A climax in Charlottesville, Virginia: the extreme-right demonstration grew violent and reached its dangerous breaking-point as a 20 year old man plowed with his car into the counter demonstrators. The car attack took the life of a 32 year old woman and injured 19 others. Two troopers of Virginia State were killed as their police helicopter crashed while responding to clashes between the protesters.
Recently, a legal battle was managed by rightist groups and the country. It evolved around the attempt to replace some historical confederation symbols and names, which some see as offensive nowadays as they commemorate slavery and violence towards the African- Americans. The nationalist resistance did not bear fruits, and Virginia, which led to war in the past and today, was to change its symbols.
“Unite the Right 2017” demonstration meant to unite all these groups, in order to show that the right is alive and kicking. Within its organizers one can find David Duke, former leader of the KKK, Richard Spencer, a Neo- Nazi activist which imprinted the term “alt-right” and Mike Enoch.
On Friday night, 11.8, hundreds marched within Virginia University grounds in Charlottesville. Protesters held fire torches and Nazi flags, in a way resembling rallies of the KKK. They shouted “blood, soil” as the Nazi slogan, “you will not replace us” and “Jews will not replace us”.
On Saturday the central rally took place at the controversial “emancipation park”, whose name was to be changed due to the legal battle. In front of them gathered few groups for counter protest. After a few clashes, Virginia’s Governor Terri McAullife declared a state of emergency and marked the gathering as illegal.
Events escalated quickly as a man plowed into the counter-demonstrators’ crowd and ran over Heather Heyer to death, injuring 19 others. The youngster, James Alex Fields, 20, from Kentucky is now arrested.
The rally exposed a lot of antisemitism to the open. Firstly, the use of Nazi symbols in this context implies right away a hard issue, by either not understanding completely the Holocaust severances, or justifying it. Another horrifying homage was the men dressed all in black with army boots and helmets- like the Nazi outfit.
Protesters also carried signs that say “Goyim know!” and “Jews are Satan’s children.” Furthermore, they called “Jew, Jew, Jew” every time the Jewish mayor name, Michael Signer was reminded. Signer who stood against the demonstration reported receiving life threats.
The felon was described by his high-school teacher as one who always had extremist and Nazi views. A school friend tells that when they walked into the former Nazi concentration camp in Dachau, Germany, on a school trip two years ago James told a classmate he was “where the magic happened.” Other classmates described him as an angry person who spoke admiringly about the Nazis and Adolf Hitler. “He would read excerpts from Mein Kampf, and listen to Nazi propaganda music at night,” the classmate told Reuters.
Many Americans were disappointed by the President’s reaction. With the beginning of violent situation, Trump tweeted: “We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Let’s come together as one!” After the car attack Trump faced the cameras and called: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred bigotry and violence, on many sides.”
Today Trump gave some more unsatisfying answers about the issue in a press conference. He had a verbal fight with a reporter, in which he tried to defend the right groups, saying not all of them are white supremacists or Neo- Nazis, but they only came to protest the replacement of the confederation symbols. He also said there are good people among the rightist group, and violent among the “alt-left”.
Trump also noted that Washington and Jefferson were slave owners, yet we respect their legacy. The important difference which he did not mention was their action towards the slaves, whereas General E. Lee was violent to his slaves and Washington and Jefferson were not.
It is enough to say that David Duke, one of the rally organizers retweeted: “Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/ Antifa.”
On the other hand, many politicians and even republicans stand strongly against the hate actions. Hillary Clinton called the people: “We will not step backward. If this is not who we are as Americans, let’s prove it.”
Ivanka Trump reacted: “There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-Nazis.
We must all come together as Americans — and be one country UNITED. #Charlottesville.”
Sources: Forward, CNN, The Huffington Post, Twitter
Image: Getty Images
By: Roni Zedek