A Failing Response to Charlottesville
7 September 2017
I am very sorry and extremely saddened by the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia. Protesters clashed, a young lady was killed, and others injured when a man, apparently intentionally, drove into a group of people. Further, two law enforcement personnel who were monitoring the protest from a helicopter crashed and both died. Then there was the tension and violence between the group that had a permit to protest the pending removal a Robert E. Lee statue and a group wanting to stop that protest. I extend profound sympathy to the family and friends of those who were killed.
The great challenge in moving on from this tremendous tragedy is to do so in a fashion that advances America along a path to being a far better country…a country united in love and peace. Dr. Ben Carson, referring to the uproar over President Trump’s comments on what happened in Charlottesville, is quoted in an article by Lisa Rein titled, “Ben Carson calls criticism of Trump’s Charlottesville response ‘little squabbles’ being ‘blown out of proportion’”:
Ben Carson is on point. It troubles me beyond description that there seems to be very little logical thought happening in America or in the world. I realize that is a rather bold statement. Consider the facts in the Charlottesville disaster: A group gets a permit for, and organizes, a march to protest the planned removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, Confederate general who was commander of the Army of Northern Virginia and was later given command of all the Southern armies. The permitted group included members of some organizations that clearly promote hate, racism, anti-Semitism, and other beliefs that have no place in America.
What happened in Charlottesville, and the follow-on, demonstrates the truth in Carson’s statement. Actions and reactions, to this point in time, say our response as a nation is failing. It is failing in great part because rational thought is a rare commodity in America and in the world. Consider what the primary focus has been since the Charlottesville events of 12 August 2017. It has been statements made by President Trump regarding that horrific situation. In his first statement, he referred to “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.” There was a condemning outcry from politicians, many in the media, and just about anybody who had access to a microphone, social media, or the ability to call a talk show. The major complaint was that the president did not call known hate groups by name. In a second statement two days after the first, he named the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists and declared them “repugnant.” That statement was better received, but characterized as being made too late. The third statement came in a press conference during which the president returned to his contention that there was “blame” on “both sides.” His response in that press conference heightened the outcry. The demand was that he only assign blame to the groups that marched with a permit. That would have placed no responsibility on those persons who, without a permit, showed up in Charlottesville to protest the protesters.
On the matter of blame, it seems to me that President Trump spoke truth, but did so in an atmosphere where any truth contrary to the liberal agenda is simply not allowed. Consider that on that Saturday in Charlottesville, there were counter-protesters who confronted protesters in a threatening manner. Some screamed derogatory words, as did the protesters. There were violent physical encounters between members of the two groups. When Jason Kessler, organizer of the statue protest, attempted to hold a press conference on Sunday, counter-protesters forced him from the park where that press conference was to be held. He was escorted from the park by law enforcement personnel.
The following Saturday, a small group of people gathered in Boston Massachusetts for a “Free Speech Rally.” Approximately 40,000 counter-protesters showed up. Because of their presence, the rally was ended early and the few attendees were transported from the area in police vans. In an article titled, “After Media Calls Boston Rally Peaceful, Police Department Sends Out Tweets Telling Different Story,” Justin Charters writes:
Various sources reported that Boston police confirmed that people were throwing urine, bottles, rocks, and other projectiles at officers. These would have been counter-protesters.
These incidents, and others, say to me that President Trump is correct in contending that the blame for what happened in Charlottesville extends beyond those groups he listed in his second statement. What alarms and disgusts me is that the focus is almost totally on his statements and hardly any attention is given to why Charlottesville even happened. Where are the thoughtful efforts to answer that question? I must have read 30 articles and scanned many more in gathering information for this column. I only saw a few lines that gave the question any attention. One was an article titled, “What are the facts behind Donald Trump’s claims about the Charlottesville violence?” posted at www.telegraph.co.uk:
Let me be crystal clear. I abhor what happened in Charlottesville on 12 August. However, my call, like that of Dr. Ben Carson, is for thoughtful evaluation of what happened and why. Only then can we move to resolve these issues and be a unified country. One does not have to look very far to find conditions that very likely feed Kessler’s claim of “an anti-white climate” and the “need for white people to have advocacy.” The list is almost limitless: Ferguson; Baltimore; the shooting of Republicans on a ballfield in Virginia; police officers gunned down in Dallas and elsewhere; Black Lives Matter stoking the fires of racial hatred and division; a mob unlawfully destroys a statue of a Confederate soldier in Durham, NC. Where was/is the outrage in these instances?
America and the world need people who will speak truth and act on it. Newt Gingrich made a statement regarding the push to remove statues and memorials that some people find offensive. I think his comment describes a destructive malady that not only explains the general response of supposed leaders to the statue crisis, but their usual response anytime speaking unpopular truth is required. As reported by Joe Crowe in an article titled, “Gingrich: Mayors Who Remove Confederate Statues Are ‘Pandering’”, Gingrich is quoted as saying: ‘“Mayors in cities with majority-black populations who order the removal of statues that note Confederate history are ‘pandering’ in the wake of the Charlottesville, Va. violence.”’ This has become the political rule in America. That is, in the face of societal pressure, forget truth and what is right for people; go with what is expected to win elections.
We are failing to respond appropriately to Charlottesville. It is because people who engage in reasoned thought and have the “guts” to speak and act on the resulting truths from that process are rare. Not only are they rare, but they are also an endangered species. Ben Carson is right: