Winners and Losers Two Years After Charlottesville

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.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


12 responses to “Winners and Losers Two Years After Charlottesville”

  1. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    That is an analysis of the Twitter messaging on a couple of the neo-Nazi groups’ feeds promoting attendance at the Charlottesville rally. And below is the same analysis of two Antifa websites doing the same thing, encouraging people to go to Virginia. See any relationship between the percentages of appeals to violence? They look equivalent to me. Maybe a tad heavier with Antifa.

    Thank you, Adam Klein, Pace University. Here is the study, first in the International Journal of Communications:

    We got the same lesson last week, when an anti-immigration fanatic shot up an El Paso mall and less than 24 hours later an Antifa follower (probably those same Twitter feeds?) fired on the crowd in Dayton. Will we see the real lesson about hate and violence and extremism of all forms? Nope. Eeek! That would be to note their (im)moral equivalence!

  2. I don’t want to dump on former Gov McAuliffe because I tend to like him/agree with him on some things. But I woud think the other thing that dampened McAuliffe’s near-term electability at the national level was the Northam/et al blackface etc., which McAuliffe was saying they should resign. So he got on he wrong side of history there.

    I did not read the book but obviously the Country is having a crisis on that topic so its a bit of a 3rd rail to handle, so I was curious how well it would be received.

  3. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    McAuliffe screwed up Charlottesville big time. He was the Governor and had the ability to send out the state police and National Guard to keep the peace. He didn’t do so. If we had a real media outlet instead of the Post, McAuliffe’s career would be over.

  4. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd

    I agree with the criticism in Jim’s post and those of the commenters, all critical of McAuliffe book “Beyond Charlottesville,” and how it was so dismissive of, and at variance with, Mr. Heaphy’s Hunton and Williams report. The book raises many new questions and concerns. It resolves nothing.

  5. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    Bottom line: The authorities flat blew it, failed to keep the two sides separated and when the violence started, were slow to respond. The only question is, did somebody in authority want the violence to happen? Because it was perfectly clear it would unless a strong buffer existed between the two crowds. As noted by that report, the Twitter feeds were filled with calls for violence on both sides. I haven’t read the book but I remember the press statement from the state the day before, with a clear indication they saw a violent day ahead.

    1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
      Reed Fawell 3rd

      “The only question is, did somebody in authority want the violence to happen?”

      I believe that question can be answered beyond a reasonable doubt by a close and careful reading of the Hunton and William’s Report. It’s that simple, yet no one in the mainstream press wants to know the answer to that simple question.

  6. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    Probably worthwhile to provide a link to that again. Just the executive summary and table of contents are damning.

    Trump in my mind was too slow to openly condemn the Alt-right and neo-Nazi perpetrators. But his language on that front is far superior to the absolute failure on the left to condemn Antifa. I said it two years ago and nothing in my mind has changed – they do pose an equal threat to our democracy and society. Violence is never acceptable and must be condemned in all forms.

    1. Good idea. I’ve embedded a link to the Heaphy report.

  7. Andrew Roesell Avatar
    Andrew Roesell

    “No Free Speech for Fascists! No Enemies to the Left!” And there you have it.



  8. LarrytheG Avatar

    How do critics reconcile the failure to act in Charlottesville with what the authorities did in Richmond with regard to that planned event? Did the Gov and others do something different than they did in Charlottesville to head off a repeat? Be fair here Stever – you live there and said you feared a similar encounter and I ask you – did the State and Richmond do something to inhibit or prevent it – and if they did – do you and other critics acknowledge that and give credit for it?

    Also – what is the avowed purpose of White Supremacists verses the avowed purpose of Antifas?

    Antifas does not threaten harm to others – other races; they do not advocate policies that would discriminate against other races and they do not typically initiate demonstrations.

    What happened in Boston with White Supremacists and Antifas?

    ya’ll are living in an alternate universe on this – stoked by right wing idiots and FOX news, Limbaugh, Carlson, etc et al.

    Antifas does not advocate harm to others because of their race or culture; they DO opposed groups that do want to divide the country into “white” and “non-white”.

  9. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    As Klein said in his report, which just popped up in a search, the “avowed purpose” of the Alt-right and Antifa was very much the same. “Call to Arms” and “Inciting Conflict” were the messages culled from 44 percent of the far right Twitter messages and 50 percent of the Antifa messages. The police intelligence sources were getting very much the same.

    Another interesting thing I learned from Klein is that the Alt-right also regularly expressed hatred and distrust for the media, with the Antifa people using the same language against the police. (See above).

    Let’s add this to the pile of evidence:

    Sorry, Larry, you are the one who does not see because you do not want to see that both groups are incredibly similar in their rhetoric, tactics and aims. They are violent bastards but they are your violent bastards, serving your ends, so you defend them. I condemn all the violent bastards. The 1930s Germans thought they could control the violent Nazis but once they were in charge….violence is the disease, all by itself.

    As I recall the Monument Avenue protests and counter protests were post-Charlottesville and thus more subdued and yes, the police did a better job of separation. One of them turned out about a dozen unreconstructed Confederates, at best, hardly comparable to the crowd in Charlottesville. All over the country they did a better job than the state and city did that day in Charlottesville. Just keep them apart, and make it clear no weapons allowed, not even signs on sticks.

  10. djrippert Avatar

    McAuliffe writing a book about what he did in Charlottesville would be like Bill Clinton writing a book about respect for women or Donald Trump writing a book about social media etiquette.

    What the hell was the Macker thinking?

Leave a Reply