Charlottesville: A Tragedy with Fault on all Sides

On Saturday, August 13th, the “Unite the Right” Rally was held in protest of the motion to have a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, which was decided in a referendum to remove the statue in a 3-2 vote, and a 5-0 vote to rename the park.

This rally was preceded by a night march on August 12th, with the members of the Alt-Right carrying tiki torches and chanting phrases like “Blood and Soil” and “You will not replace us.” The protests evolved into a large riot and brawl between the people who made up the “Unite the Right” rally, as well as members of ANTIFA (a violent, self-proclaimed, anti-fascist, leftist group). The violence that ensued resulted in the death of one woman, two state troopers, and left over two dozen injured.

32-year-old Heather Heyer killed after car crashes into crowd

Heather Heyer (32), the woman killed by the car that crashed into the crowd during the riot

H. Jay Cullen (48) (Left) and Burke Bates (40) Right were the two state troopers who died in a helicopter crash while monitoring the fighting between ANTIFA and The Alt-Right during the Charlottesville protests

In my opinion, this incident did not need to occur. These people didn’t have to die or be harmed in any fashion. Nonetheless, it happened. So who is at fault for this tragedy? It isn’t just one side that is to blame. Rather, all of the parties involved are at fault.

The Alt-Right/White Nationalists and ANTIFA
Now, while I might not agree with either of these groups, there is one thing that I will give them, and that is my belief that both of these groups should have the freedom of peaceful assembly and to say whatever they want- as long as they are not threatening violence.

This violent manifestation of belief is something that I cannot support, the only part of this that can be defended with any amount of common sense is the initial protest of the removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee. They have a right to protest this decision. Despite this taking down that statue, or others like it, won’t undo slavery. All it would do is disrespect the people who lived at that time in American history.

Now the violence that erupted is something that I, nor anyone else can or should condone. The fact that either group felt the need to use force in what was supposed to be a peaceful protest to stop the removal of a piece of American history shows a lack of self-control on both sides. Though that comes with the kind of identity politics that both parties have embedded in their ideologies; it also led to the death of one woman and two state troopers, along with over a dozen people injured just shows that neither side of this conflict was in the right.

The Police
I’m one of the first people to defend the cops when they are in the right. They protect and serve our nation well, and I thank them for their service, but in this case, the police did not carry out their full duty. In this case, the police only stayed on the sidelines, containing the protests that were going on. I acknowledge that they were waiting on orders to intervene. However, I still think that they should have gone in as soon as the fighting began because if they had, the riots would have ended earlier, and we might have avoided the three deaths as a result of this clash.

The Media
Now we get to the group that most people aren’t talking about, but certainly hearing from, regarding this situation. When it comes to the press coverage of this event, most publications tend to focus on the presence of white nationalists at the event, and they should, but the problem lies in the fact that they only concentrate on the white nationalists as if they were the sole reason for the riot. Meanwhile, the media ignores  ANTIFA, the other major party involved in the disturbance. They ignore one of the only articulate platform points of the Alt-Right, that is the culture and way of thinking that approves and often encourages the hatred of white people, and more specifically white, heterosexual men. This hatred isn’t for anything they might have done, but because of the color of their skin and their gender. Along with that, they very often gloss over the reason behind the “Unite the Right” rally that was to protest the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue. Because of this, most people that indiscriminately consume mass amounts of commentary without assessing the credibility, tend to think this was just a riot started by white nationalists. When in reality it was a petty, childish fight between the Alt-Right and ANTIFA that tragically resulted in death and injuries.

To conclude this piece, I would like to say, thank you, President Trump, for his initial response to the riot and for calling out all of the sides of this volatile event.

I would also like to offer my condolences to the families of Heather Heyer, H Jay. Cullen, and Burke Bates who lost dear family members due to political violence. Finally, I would like to quote Voltaire, as I believe that this quote describes how the ideology of each of these groups contributed to this event.

I would also like to offer my condolences to the families of the 32-year-old woman, and the two state troopers who lost their lives due to political violence. finally I would like to quote Voltaire, as I believe that this quote describes how the ideology of each of these groups contributed to this event.

“Prejudices are what fools use for reason.” – Voltaire

Matthew Hall | USNN

Author: Matthew Hall

Charlottesville: A Tragedy with Fault on all Sides

by Matthew Hall time to read: 4 min