A lot of people are spilling ink on the violence in Charlottesville where white supremacists gathered to “Unite the Right,” ostensibly in protest of the removal of Confederate statues. I’m not sure I can do much better, but I feel like I ought to post something here anyway. Those who feel some affinity for the movement but aren’t ready to go full on Nazi are espousing some variant of a “Both Sides” argument. Either they want to blame violence that erupted on the counter-protesters or they point to some incidence of violence that took place at an event with a message they did not favor.
It’s fine and appropriate to be against violence. However, it’s a little telling if “All Violence Matters” flies out of your mouth easily but you choke a little bit when trying to spit out the idea that white supremacists have uniquely bad and dangerous ideas and they are bad people for holding those ideas. If you’re a Quaker or a pacifist or something and messages of nonviolence are a passion of yours, I’ll give you a pass — but that’s not what I’m seeing.
And it’s no surprise that these guys (and it seems to be almost entirely male) had an event that came to violence. White supremacists like to talk tough and invoke violent metaphors. Judging from the things you see out of the broad overlap between “Men’s Rights” activists and white supremacists, you see a toxic view of masculinity that regards nonviolent responses to challenges as emasculating. Their beliefs and fragile egos make them almost uniquely unable to co-exist with other ideas or turn the other cheek when confronted.
So, sure, violence is bad. That can be, and perhaps should be, said every day. But this event gives us a particularly relevant opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to opposing fascists like the ones we saw trying to “Unite the Right.” People celebrating the Nazis in defense of statues of rebel traitors are uniquely un-American.