Looking at a French nationalist website Boulevard Voltaire this morning, I notice a repetition of the conventional American media account of what occurred in Charlottesville on Saturday. The news commentary explained that a white racist had run down and killed with a vehicle a thirty-two-year-old “anti-racist” demonstrator, Heather Heyer, while injuring other anti-racists who were protesting a “Unite the Right” rally in downtown Charlottesville. The supposed occasion for the demonstration, the removal of a twenty-six foot statue of Robert E. Lee, did not seem to interest the French commentator, although presumably if French anti-fascists were calling for dismantling statues of Charles de Gaulle or Joan of Arc all over France, the writer might have reacted differently. As an American observer of these events, who makes no bones about his utter revulsion for contemporary American “liberal” and “conservative” commentaries (which I find mostly indistinguishable), I think there’s more to the story of what went on in Charlottesville on Saturday than our authorized political sides want us to believe.
First of all, I find no heroes emerging from these events. The police showed no ability or perhaps no willingness to keep the two sides separated; and when they met it was inevitable that these armed partisans who hated each other’s guts would clash. Although the dismantling of Lee’s statue (in May a judge placed a six-month stay on this outrage) may have been only the pretext for obnoxious youth to raise holy Hell, the removal of Confederate statues and the renaming of parks and streets commemorating Confederate commanders is sheer lunacy. It should be opposed by all possible legal means. The NAACP and leftist cranks like Max Boot who push this agenda are the American equivalent of the Taliban. Are we supposed to do the PC cringe again when the usual pests demand that we remove the names of Jefferson, Madison and Washington from every city in this country because our country’s Founders owned slaves?
As for the bloody clash in Charlottesville, it’s impossible for me to read the account provided by neocon princeling John Podhoretz in the New York Post this morning without losing my breakfast. The villain for Podhoretz (as it always is these days when’s he’s not attacking critics of the Likud Party) is Donald Trump who refused “to denounce Nazis and white supremacists unqualifiedly and by name.” It seems that Trump had the “shamelessness” to suggest that there were two sides involved in the clash in Charlottesville. (Donald Trump has since unloaded all his fire on Pod’s target.) The anti-fascist and BLM protestors, according to Podhoretz’s doctored narrative, were merely “responding” to hate; and the president whom Podhoretz wouldn’t back against Hillary and whom he continues to denounce “refused to name the evil in our midst,” thereby showing “the behavior of a man whose moral sense is stunted.” On Saturday evening, Fox-news offered an interview by Julie Banderas of a Weekly Standard senior editor who scolded Trump for not treating the Altright in the same denunciatory manner as ISIS. Both, according to Ms. Torrance, were equally dangerous terrorist organizations.
Needless to say, I’ve never heard our authorized conservative opposition vent the same ferocious denunciations they’re now showing on anti-fascist vandals or on the Bernie Sanders supporter who tried to kill a crew of Republican Congressmen while practicing for a baseball game in Arlington, Virginia. Nor did the authorized leftist media agonize in the same way about left-wing extremism as Fox-news commentators did when they began screeching on Saturday night about right-wing dangers that are comparable to ISIS. The Left acted according to script, when their commentators tried to blame the attempted annihilation of Republican Congressmen on our right-wing extremist president.
But our bogus Right couldn’t leave their pandering to the Left with calls for special vigilance against a pervasive right-wing danger. On Fox’s Judge Jeanine segment we had the pleasure of listening to various Republican Congressmen from Virginia defining their “conservatism” as some kind of diversitarian globalist fantasy. One Latino Republican Congressman described the US as the world’s greatest multicultural success. All the Republican interviewees gave the impression that Charlottesville had been a sleepy serene college town, like a throwback to Monty Wooly’s “Halls of Ivy,” before it was invaded by neo-Nazis. These saccharine comments revealed little about the reality of life in an area controlled by the PC Left and led by a bona fide leftist radical from New York City, Mayor Mike Signer.
I’ve also come to doubt that the group organized by Richard Spencer et al was more responsible for violence than the anti-fascist side. From the film I’ve just seen it seems conclusive that leftist thugs were at least as ready to rumble as were the white nationalists and neo-Nazis. Whether or not the Left initiated the fisticuffs (and there’s a high probability that it did) those who led it were far from naïve humanitarians who were “shocked” by white racists. Moreover, both sides, including the white nationalists, integrated into their demonstrations basically decent people, who were simply reacting against something they found intolerable, such as a PC police state or neo-Nazi symbols. Such people were used by others on both sides who were looking for trouble. And the police did little to prevent it.
Finally I would observe as a representative of the independent Right that Richard Spencer and his friends did us a horrible disservice by contributing to the confrontation that took place on Saturday. Much of what Richard and other members of the Altright say about the growing indistinguishability of our authorized Right and authorized Left is entirely on the mark. But the way to combat this deplorable situation is not to team up with Nazis and encourage demonstrators to come armed to Charlottesville to protest the leftist Taliban. One has to create a counter-media to what our shared enemies have done and be willing to accept decent people, whatever their race, to combat left-wing totalitarians and fake conservative enablers.
The war for civilization is almost entirely between groups of whites, in fact mostly white Christians. The white Left has drawn in other groups, but mostly as auxiliary forces. The same battle would be going on, as it has been in much of Europe, if we were only dealing with white opponents. None of the multiculturalists I have known has been black; and calling white multicultural fanatics “race traitors” is a gross oversimplification because the object of leftist hate goes well beyond their own racial group. It now includes all normal people who have not been reconstructed by the managerial therapeutic state or are fighting the scourge of Political Correctness. At the very least, Richard and his comrades have diverted us from this fight and compounded this injury by playing a role in the violence that should not have occurred.
I can’t help asking this rhetorical question, at least parenthetically at the end. According to white nationalist protocol, am I supposed to ally with white cultural leftists against the very black African Cardinal Robert Sarah, who spoke yesterday in Brittany? The good cardinal affirmed his reverence for the Vendean martyrs who fought for their king and church against the evil French Revolution. Needless to say the ideology that Cardinal Sarah decried was far less radically leftist than what our fake conservatives proclaim as their global democratic agenda. The struggle to restore a decent society that we’re in cannot and should not be reduced to racial differences.
Paul Gottfried [send him mail] is Horace Raffensperger Professor Emeritus of Humanities at Elizabethtown College and author of Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt, The Strange Death of Marxism, and Conservatism in America: Making Sense of the American Right. His latest books are Fascism: The Career of a Concept and Encounters: My Life with Nixon, Marcuse, and Other Friends and Teachers.