The infamous Unite-the-Right rally in Charlottesville took place two years ago today. The event degenerated into a pitched street battle between white supremacists and militant leftists, culminating with the death of counter-protester Heather Heyer when a white supremacist ran his car into the middle of a crowd. The riot traumatized the Charlottesville community, the state of Virginia, and indeed the entire nation.
It is interesting to see how the nation has processed the tragedy. From my vantage point, the big loser is Governor Terry McAuliffe, whose flawed law-enforcement contributed to the breakdown in order. The big winners are the leftist radicals whose shared culpability for the violence has been virtually expunged from the mainstream media narrative.
Mac the Dull Knife. McAuliffe, who reportedly entertains ambitions of running for elected office again, has released a book, “Beyond Charlottesville,” which he purports to be “the definitive account of an infamous chapter in our history.” The former governor exonerates himself for allowing the protest to turn into a riot. Conservatives never bought McAuliffe’s story. It turns out the Left isn’t buying it either.
Former Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer, whose actions also prompted criticism in the Heaphy report, took issue in a recent column with McAuliffe for putting the entire onus on the city for problems at the rally. While Signer charitably called McAuliffe’s book a “value first step” in understanding the events of August 2017, he describes a book full of errors, omissions, and blame-shifting.
Daily Progress writer Allison Wrabel also dishes the governor’s book as riddled with factual errors and devoid of important context, but with less gentle language. McAuliffe, she observes, totally ignores the authoritative, deeply researched post-rally report written by former federal prosecutor Tim Heaphy that was sharply critical of the Charlottesville and state police response to the rally. She lists numerous other omissions and evasions, and then quotes a statement from three survivors of the car ramming:
He not only fails to mention his moral obligation to inhibit the convening of the largest, armed racist, white nationalist militia group gathering in decades, but he openly idolizes the police officers who participated in and actively endorsed violence by their refusal to intervene and protect anti-racist activists.
Which gets us to the winners…
White-washing the black-clad radicals. Leftists portray themselves as victims of the riot. It takes two to tango. The white supremacists did not fight phantoms. While most of the counter-protesters in Charlottesville were peaceful, their ranks contained a large contingent of radicals set upon confrontation with the white supremacists. They got the violence they were seeking.
I declare the radicals “winners” because their role — thoroughly and indisputably documented in the Heaphy report — has been air brushed out of the Mainstream Media history, and their framing of the bloody confrontation as a spasm of purely white supremacist violence has colored the national discussion about race relations ever since.
I am not engaging in “moral equivalence” between left-wing and right-wing extremists. White supremacists are repugnant losers and a blight on society. I am stating that far left-wing groups have been absolved for their co-starring role in the build-up to the Unite-the-Right rally as a left-right confrontation and then contributing to the mayhem.
Waving the bloody shirt of Charlottesville, the Left has convinced many Americans that the rise of violent political extremism in the United States is a right-wing phenomenon. In the battle for public opinion, that constitutes a massive victory.
Update: Good reporting from the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal about Mayor Signer: “How Charlottesville ‘Resistance’ and Violence Felled a Rising Political Star.“There are currently no comments highlighted.