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by Florangel Rosario Braid

Last week’s protest rally in Charlottesville, Virginia where a young woman was killed and 19 injured, was reported as a “Unite the Right” rally, a “coming-out party” for an emboldened white nationalist movement in the US. A pro-white activist affiliated with the alt-right movement organized the rally to protest the planned removal of a Statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, from the city park. The rally attracted more traditional groups of white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan. This rally organizer is affiliated with the alt-right movement that uses Internet trolling tactics to argue against diversity and identity politics, part of a broader cultural backlash that helped elect Donald Trump.

US President Trump’s immediate reaction to the violence stunned the American public. The protest rally was clearly instigated by the white supremacists. But the President blamed both sides and gave this statement: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, violence in many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country.” The other side is the alt-left, who he noted, were just as responsible for the bloody confrontation.

This comment was widely criticized not only by media and his political foes but also by people from his own party. The New York Times reports: “The President buoyed the white nationalist movement as no president has done in generations, equating activists protesting racism with the neo-Nazis and white supremacists who rampaged in Charlottesville.” But the governor of Virginia described it as domestic terrorism, and not a confrontation between two sides.

Former US President Barack Obama sent this reaction, a quote from Nelson Mandela, “People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes most naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” Prime Minister Trudeau twitted: “We know Canada isn’t immune to racist violence and hate. We condemn it in alls its forms and send support to the victims in Charlottesville.”

The New York Times further reports that past politicians had condemned white supremacists. Since the 1960’s, Republican presidents had taken a hard line at the party’s racist, nativist, and anti-Semitic fringe. These include Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and George W. Bush.

The resignation of the White House business council members was an act of protest against the President’s reaction, and a protest rally in New York may have helped in persuading Trump to finally admit that racism is evil and to also name those who caused the violence – “the KKK, white supremacists, other hate groups.”

A study on extremism reports that far-right extremist plots have been more deadly than far-left plots. White nationalists, militia movements, anti-Muslim attackers, IRS building and abortion clinic bombers, and other right-wing groups were responsible for 12 times as many fatalities and 36 times as many injuries as communists, socialists, animal rights and environmental activists, anti-white attackers,  and other left-wing groups. Of 1,500 individuals on a University of Maryland study of radicalization from 1948 to 2003, 43% espoused far-right ideologies compared to 21% from the far-left. Far-right groups were more likely to commit violence against people while the far-left were more likely to commit property damage. Right groups and jihadic groups are more violent than the left.

“Alt-right” is a racist, far-right movement based on an ideology of white nationalism and anti-Semitism. The movement’s goal is the creation of white state and the destruction of “leftism” which it calls an “ideology of death.” It is anti-immigrant, anti-feminist, and opposed to homosexuality and gay and transgender rights. It believes that higher education is only appropriate for a cognitive elite and that most citizens should be educated in trade schools and apprenticeship.

Antifa and black bloc, the far-left of today, have engaged in a few violent episodes such as the congressional baseball shooting in Virginia and the bombing of the North Carolina Republican headquarters. Overall, far-right extremist plots have been far more deadly than far-left plots.

My email, Florangel.braid@gmail.com

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