Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
I tend to agree with this editorial, suggesting that the Forces of Good should stop counter-protesting when the neo-Nazis and white supremacists come to your town. The writer and I see the odds of confrontation going way up when there are two highly amped groups facing off, and since it’s usually the militia-lovin’ Nazis who are armed (and bearing medieval shields and SWAT-quality helmets) you can bet there will be blood.
The urge to get out there and be counted is powerful. I understand completely. But there’s an unfortunate association in the eyes of the less-involved public between the two sides. Both appear keyed-up and angry. Both are waving sticks around or flipping the bird, faces distorted with rage. And when the cops fail to keep the two groups apart, it’s hard to tell who’s responsible for the violence. You might have seen the image of a counter-protester shooting a column of fire at the Nazis (he lit the contents of an aerosol can; it wasn’t a flame thrower), and though that might have been done in self-defense it sure doesn’t look good on TV.
As the editorial points out, the number of Nazi protesters in Charlottesville was puny, considering the hype. Most estimates land in the neighborhood of 500. If there hadn’t been a counter-protest, the thing would have fizzled like a dud and we’d have earned mocking rights. Instead, the intensity of the media coverage gave the white power crowd a voice they wouldn’t have otherwise had.
In the aftermath, I girded myself and listened to about ten minutes of Rush Limbaugh one afternoon, and all he could talk about was the violent “antifa” agitators. He kept using the term “alt-left” and acted as if the media had conspired to keep images of their bad acts off the air. Even though the cop-baiting antifascists were few, blowhards on the right are going to amplify their antics and make it seem like the violence is indeed coming “from both sides.”
Better to hold our own protests, independent of whatever the Nazi twerps do. Social ostracism is more effective as a way to minimize these knuckleheads. They get relegated to their basement meetings, draping themselves in the confederate flag, and nobody gets hurt.
Yesterday we happened to be driving past our GOP congressman’s local office, and there was a well-attended protest out front, with maybe a hundred concerned citizens waving signs and airing their criticisms of the rep’s pro-Trump record. We were delighted to see it, and a lot of people driving past (in this very red district) were honking and showing their support.
That’s the way to do it. No head-to-head confrontations. No violence. No martyrs. There’s too much work to do for us to be drawn into bar brawls with skinheads.