“Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game?,” Casey Stengel
A fellow named Jason Kessler obtained a permit to hold a rally protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from a Charlottesville, Va park. Citing the obvious constitutional right to hold the rally in public space, the city granted the permit to hold it in that park. Later the city tried to change the rally location to a different park but a federal judge blocked the change in a suit brought by the organizers and the ACLU, allowing the rally to take place in the proper park. Those planning to attend among others were members of the Klu Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party. Not the most lovable of people, but if the freedoms of speech and assembly embodied in our Constitution are to have any real meaning, we must protect even the most unpopular. Given these planned attendees, some opposed then planned to show up and counter demonstrate. They too were given permit to assemble and rally but at a different park. This group contained members of the Antifa or “antifascist” groups. Let’s see the Klan, the Nazi and Antifa all in the same city at the same time, what could go wrong? Violence and chaos seems to follow in wake of each.
Given the obvious possibility of trouble, the authorities from the City to the State needed a workable plan to keep things under control. No matter what you think of those rallying to save the statue, they had every right to safely assemble at the park and have their rally. That means counter protestors kept at a distance preventing them from denying those favoring the statue their constitutional rights.
The job of the authorities was plain to see and they should have done their sworn duty. Instead they failed miserably. They knew or should have known who was coming and planned accordingly. Given the strong possibility of violence, needed resources should’ve been in place to quickly prevent anyone from acting in an unlawful manner. No room for things to get out of hand. A bloody melee in the park on rally day between the two groups gave proof the authorities were clueless. Why were the Antifa and their allies even in the park? Their permit was for a different park. Their presence alone infringed on the pro statue people’s rights to free speech and assembly. According to ACLU observers, the police did nothing. Apparently, no one gave the orders to prevent the ensuing battle.
Once blood is spilled, passions are released, the unbalanced can become enraged. Thank goodness streets were blocked so someone with over the top fury couldn’t use a vehicle to wreak havoc as has happened too often recently. Only they weren’t. As a result a woman was killed and many injured. The mess in Charlottesville should have have given President Trump an above the fray moment while he savaged the Democratic Leadership at every level for their failures. Virginia Governor, Terry McAuliffe in fact, is a potential Democrat opponent for the presidency. His inept actions made him a perfect target. Trump could have defined the Antifa without making any equivalency with the Nazis or the Klan. We’re grateful to Mark Bray, the author of “The Anti-Fascist Handbook” writing in the Washington Post, who informed us,
““antifa” (pronounced ANtifa) is a radical pan-leftist politics of social revolution applied to fighting the far right. Its adherents are predominantly communists, socialists and anarchists who reject turning to the police or the state to halt the advance of white supremacy.”
He goes on to say,
“the anti-fascist tradition stretches back a century. The first antifascists fought Benito Mussolini’s Blackshirts in the Italian countryside, exchanged fire with Adolf Hitler’s Brownshirts in the taverns and alleyways of Munich and defended Madrid from Francisco Franco’s insurgent nationalist army. Beyond Europe, anti-fascism became a model of resistance for the Chinese against Japanese imperialism during World War II and resistance to Latin American dictatorships.”
These groups were called “Reds.” One doesn’t have forget fascist horrors to acknowledge in the light of the mas executions of the “Red Terror”, had the “Reds” prevailed in Spain it would’ve gone much as in Cuba, Venezuela and the Soviet Union. Not exactly a walk in the park. Historically, just opposing Fascism hasn’t equaled “Liberty and Justice for All”. The President simply could have made clear we won’t tolerate any paramilitary groups duking it out . He could’ve expounded on our shared principles and how all these people conflicted with them.
Unfortunately, our President failed even to do what was in his own interest. Appearing to lend support to the Nazis and Klan by implying equivalency with their opponents without defining them. Instead of hammering the incompetent Democrats and calling out all that came with vile motives, he appeared to go light on Neo-Nazis and the Klan. Not where any President should ever find himself. He did ask the salient question, if it’s OK to destroy everything associated with those you detest, where will it end? Unfortunately, it was drowned out, unanswered in the widespread rebuke. Again Trump had a chance to widen his base with Presidential leadership and expose Democratic ineptitude. Instead he managed to narrow it.
While the Democrats are patting themselves on the back, they might take a moment to realize they too have failed to widen their base. Again showing their distaste for the “deplorable”, they enforced their image as clueless elites. While failing to handle what they had to know would be a difficult situation, they found a way to insult the very sizable part of our population with an ancestor who fought for the Confederacy. Now, instead of looking down on a person for coming from “a long line of horse thieves,” we have Democrats elites looking down their noses at those coming from “a long line of bigots, racists and traitors.” According to the latest NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist Poll, 62% want the Confederate Statues to remain, while only 27% want them removed. Do Democrats actually think they’ll win people’s votes while putting them down by calling their ancestors horrible names? Maybe that explains that even with Trump, they have yet to win an election since his win.
There you have it. Both sides playing to the voters they already have while alienating everyone else. Competence seems is unknown to either. Neither seem to realize wide appeal is needed govern. A “Pox” on both their houses.