Opinion: It's not that hard to be clear-eyed about Charlottesville

President Donald Trump speaks to the media in the lobby of Trump Tower, Tuesday, New York. (AP Photo / Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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President Donald Trump speaks to the media in the lobby of Trump Tower, Tuesday, New York. (AP Photo / Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

I'm back after a couple of days of reporting outside Atlanta. Somehow, we are still talking about the propriety of those who assembled under and against the banners of Nazi swastikas in Charlottesville .


Folks, this is not that hard:

  • Neo-Nazis are bad.
  • The KKK: also bad.
  • White supremacists: bad today, bad tomorrow, bad forever.
  • Anyone who showed up in Charlottesville thinking they were joining a peaceful/respectful/reasonable protest against a Civil War monument's removal, then looked around, saw the swastikas and the militia types and the (tiki) torches, heard the anti-Semitism, and decided to stick around anyway: deserving of the stench now attached to them.
  • Although these people refer to themselves as "the right" and claimed to "Unite the Right," they are the extreme of the extremists, and any attempt to label all or most conservatives or Republicans as being the same as them is total bull.

But, see, this should also not be hard:

  • Not everyone who fights a fascist is a "good guy." See: communists in Italy, Germany and Spain, circa the 1920s and '30s. See also: the Soviet Union.
  • While "antifa" stands for "anti-fascist," that does not necessarily make them "good guys." They sure as hell aren't in any way the equals of our soldiers in World War 2, despite what you may have seen on social media .
  • Many of the "antifas" explicitly believe in communism, an ideology that killed even more people in the 20th century than fascism did (others in their ranks are anarchists).
  • Regardless of political ideology, those who would take the law into their own hands in the name of "punching Nazis" are lawless vigilantes.
  • So are people who would unilaterally act to tear down statues or deface monuments on public property.
  • Still, in the context of either the Charlottesville melee or American history more broadly: They're bad, but not as bad as neo-Nazis, white supremacists and the KKK -- and it's not particularly close.
  • Also: They're true extremists, and not the same as all or most liberals or Democrats.

If you find any of these points even mildly controversial, or have a hard time holding a press conference and being able to explain a position in harmony with all of this, you might need to take some more time to think things over.