Update: Officials in Charlottesville appear to have pulled the permit for “Unite the Right” protestors to demonstrate in Emancipation park. However, rally organizers have indicated they are determined to move forward as planned. This means Unite the Right is likely to end up being an illegal demonstration, creating skyrocketing chances for unrest.
On Saturday, August 12th, a “Unite the Right” rally has been planned in Charlottesville, VA, by Alt-Right and White Nationalist organizers. The premise is to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Army figure Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park, formerly known as Lee Park. Hard-left groups such as Antifa and Black Lives Matter have pledged to stage a counter-protest, but many people who place more moderately on the political spectrum have also stated their intent to attend.
The potential for violence is high, and despite their efforts, the local city council has been unable to stop the rally from occurring due to the constitutional right to assemble — even if you’re a white supremacist. This is important to understand. In any civil war, venn diagrams form in which factions that disagree strongly on certain things still join forces, simply because they perceive a common enemy. This has led to more moderate conservatives joining in on the rally to defend the First Amendment, even when that amendment protects speech that espouses racist viewpoints with which they disagree. As a result, we are seeing extremist Alt-Right groups join forces with more run-of-the-mill Republicans and Trump supporters. Of course, this is one of the claimed objectives of “Unite the Right” to begin with — to bring together moderates and extremists by focusing on any common ground.
On the left, we are seeing the same phenomenon. Not every liberal is a bike lock-wielding
member of Antifa, but more moderate progressives have pledged to join ranks with extremist counter-protestors due to their belief that Trump could be the next Hitler, and his followers the next Nazi Party.
As a result, on both sides of the spectrum, those with more moderate viewpoints have made a conscious choice to merge with much more extremist factions who happen to share certain key ideas of their side. This new expansion of America’s Left-Right extremism venn diagram has been fueled by the news media’s emotional gasoline, and vastly increases the likelihood of an outbreak of violence either at this demonstration or in the near future similar to what we saw in Berkeley some months ago.
Of course, the phenomenon of an expanding venn diagram also “confirms” each side’s suspicions: in the case of the left, that all Trump supporters are white supremacists, and in the case of the right, that all liberals are smug, freedom-hating communists. This adds further momentum, causing the extremism venn diagram to get even bigger and fuel more of its own growth.
We can only hope the demonstrations remain peaceful. But we’ll be on-scene to document everything and report back, so check in again after Saturday for our upcoming video of what is sure to be a tense day of protest.