Violent extremism constitutes a real threat to public order and safety — it’s time to cool it
In the aftermath of the Charlottesville fracas between far-right and far-left protestors, which left one dead and dozens injured, America has undertaken a self-examination of sorts regarding our homegrown extremism problem. The public now realizes that our country possesses violent fringes which, though small in numbers, display an ardent desire to create mayhem in the public square.
The far-right element, with its Nazi and Confederate flags, is catchier on camera, displaying transgressive desires and frequently absurd attire. They seem better at shocking than fighting, however, considering how Charlottesville played out. Few have noted that the kook-right, despite making a nationwide push to get everybody to come to Virginia for the “unite the right” rally, managed to gather only a few hundred followers. In a pattern that’s familiar in Europe, the far-right was significantly outnumbered by left-wing counter-protestors in Charlottesville.
Not to mention that America’s far-right has fallen on hard times after the Virginia debacle. While neo-Nazis managed to get the attention of the nation, indeed the world, in Charlottesville, the repercussions in its aftermath have been severe. Since said movement exists more online than in the real world, post-Charlottesville efforts to get them off the Internet have hit the kook-right hard indeed.
Their most noxious website, The Daily Stormer, infamous for its incantations of violence against Jews and others, has been run off the Internet. After multiple shutdowns, the avowedly Nazi site now resides on the Dark Web, where its site traffic is surely far lower than before Charlottesville. Similarly run off the Internet is Stormfront, an online message board that’s been a focus for the far-right since 1995, when it was founded by Don Black, a former KKK leader.
The far-left has faced less public scrutiny than their sparring partners after Charlottesville. Part of this is the habitual double-standard about genocidal totalitarianisms in our country: carrying a Nazi flag is considered unthinkably offensive, while brandishing a Soviet one is viewed as much less awful – and possibly only quirky – notwithstanding that Stalin murdered more people than Hitler did.
Indeed, in recent weeks quite a few mainstream liberals have gushed about the “anti-fascists” on the left who engage in violent street theater with the far-right. It’s easy to detect more than a whiff of envy among some liberals for Antifa fighters, who get to punch Nazis whenever they feel like it. Even before Charlottesville, some on the mainstream left positively gushed about black-clad Antifas and their eagerness to do battle with the evil forces of Trumpism.
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