What happened in Charlottesville on August 11th and 12th was truly despicable. The car attack was an incident of domestic terrorism. It is a moral imperative for everyone, including constitutional conservatives, to call out the KKK, Neo-Nazi, and alt-right groups for what they are: hateful bigots whose politics are not welcome in the conservative movement or in our country. Conservatives have always denounced these groups and need to continue to denounce them regardless of the circumstances. The media reaction or the reaction of leftists to any repudiation of white supremacy doesn’t matter, this is about doing the right thing. The words Ronald Reagan said in 1984 still ring true today, “The politics of racial hatred and religious bigotry practiced by the Klan and others have no place in this country, and are destructive of the values for which America has always stood.”
In the wake of these events, many people have said we must do more to stop the spread of white supremacy in our country and call out white supremacy in all of its forms. I agree. America has a long history of problems with race relations that can’t be summarized in one article. Slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and other discriminatory laws and practices in place over the past two centuries are horrible parts of our nation’s history that should not be forgotten and there is still more work to be done. So, it’s essential that we take an honest assessment of the groups involved in this particular conflict to understand the events that have unfolded last weekend and in the past year.
The “alt-right” is old white supremacist philosophy dressed-up in new packaging. People like Vox Day, Richard Spencer, and Jared Taylor have clearly espoused the views of this group. Jared Taylor, Editor of American Renaissance, explained the group’s philosophy saying, “The alt right accepts that race is a biological fact and that it’s a significant aspect of individual and group identity and that any attempt to create a society in which race can be made not to matter will fail.” So, alt-right groups reject the idea of racial equality and emphasize white identitarianism. They’re aren’t a lot of people who are a part of these groups, despite what the media and alt-right leaders would like you to think. As Ben Shapiro noted in The Daily Wire, “They fill up comments sections at sites like Breitbart, and they email spam, and they prank call people, and they live on 4chan boards, but the vast majority of alt-right anti-Semitic tweets came from just 1,600 accounts.” So why was there so much attention given to these groups by the President, the media, and the left in the past year?
By inaccurately branding constitutional conservatives who believe in liberal ideals of freedom and justice for all people in this country as alt-right, the media and the left only grow and strengthen the white supremacist cause.
The media and the left play light and fast with term “alt-right,” calling anyone who they see as overly conservative the term. Even Jake Tapper, who is not particularly conservative, was called alt-right by Women’s March Leader Linda Sarsour. Certain alt-right sympathizers like Milo Yiannopoulos also like to broaden the definition of the alt-right as defenders of western civilization to make the group seem more acceptable and palatable to mainstream conservatives. So when conservatives are branded as alt-right by the media and the left, more people become open to at least defending the white supremacist group because they are confused about what actually constitutes the alt-right. When folks who have already been called nazis or white supremacists hear a sales pitch from Milo to join the alt-right, they may be more likely to take him up on his offer. By inaccurately branding constitutional conservatives who believe in liberal ideals of freedom and justice for all people in this country as alt-right, the media and the left only grow and strengthen the white supremacist cause.
At the same time, President Trump’s consistent refusal to strongly disavow white supremacist groups has given the alt-right more confidence and power. Trump’s inability to call out these groups in his first statement about Charlottesville and in his press conference a few days later is nothing new. In 2016, he refused to disavow the KKK in an interview with Jake Tapper and also refused to criticize the alt-right for targeting Jewish journalists. Trump also employs Steve Bannon as his Chief Strategist, who transformed the formerly conservative outlet of Breitbart News into “a platform for the alt-right.” Our President seems to have a problem with criticizing and repudiating groups of individuals who support him, no matter who they are. I hope he will sincerely disavow these hateful people in the future and remove any staffers from his White House that would encourage him to not do so.
As the alt-right has grown, groups like antifa have been sprouting up in cities around the country. Similar to alt-right and white supremacist groups, they search for opportunities to engage in violence while “standing against hateful groups.” To be clear, almost all people who protest white supremacist hate groups are not antifa. They are peaceful, law-abiding, and stand against hate without engaging in violence. The violent protesters are a small crowd that make a lot of noise and cause a lot of damage. Antifa’s actions in Berkeley, Sacramento, and Seattle were political violence and not widely condemned by the left. Antifa was also present at Charlottesville, where a New York Times reporter said that they were as “hate-filled” as the alt-right. Antifa’s actions don’t justify the alt-right’s actions and vice versa. We cannot fall into the trap of believing that the enemy of our enemy is our friend. As long as these far-left and far-right groups are allowed to coexist, they will try to make this argument in order to drive up their membership in a cycle of violence by offering a binary option between two extremes.
So if we truly want to combat white supremacy, we must come together to recognize the real enemy. Anyone who refuses to reject the alt-right cannot be accepted in the Republican Party or conservative movement. President Trump must be strong in his rejection of white supremacist groups or be held accountable at the ballot box. The media and the left have to stop misbranding constitutional conservatives as alt-right so all sides can come together on this issue. The left also needs to reject political violence from antifa just as strongly as the right has rejected white supremacy. These tasks may not be accomplished quickly, but for the sake of our country we must come together to fight harmful ideologies that could corrupt our democracy.