“The thing about us fascists is, it’s not that we don’t believe in freedom of speech. You can say whatever you want. We’ll just throw you in an oven.” — Peter Tefft, white nationalist.
Which side are you on? When one side is composed of Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists, and the other is made up of people attempting to stop them, the answer should be simple: not with the Nazis. But the president of the United States has infamously taken a different view, characterizing the counter-protesters who squared off with Nazis in Charlottesville as having incited the deadly violence the city saw last weekend. Trump also assured the press that there were “fine people” at the Charlottesville convening of white nationalists and other proponents of ethnic cleansing. By lending political cover to his brutish, racist fandom, Trump has both emboldened his followers and further normalized white nationalism in the public consciousness. But amid our ubiquitous condemnations of Trump’s “both sides” rhetoric, the left has largely erased the fact that another group beat Trump to the punch: Respectable Liberals.
Social media has been awash in leftist condemnations of antifa and other counter-protesters who disrupted white supremacist events in Charlottesville last weekend. Many liberals have also criticized protesters in Durham, North Carolina, who removed a Confederate statue on Monday. Liberals who condemned the actions of the Durham protesters stated that the protesters’ cause was just, but that there are “better ways” (i.e., legislative solutions).
When I hear such arguments, I can’t help but wonder, where were these movement critics during all of the years that the Durham statue, a monument to slavery and hatred, stood undisturbed? Where were their legislative solutions then? How many Respectable Liberals have walked past Confederate monuments each day, without any thought of what it would take to bring them down?
In the years…