Since we are incapable of having a political debate in this country in 2017 without resorting to partisanship and tribalism, the violent events in Charlottesville have turned into a national game of finger pointing.
The various flavors of bigot who showed up, ostensibly to protest the dismantling of Confederate-themed memorials, are beholden of an ugly and fundamentally wrong world view. They’re extremists. The fringe of the fringe.
The self-styled anti-fascists who showed up with clubs and body armor to silence the bigots are also extremists. They’re also wrong.
But it’s become fashionable for the left and the right to minimize the extremism of the extremists most closely associated with them. On the right, it’s President Donald Trump suggesting that there were some “good people” marching with the guys wearing swastikas and waving Confederate battle flags (here’s a hint: Good people walk away when they see a swastika at a protest).
On the left, that has manifested itself in comparing violent antifa activists to WWII veterans.
Case in point, this tweet from an Esquire writer:
"Alt-left thugs" who battled Nazis pic.twitter.com/fflvchzGDF
— John Hendrickson (@JohnGHendy) August 15, 2017
Also, this letter to the editor in the Fargo Forum from Retta Massey of Bowman:
Many people are criticizing the counter protesters that went to Charlottesville to stand against the white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and Ku Klux Klan for resorting to violence during their counter-protest. I understand, I wish violence wouldn’t happen anywhere.
I also know that my grandfather and two uncles went to combat in World War II against the Nazis (white supremacists) in Europe. They went to stop that evil and prevent it from coming to the United States. They used every conceivable, available amount of violence they could summon up to fight the evil that were (are) the Nazis.
This is resoundingly stupid.
Not only is this sort of rhetoric a tacit endorsement of violence aimed at people engaging in controversial and unpopular political speech, it also does a disservice to WWII veterans who deserve something better to be compared to masked left wing thugs wielding clubs and Soviet flags.
Disrupting with violence a demonstration, no matter how odious its message, is no act of heroism. It is an act of suppression.
Our veterans fought for freedom, which is the opposite of suppression.
There were entire armies of heroes who fought in WWII.
There were no heroes fighting in Charlottesville.