hatred they seek to promote is utterly disgusting and disturbing beyond words.”
The idea behind the August march was clear in a police affidavit saying who was expected at Unite the Right — including roughly 250 to 500 Klansmen and more than 150 “Alt-Knights,” the military division of the Proud Boys. There are images online of the affidavit and the permit showing who was expected to appear at the march.
Unite the Right had a lot of promo flyers and the like that were up front about how the Lee statue, or honoring Confederate veterans, wasn’t really the point of the gathering. You can find them online. Despite the name, Unite the Right, the rally was not about the political right wing or conservative ideas.
Conservatism does not espouse fascism or the destruction of the Jews or other minorities. The speakers were prominent white supremacists and alt-right activists. It’s easy to find the speaker list.
One was a neo-Nazi and founder of the neo-Nazi podcast The Daily Shoah (a denigrating reference to the Holocaust), internet figure and noted anti-Semite Baked Alaska, neo-Nazi Christopher Cantrell and Michael Hill, co-founder of the League of the South and a slavery enthusiast.
The photos of the event are hard to deny. The Unite the Right marchers were raising their arms in the Nazi salute wearing Nazi t-shirts. They wore body armor and shields, apparently prepared for violence.
Folks, we all know that fine people don’t support groups that espouse hatred and division. They don’t travel to join a march so violent that a governor is forced to declare a state of emergency in which 20 people are injured and two State Police troopers crash and die while lending helicopter air support to law enforcement.
I think we can all “unite” (right, left and center) to say that we cannot leave any doubt about rejecting hate, fascism and the like. No more white nationalism, no more anti-Semitism, no more lying to ourselves about who came to Charlottesville and why. No more. Do your homework. Find good evidence. Don’t be hateful. Be informed.
Peachtree City, Ga.