The recent violence in Charlottesville, culminating in the death of a young woman and the injuring of several more people at the hands of an apparent racist has triggered grief, outrage, tribalism and…hypocrisy.
I’ve written about American tribalism before, here. The recent Charlottesville experience splashed a huge bucket of kerosene onto that particular fire. And with it, came vast quantities of self-contradiction on both sides, enough to trigger the bullshit alert built into anyone who practices critical thinking.
Here’s the deal:
If you’re a self-styled Antifa (anti-fascist) and you advocate violence with slogans like “Put your fist in a fascist’s face,” and you use physical force and intimidation to shut down voices you don’t want to hear, you’re practicing fascism yourself and you’re a damned hypocrite.
If you’re a Southerner and ready to fight to keep people from pulling down statues memorializing Confederate soldiers like your great-great-grandfather who perceived themselves to be fighting for state’s rights, you have a point and I’ll listen to you. But if you do it while wearing a swastika or any other Nazi regalia and are chanting anti-Semitic Nazi-born rhetoric while doing so, given that your father and grandfather fought and bled to defeat the Nazis in World War II, you’re a God-damned hypocrite.
If you excoriate President Trump for saying there was fault on both sides, your black and white view of things constitutes at least partial blindness. Just as many of the good people marching in protest against racial supremacy were not there to harm others, even though they marched alongside ready-to-fight provocateurs, it’s hard to believe there weren’t also a few well-intentioned townsfolk who were there to preserve their memories and memorials of Charlottesville past. If there hadn’t been earlier violence and civil disruption on the part of Antifas, I suspect a whole lot of people would not have been motivated to march with the supremacists. Until lately, the American neo-Nazis and the KKK had been underground, festering like anaerobic bacteria but not manifesting themselves as a serious social illness; I don’t think there’s any question that high-profile Antifa violence provided them at least one step in the stepladder they used in Charlottesville to pull themselves up out of their well-deserved place in the dustbin of history and into the media spotlight they sought. Hypocrisy in there? Oh, yeah.
Some of us who’ve dedicated our lives to teaching judicious use of force have advised that if your car is surrounded by a crowd of vicious, violent, out-of-control humans who are dragging innocent people out of the vehicles and savagely stomping them, you are justified in shooting them to save your life and the lives of your passengers, and equally justified in putting your car in low gear, laying on the horn, and driving slowly but steadily away. If those intent on harming you and your passengers are willing to die by deliberately blocking your escape from their unwarranted violence, if they go under your wheels the history of the law says that their death or injury is on them, not you. But if you try to twist that into saying that it’s justifiable for someone not under physical attack to drive their car full speed into a group of protesters who have offered you no harm save inconvenience, you’re not only a hypocrite, you’re a vicious lying SOB who has just sacrificed his credibility.
Yes, it’s complicated. A spirited discussion on the matter is going on in the comments page here. However, I think the blog entry you’re reading now is the best place to carry on the discussion, and as always, your comments are welcome.