As a follow-up to my commentary about the Left's role in America's escalating political violence, let's look at a fresh example of the problem liberals insist we ignore in the wake of the Charlottesville disgrace. My contention is that responsible and intellectually-honest Americans can hold multiple thoughts in their heads at the same time:
(1) The despicable racism, bigotry and violence of white nationalists, white supremacists and neo-Nazis is deeply immoral and antithetical to our values. (2) Appalling people with appalling opinions have a right to assemble peacefully, free from violence. (3) While most Americans' instinctual revulsion over the Alt-Right's hate rally is natural, the Alt-Left's deliberate violence -- which has reared its head across the country -- is an unacceptable response to any speech, no matter how vile. As I said in a somewhat heated Fox News exchange about the president's Tuesday press conference, if we're going to have a meaningful discussion about hatred and political violence in this country, we cannot airbrush out a significant element of that scourge:
In the clip, I also defended the president against some unfair characterizations of his remarks, while sharply criticizing his assertion that there were "fine" people at a hate rally that featured white nationalists wielding torches, chanting disgusting slogans. Yes, there are plenty of non-racist Americans who have legitimate concerns about purging Civil War monuments from the public square. No, people of good faith do not attend white nationalist marches. Nevertheless, I've felt compelled to repeatedly direct Twitter aim at the Left's abuse of the sometimes-applicable term "whataboutism:"
In a national conversation on escalating political violence, noting left-wing contributions to it isn't "whataboutism."— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) August 16, 2017
Which brings us to the upsetting story of a young conservative in Syracuse, New York who attended an anti-Alt-Right vigil in order to show solidarity with the victims of neo-Nazi violence in Virginia, and to make a strong statement that conservatives reject this virulent Right-ish strain. His reward for attempting to link arms in defense of American values? An Antifa assault. Via Legal Insurrection:
“I wore my Young America’s Foundation hat to the rally as a symbol of peace,” Caleb explained. “I wore the hat to show that conservatives condemn the actions of the alt-right just as much as anyone else in our culture.” It was this hat that earned Caleb the attention of antifa supporters at the same rally, and led to a violent attack caught on camera...About an hour into the rally a participant noticed my hat and proceeded to stick up his middle finger at me and then direct the other antifa supporters of my very presence. One of the girls from antifa, dressed in all black, began to shout me down and ask, “Are you with right wing media? Why do you have the fu**ing hat on? You’re with Young America’s Foundation?” I simply responded by informing them that I meant no harm and was peacefully assembling.
She then proceeded to yell loudly, “We don’t want you here.” At this point I turned on my camera, because I did not know what they planned on doing to me. She got more aggressive and antifa supporters surrounded me, like a pack of wolves. One member tried to grab my camera, to which I latched hard to, so that they would not damage my personal property. Another member of antifa took the hat off my head, screamed more expletives and tossed my YAF hat away. It was at this moment the camera stopped rolling, as someone pressed the record button on my camera and then proceeded to yank on the strap of my camera, choking me. Three or four of them then proceeded to continue to scream, “We don’t want you here!” while grabbing me by my button up shirt and dragging me off Clinton Square and into the street.
When conservatives stand up and make clear that the Alt-Right in no way speaks for them, they should not be subjected to verbal attacks, let alone physical ones. As National Review's excellent weekend editorial said, the center-right has a special duty to isolate and condemn groups like white nationalists. The mainstream Left, likewise, must 'take out the trash' on their own side. That starts with Antifa. Unfortunately, the talking point du jour among many liberals is that anyone who raises the specter of left-wing violence in the aftermath of Charlottesville (where left-wing violence was an active phenomenon, according to the police and the New York Times) is somehow diminishing the evil of racism -- or even acting as an "apologist" for Nazis. Nonsense.