Freedoms of expression include permitted rallies, but I absolutely condemn as totally unacceptable – to be acted against by authority and leadership – the idea that a freely permitted rally can include hate-speech, open-carry uniformed militia, symbolic support for “parties” whose policies include hate. It is outrageous that such parties are permitted in US society generally, and not acted against by enforcement specifically. (This implies an “arms-race” of legislation on proscribed parties and symbols, but the principle must be established. Public statuary of historical people is a separate matter for civil governance.)
Having said that:
I do condemn the (so-called) “alt-left” – the anarchic anti-establishment rent-a-mob that jumps on every peaceful and otherwise valid protest bandwagon. They pollute and undermine the freedoms they depend on. The fact that they use uniform dress, fear and masked-anonymity in their deliberately disruptive participation – the kind that escalates to anti-property looting etc – should be stamped on hard by authority.
No idea if there were any at Charlottesville.
I can of course believe and understand that otherwise peaceful counter protesters might turn threateningly abusive towards a hateful rally but I don’t condone it. I condemn that too. When we were anti-Nazi-League protesters in the 70’s the point was to defy the threats of the assembled fascists not to physically block or threaten. Prevention by force is by the authorities and the terms of permitting.
Freedoms also come with responsibility and respect for civil authority. Planned and coordinated law-breaking can be part of a protest, may be the point of some protests, but that right comes with the responsibility to accept prosecution in enforcement of current law – until such time as laws change.
Finally, I don’t call the car-attack on the anti-protest crowd an act of “terrorism” – it was part of an otherwise authorised event. It was simply an illegal – criminal, murderous – action by one of the otherwise expected participants. A failure of policing by the permitted parties and authorities. Terrorism implies violent threat to otherwise normal public activity. By definition a permitted protest event is not normal.
Nick Cohen on the bonkers US freedom of armed expression.
— Nick Cohen (@NickCohen4) August 16, 2017
And – Trump vs Witness ? Not a question of “equivalence”. Explicitly hateful and violent expression and behaviour met with physical resistance. It’s the (alt-left) “resistance” taking the law to it’s own hands that undermines the (enormous) strength of their (correct) argument. Collect evidence and drag law enforcement in FFS. We all know the alt-right is despicable (deplorable, someone said already). What fewer accept is the the alt-left are also a – different but related – problem. (Again, I’ve seen no evidence of any orchestrated – masked, uniformed, opportunistic – alt-left in the Charlottesville events. If you are aware of any, let me know.)