By Kourtney Husnick
Not too long ago, we saw a cry out against ‘political correctness’ grow amongst conservatives. This cry included claims that being politically correct was dangerous to free speech. If it was not clear then, it is clear now that free speech was never the main concern in that argument.
The recent events of Charlottesville, Virginia, have been met with a similar response. While many people have spoken up to condemn the actions of neo-Nazis and white supremacists at the “Unite the RIght” rally and in general, statements defending their rights given in the First Amendment have also flooded social media. Our rights to the freedom of speech do not include threats; similarly, the freedom of assembly does not include a right to violence.
A woman was killed. Several others were injured in that incident and attacked in other bursts of violence. There is no defense for that. They had every right to gather and spout their hateful rhetoric, as wrong as it may be, but they do not deserve protection or sympathy in its aftermath. They did not follow the rules that come with those rights. They came armed. Their behavior begged for a fight with shouts of “blood and soil.” That is not a protected civil liberty. Defending that behavior is inexcusable. It is often not even about protecting free speech; it is protecting white privilege and racism.
An issue has been made of “taking back our country,” and events like the “Unite the Right” rally embody the worst consequences of that idea. This country is not a place for the alt-right, consisting of mostly white people, to take back. Neo-Nazis were never welcome here because the first wave of Nazis were not welcome here in the first place. This is not a partisan issue. Republicans, Democrats, celebrities, and small town citizens alike have openly condemned this kind of behavior. Hesitation and sympathy from our president does not justify anything. President Donald Trump is equally as guilty as the alt-right protesters.
The rally was held in his image. Protesters wearing “Make America Great Again” hats shouted their hate alongside Nazi-style salutes and shouts of “Hail Trump!” They are following the points he made in his campaign rallies. They want the border wall. They want deportations. They want a white America, and they have made it clear that they will resort to violence to get there just as Trump suggested when liberal protesters attended his campaign rallies several months ago.
This harmful influence from President Trump has not decreased. Shifting the blame to be shared by both sides served as fuel for the alt-right and justified their stance. They copied his statement and argued to be treated with love as their social media profiles flooded with angry anti-fascists. In their eyes, Trump had defended them and protected their actions.
The blame cannot be shared. Giving everyone equal rights and protection is not a harmful opposite to white supremacy. Standing up for minorities and the disenfranchised cannot be equated to a movement designed to keep those systems in place. This cannot be looked at as a left versus right situation. This is domestic terrorism versus the rest of America, and the rest of America cannot shoulder the terrorists’ blame.