Top 10 Misconceptions About Charlottesville

1. Let’s start with the obvious. Charlottesville, Virginia, and Charlotte, North Carolina, are actually two completely different places in the world. The flood of concern and good wishes for those of us here in Charlottesville is wonderful and much appreciated. That people can watch TV news about Charlottesville, remember that I live in Charlottesville, and send me their kind greetings addressed to the people of Charlotte is an indication of how common the confusion is. It’s not badly taken; I have nothing against Charlotte. It’s just a different place, seventeen times the size. Charlottesville is a small town with the University of Virginia, a pedestrian downtown street, and very few monuments. The three located right downtown are for Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and the Confederacy. Neither Lee nor Jackson had anything to do with Charlottesville, and their statues were put up in whites-only parks in the 1920s.

2. The racists who have begun coming to Charlottesville to campaign for governor, garner attention, threaten violence, engage in violence, and commit murder are almost all from outside Charlottesville, and extremely unwelcome here. Charlottesville is a slightly left-of-center, Democratic Party area. Most people don’t rally for good causes or against bad ones. Most people don’t want the Lee statue taken down. (Or at least they didn’t until it became a gathering point for neo-Confederates.) Most people want other memorials added to public space to diversify. And most people don’t want white supremacists coming to town with their hatred and their violence.

3. Armed attacks are not covered by the First Amendment. I can and have argued at length for the strategic — never mind legal — need to respect odious free speech, and — more importantly — to respect and build bridges of understanding to the troubled people preaching hatred. But the human right to free speech is not found in a gun or a torch or a can of pepper spray any more than in corporate advertising. When we hold peace rallies in U.S. cities we are sometimes forbidden to bring posters on wooden poles. We have to use hollow cardboard tubes to hold up our signs, because — you know — advocates of nonviolence can be so violent. Yet racist, nationalist, white supremacist agitators are allowed to bring an arsenal with which to attack the general public and counter-demonstrators! Whatever that is, it is not free speech. I’d be willing to say it’s closer to enabling terrorism. All media habits of “balance” and “even handedness” become lies when respect for rights, and blame for deaths and injuries, are based on the notion that premeditated violence and threats of violence and the carrying of weapons are not worth noticing.

4. Charlottesville’s mayor voted against taking down the Lee statue, even if he now sounds on NBC News as if it had been his idea. Seen from a certain angle, that’s progress. I want people to get on board with the idea of taking down all racist monuments and all war monuments, and this one is both. But it is a misconception to imagine that the decision to take down General Lee came from the top or that it came without extensive public input. It’s true that City Council member Kristin Szakos publicly proposed the dominance of our public space by Confederate statues as a problem, and that City Council member Wes Bellamy pushed for that. But it was the national movement of Black Lives Matter, and local activism, that created the demand in the first place, as well as making Bellamy a member of City Council. The City held very lengthy and public and extensive hearings and gathering of facts and views. A Blue Ribbon Commission produced a report. And when the City Council voted to take down Lee (but leave up Jackson) it did so because City Council Member Bob Fenwick joined Szakos and Bellamy in a 3-2 vote, in which Mayor Mike Signer was on the losing and cowardly side. Because that is typical of him, we should be wary of fale perceptions of him as a leader, until he really becomes one. It’s possible that had he shown the leadership of the Mayor of New Orleans in taking down statues and explaining why, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

5. The military and militarized police are not here to protect you. An armed force on the streets and in the air of Charlottesville crashed a helicopter, tragically killing two people. But what else did it accomplish? It heightened tensions. It reduced turnout by those opposed to violence and racism. Its aggression toward anti-racists following the KKK rally in July contributed to fears of what it would do this time. The Charlottesville police do not need the mine-resistant vehicle they keep in their garage, because we do not have land mines. We do not need our skies filled — including on the Friday before the rally — with military helicopters. We do not need tanks on our streets for godsake. We need to disarm those seeking to exercise their First Amendment Rights, not arm someone else. The helicopter never should have crashed because it never should have flown. And every individual who assaulted and threatened people with pepper spray, torches, sticks, fists, or an automobile, should have been welcomed to nonviolently, without guns or other weaponry, speak their mind — and to meet and converse with those opposing their views.

6. The events in Charlottesville, like foreign and domestic emoluments, additional forms of financial corruption, Muslim bans, illegal wars, threats to North Korea, voter intimidation, environmental destruction, and sexual assault, make up yet another article of impeachment for Donald Trump awaiting only the awakening of a House of Representatives. Incitement of acts of violence is a crime, and it is certainly a high-crime-and-misdemeanor, the Constitutional phrase refering to an abuse of power that may or may not be criminal. Donald Trump went out of his way to persuade racists that they were free to engage in their racism openly. Numerous racists, including some of those who have been active in Charlottesville, have openly communicated their understanding of that presidential permission. Those sitting silently by in this moment are condoning racism. So are those not advocating for impeachment and removal. Yes I am aware of the general horror of Mike Pence, but a country that impeached and removed presidents would be a very different country in which the next president would have to behave or face impeachment in turn. Fear of the next person will look ever weaker as grounds for allowing the current person to destroy things as he proceeds with his destruction. I’m further aware that the D.C. Democratic leadership makes Mayor Signer’s cynicism look like child’s play, and that Nancy Pelosi wants Trump around more than the Republicans do, so that the Democrats can “oppose” him. But I’m not asking you to believe he’s going to be impeached without your doing anything. I’m asking you to compel his impeachment.

7. The answer to racist violence is not anti-racist violence or passivism, and the idea that those are the only two choices is ridiculous. Charlottesville’s and the United States’ resistance to racism would be far stronger with disciplined nonviolence. The behavior of a few anti-racists in July allowed the corporate media to depict the KKK as victims. There is nothing the alt-right crowd longs for more in this moment than some act of violence against them that would permit pundits to start trumpeting the need for liberals to be more tolerant of racists, and to proclaim that the real problem is those reckless radicals who want to tear down statues. We need nonviolent activism, and we need a thousand times more of it. We need to initiate the next rally in Charlottesville ourselves.

8. Tearing down statues is not opposing history. Charlottesville has three Confederate war statues, two (pro) genocide of the Native Americans statues, one World War I statue, one Vietnam War memorial, one statue of Thomas Jefferson (whose words and deeds, I’m sorry to say, agreed almost entirely with the latest racists), and one statue of Homer (poet of war). And that’s it. We have no memorials, whether monumental statuary or otherwise, to a single educator, artist, musician, athlete, author, or activst, nothing for Native American history, slavery, civil rights, women’s rights, or ANYTHING ELSE. Almost all of our history is missing. Putting up a giant statue for racism and war is not a step for history. Taking it down is not a blow to history. It could be a step forward, in fact. Even the renaming of Lee Park as Emancipation Park is educational. Creating a memorial to emancipation, and one to civil rights, and one to school integration, and one to peace would be more so.

9. The Lee statue is still there, not because racists rally around it, but because legislators glorify war. While neither side has any interest in opposing or even particularly in promoting war, and while the national and local media have gone through endless contortions to avoid mentioning it, the court case holding up the removal of Robert E. Lee and the horse he never rode in on is about war glorification. A state law that may or may not apply to this statue forbids taking down war memorials in Virginia. For fair and balanced free-speech advocates I should note that no similar law forbids taking down peace monuments. Also there really aren’t any to take down if you wanted to. This is a symptom of a culture that has come to accept endless war and the militarization of local police, and to report on rallies of “white nationalists” without ever considering that there may be a problem with both of those words.

 10. As I’ve written in recent months, many sympathizers with the racist cause are understandable. This is a quite different thing from being acceptable or praise worthy. To say that someone is understandable is to say that you can understand them. They’re not monsters acting on inexplicable subhuman impulses any more than do the people they hate or the people against whom the United States wages wars typically behave that way. These racists live in one of the most unequal societies ever known, and they don’t live at the top of it. They hear about endless efforts to alleviate injustice toward all sorts of wronged groups that don’t include them. They notice the cultural acceptability in comedy shows and elsewhere of mocking white people. They seek a group identity. They seek others to blame. They seek others to place beneath themselves. And they hear hardly a peep out of Washington D.C. about creating universal rights and supports for everyone, as in Scandinavia. Instead they hear that hatred and violence and racism come with the Presidential seal of approval.

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  • zartan

    Racism is the Work of Government to keep people divided. They sow discord and use propaganda in media to make people resent one-another: Black/White/Brown, RICH/POOR, Welfare/Workers, GAY/Striaght … YOU NAME IT, Government owns it! This is obvious. This keeps the Slaves from uniting and going against Government; because the are too busy fighting among themselves! Nevertheless, people have Constitutional rights –so long as they are not hurting anyone — nobody has a right to lable them as “SUB HUMANS” and deprive them of their foolish beliefs! You know, all of you: “PEACE PEOPLE” look REAL STUPID, because I can paint all of you “correctly” as the Identical of what you claim to hate and are non-the-less victims of your own stupdity. If you were really tolerent, than you would have passed the test of tolerating those who test YOU. It was not necessary to protest a White Group; because that was just looking “and asking” for trouble. No different, than if Said White Group decided to protest NAACP –or PEACE– gatherings! Mankind is Immature beyond Comprehension and I blame that God of Yours! All of YOU, combined, will never get it!

    Congratulations on Your Hypocrisy.

    Again, America, You all have BIGGER Problems, because you “ALL” Voluntarily Pay Tax to the US government. SO, YOU ALL BETTER PRAY that THE US never loses a MAJOR WAR, because if it does … YOU, Voluntary Taxpayers, are all Responsible for the behavior of YOUR government. The Constitutional Rights YOU have can be used Against you.

    Also, You better PRAY that there is NO GOD, because I do not want to FACE “IT” with US TAXPAYER STAMPED IN BLOOD ON MY FOREHEAD!

    wake up and smell the coffee, america!

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    • Wildeforce

      Agreed, divide and conquer is a very powerful tool… and has been since the beginning of time.

      . Yes, our gov’t is a crap show and it’s so very deeply entrenched. Not much can be done about it now. To quote V “truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.”

      What I take issue with in your post is that it seems the world always talks guano about the American people. As mentioned above, it is our fault. However there a very few places in the world where things are all sunshine and lollipops. All kinds of craziness is going on in Asia, The U.K., the middle east, Central America, and on and on and on. It’s all good, put the blame on us, just don’t forget to look in the mirror.

      • ZARTAN

        I am an American, a Citizen, fifth generation, so I have authority to bash America!

        The US Government has destroyed this country and is Destroying the Earth. The People, the most powerful on earth, because they Actually have a Constitution that Allows them to Bear Arms, Protest, Militia, and Even … WAIT … WAIT … “CITIZENS ARREST,” which allows the “USE of FORCE by the PEOPLE” to Arrest Government for Crimes against the Citizens and Humanity. No Other Nation has Such, so it is a BIG DEAL.

        In Addition, Americans pay Tax Voluntarily, or that is how it is legally titled by the Governemnt that Represents the People. This is a Legal Matter: Therefore, the people are “directly responsible” for every action of Government. This Includes, the Millions Murdered by Corporate Government WARs in the name of Greed.

        Yes, we are all Responsible, and I advocate shutting down WALL STREET, by Protest, until the NWO Totally Collapses or they OBEY THE PEOPLE. 1-Million Proper Protesters “who are not Little GIRLS” on Wall Street will OWN THEM. The Military and Police can do nothing with such Numbers! They simply go home and hide.

        The Plan is absolute and will work, because if they Cannot Profit because Wall Street is Under Siege, Capital Flight and Downgrades, will bring them to bankruptcy. The US government cannot afford an Interest rate spike. They will therefore be forced to OBEY the PEOPLE.

        So … The American People Decide what goes on in ZIAR, because their Global Military has effects on the people of ZIAR. However, OWN wall street and ZIAR gets a Break. The American people, due to their inaction, are responsbile for most of the misery in this world courtesy of the Government they support. From Afghanistan to ZIAR … THE US MILITARY is there Stealing, Killing and Detroying for its Corporate Bankers!

        The American people are the Worlds Only Hope … Short of Total Nuclear War, only the American people can bring about REAL PEACE. This is why everyone bashes Americans! Americans have Power, but fail to use it.

  • Ministro Gomes

    Just apologetics in the last paragraph…
    I like the way you go and criticise people who value racial integrity, which is fine for everyone except for whites to practice.
    In Saudi Arabia it’s not ok to be a non Muslim, in Israel is not ok to be Jewish(they discriminate against christians too), South Africa is blatantly anti white, and is practicing racial discrimination(revenge against apartheid?)
    But some how in the west it’s not ok to be white and to what to preserve Christian white culture?
    You are a failure as a human, above all we protect our own, then we worry about outsiders.
    First my family, then my friends, then my community then my country and if there is space left I will worry about anyone else, and this isn’t selfish, survival isn’t selfish, it just is and to call out racists, fat rights, ‘ists, ‘itics, phobics etc is just a lame way to disregard people’s concerns in their communities in favor of some random utopia that will never manifest itself, because as soon as there is nothing to fight for the human animal becomes restless and fights for nothing
    Look at you fighting for the annihilation of your culture…

  • artguerrilla

    1. swansong’s blind allegiance to his chosen tribe is a consistent downfall…
    .
    2. I will cite two issues of the hypocritical premises in this op/ed:
    .
    A. IF libtards clutching pearls and taking to the fainting couches over any/all statues, plaques, highway signs, obelisks, bridges, roads, parks, cornerstones, books, paintings, and building/place names which DARE to mention ANY disapproved person, meme, or concept UNACCEPTABLE to a tiny minority of loudmouthed, self-appointed, (PSEUDO) morality thought-police becomes reality, there will be nothing left to it but to have EVERYTHING numbered, no names allowed… no statues for ANYTHING, for surely NO ONE is truly deserving according to your lights…
    one would think such highly evolved (sic) paragons of virtue and all that is good and holy in the world, would have a little more tolerance and forebearance in their exalted and beatific state of being…
    you would think that, but you would be wrong : they are entitled whiny bitches complaining they don’t get to sit on the A deck while the titanic sinks…
    .
    B. ‘outside agitators’… gee, let me guess, any/all lefty ‘outside agitators’ are on the side of the angels, and any/all righty ‘outside agitators’ are the devil’s spawn, amirite ? ? ?
    um, ANY thing about that implied premise that strikes you as, oh, gee, I don’t know, just the least little bit hypocritical ? ? ? (perhaps more importantly overall : WHY should it take a moron’s post-in-a-bottle seen by virtually no one to point out this ELEMENTARY principle of fairness and equity ? ? ?)
    .
    mote/beam, dingleberry…
    .
    you ain’t going to bring down the 1% of Empire by fighting 50% of the 99%, flapdoodle…

    • wehaveseenthisb4

      The truth of Lee remains. Lee was a traitor to his West Point classmates, to his oath as a member of the US Army and to the nation. I know he felt bad about it and the deaths he had a hand in, he should have. That’s why his plantation in now Arlington National Cemetery. Those who support statues of Lee and others like him are counter-insurgents who refuse to accept the results of the Civil War yet remain in this country and continue to struggle for a cause lost long ago and decided against. Good times.

      • Bob

        As in all wars and revolutions, the winners decide who gets called traitors and terrorists.

    • ZARTAN

      Excellent Point. I am sick of People siding with the left, because they are just as racist! They Hypocrisy is Too Much! These Silly Little Hypocrites will never understand it was the government “and its media” that sponsored Racism, to keep the SLAVES divided, so that they could never stand up to Government.

  • Bob

    If the counter protesters had just stayed at home there would have been no trouble. They are the ones who didn’t respect free speech this time, and they are the ones who instigated the violence. Why not wait until this rally was over and stage your own rally? The problem is not the speech. The problem is suppression of speech and the willingness of thugs to promote violence in order to suppress someone else’s rights. However much I disagree with racist opinions, I see no reason to try to force them to keep such opinions to themselves. In fact, I think this is dangerous and counterproductive.

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    • Brabantian

      Maybe however, people ‘staying home’ would not have prevented, what many increasingly see as an incident that was planned / staged, with dodgy details about leading event figures coming out, media deception about police actions etc … Here’s two short, doubt-inducing video exhibits to consider, about the Charlottesville ‘Crash-o-Caust’, as neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin had labelled it on his now-apparently-shut-down Daily Stormer website

      Drone footage which makes the crash event look staged & fake, you see nearby streets amazingly empty except for the ‘movie set’ group gathered where the ‘accident’ happened, other streets blocked, a ready fire truck there doing the blocking … 4min00sec video here
      https://vimeo.com/229701045

      And re this car crash allegedly by ‘James Fields’, talented stunt-driver-in-reverse-gear, here is a bizarre live media encounter with ‘Samantha Bloom, mother of James Fields’ … Note the fake vs sincere quality of voices, & the body language of ‘mom’ in her wheelchair, at the moment when she supposedly first learns from a media reporter live on camera, that her ‘son’ is accused of driving a car into a crowd & killing someone … and see how quickly ‘Samantha Bloom’ chuckles & calmly shifts the topic … bad actress with a poseur ‘journalist’?… video 1min10sec
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eN8owQR8d-M

  • TimeToWakeUPAmerica

    There really is but ONE QUESTION to be asked. And, it is this:

    Who Gave Us Western Civilization? (Athens, Greece)

    Was it Asians? Arabs? Africans? Latinos? Khazars? (Think about it.)

    The answer to THAT question does NOT require a degree in “Rocket Science”.

    “The Revolution won’t happen with guns, rather it will happen incrementally, year by year, generation by generation. We will gradually infiltrate their educational institutions and their political offices, transforming
    them slowly into Marxist entities as we move towards universal egalitarianism.” — Max Horkheimer

    Egalitarian-ism? Add yet ANOTHER “-ism” to the ever-growing list of Western “elite” “Jew”-ish (KHAZAR) “-ism’s” !!!

  • cstahnke

    I don’t see how this adds to a cause to impeach Trump. You lost me there. That demonstration is a symptom, as are comments here, of our societal dysfunction and the direction you are taking does not bring us to healing but, ultimately, to civil war. We need to listen to each other and create dialog. Remember that race is and has been a tool used by the oligarch class to keep us divided and ignorant of their con games.

  • Wake up $h€€PL£

    What a terrible article , the police are not there to protect you ? What is their job then ? The police were stood down, this created a violent clash , the same thing happened in Berkeley, this a strategy the media are then used to film it all and build the narratives to demonise nationalists , white folk. The “alt right” who are anti globalist are the target here.

    • Wildeforce

      Numerous cases throughout the years have verdicts in which the police do not have a duty to protect you. The biggest decision in regards to this was from a 2005 Supreme Court case Warren v. District of Columbia. What it came down to is that police are to enforce the laws, that is their job, not to serve and protect the populace.

      I’m not an attorney so I don’t quite understand how this can be because the two should go hand in hand… in my opinion

  • hyperbola

    Swanson’s article reads like PC mumbo-jumbo that ignores many issues. Here is a piece from a University of Virginia graduate that Swanson would do well to read. The video is particularly appropriate.

    Thoughts on Charlottesville and What It Means for Us
    http://www.unz.com/article/thoughts-on-charlottesville-and-what-it-means-for-us/

    This would be another article that Swanson should read.

    American Pravda: The KKK and Mass Racial Killings
    http://www.unz.com/runz/american-pravda-the-kkk-and-mass-racial-killings/

  • Todd Millions

    I see no mention of Jason Kessler.
    I find reports bringing up his role a couple years ago as a Occupy -“provoceteur”.
    cloying. such agency! I think some comparisons to the Atlanta olympic bombing of years ago
    may be of interest. Find the Dane, find the crime .
    I learned that working for Crown Corporation.

  • Caldera

    This article, David, you are trying to walk that fine line, but you come across as unoriginal and only towing the line.