Charlottesville Was Not A “Protest Turned Violent”

| Educate!

Above Photo: On August 12, White supremacists attacked counter-protestors at Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Virginia. Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

It Was A Planned Race Riot

Isn’t it time for the media to be honest and call white supremacists the domestic terrorists that they are?

In July of last year, after The New York post ran the headline, “CIVIL WAR: Four cops killed at anti-police protest,” I wrote the column “How We Report on Structural Racism Can Hurt Us—Or Heal Us.” I could have easily written the same article today.

That column recalled the Kerner Report, the findings of President Johnson’s commission investigating the uprisings that occurred throughout 1967, to determine what happened and why, and to provide recommendations to prevent them from happening again.

While reading and watching the news stories unfolding from the college town of Charlottesville, Virginia, what I and many others are calling White nationalist race riots,  I couldn’t help but recall the Kerner Report again.

A fundamental criticism in the report was that news media had failed to analyze and report adequately on the many incidents of racial injustice in the United States. The report noted that the social ills, challenges, and grievances African Americans face were “seldom conveyed.”

In considering the history of racism in this country, they wrote, “By and large, news organizations have failed to communicate to both their Black and White audiences a sense of the problems America faces and the sources of potential solutions. The media report and write from the standpoint of a White man’s world.” This “White press … reflects the biases, the paternalism, and the indifference of White America. This may be understandable, but is not excusable of an institution that has the mission to inform and educate the whole of our society.”

The commission found media outlets had distorted information and made protests look more racially divisive and destructive than they actually were.

They were not accurate. They were not truthful.

Today, still, not much has changed.

In the case of Charlottesville, media outlets are being careless with words, whitewashing the intentions and the actions of White nationalist protestors. The “Unite the Right rally” stopped being a rally sometime Friday night when a stream of torch carrying White supremacists arrived at night to the University of Virginia campus chanting “blood and soil.” They used those torches as weapons in fights with counter-protesters.

On Saturday, NBC said, “Charlottesville rally turned deadly.”  CNN said, “1 dead, 19 injured after crash near Unite the Right rally.”

What took place was not a rally. Who wears paramilitary gear and carries automatic weapons to a rally? Who takes shields and helmets and pepper spray and bats and sticks to a rally? The car didn’t “crash”— it was driven at full speed into a crowd of counter-protesters.

What happened in Charlottesville was White nationalist extremists inciting a riot.

We cannot unite, come together, overcome, Kumbaya, or whatever else, until we get some truth-telling. Media professionals need to get it right this time.

It is also the responsibility of those of us who are anti-racist not to be silent in this time. Call out every media outlet that is soft-selling White supremacy and sidestepping the ugly truth.

Nothing less is acceptable. This milquetoast coverage lets White nationalists off the hook, even when the dithering commentary comes from President Trump.

His statement about being against violence “on many sides” stopped short of calling out the domestic terrorism of the White men who carried out acts of violence on American citizens today. Walking away when you’re asked if you denounce these actors is the definition of cowardice.

Trump managed to anger both “sides,” Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke as well as anti-racists.

What side are you on? Are you on the side that makes excuses for and sanitizes these acts and actors by calling them misunderstood Americans, the “alt” right,  misguided, upset, fringe, and whatever other name might diminish the outright terrorism these people are perpetrating.

Or are you on the side that calls bullshit on anti-Black, anti-Native, anti-Jewish racism, bigotry, and xenophobia—and the White supremacist domestic terrorists who marched on Charlottesville to shed some blood.


  • herbdavis

    The article is an insult to most folks intelligence and might even qualify as incendiary. Who came with helmets and masks? What “side” were the weapons carrying folks on? Is there such a thing as violence prone “antifascists”?

  • kevinzeese

    If you cannot see the difference between racist-fascists coming to Charlottesville openly planing on violence and people coming to defend against them, then you are willfully closing your eyes to reality.

  • subcomandante Felix

    Just “Gimme Some Truth,” indeed.

    I’m sick and tired of hearing things
    From uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocrites
    All I want is the truth
    Just gimme some truth
    Ive had enough of reading things
    By neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians
    All I want is the truth
    Just gimme some truth

    Maybe we can start with the truth about a State “sanctioned” and planned race riot. Governor McAuliffe declared a “state of emergency,” activated the national guard, and had a large contingent of State Police on hand to supplement local “law enforcement.” Yet, all these so-called law enforcement officers turned the streets of Charlottesville over to heavily armed fascist paramilitary and watched while they violently assaulted, terrorized and murdered peaceful anti-racist demonstrators. At least Cornell West gave us some truth, “those 20 of us who were standing, many of them clergy, we would have been crushed like cockroaches if it were not for the anarchists and the antifascists ….. , because they saved our lives, actually. We would have been completely crushed, and I’ll never forget that.”

    Or how about some truth about how white supremacy, racism, patriarchy, militarism and imperialism are integral to the structure of the nation state. It’s all well and good that the Lee statue is removed but what about the statue of the so-called founding father Thomas Jefferson – a serial slave rapist, who is alleged to have raped women as young as 14. Until privileged-white
    America faces the truth about the fundamental racist/sexist nature of American society and its institutions, like the social contract – Constitution – that defines the so-called “rule of law,” any change will be slow and superficial, if at all.

  • chetdude

    Here’s the difference…

    Among the “antifascists”/anarchist — mostly a figment of alt-right paranoia — there may be a few who are in it to get a chance to whack a Nazi up-side the head or even (horror of horrors) throw a brick through a window…

    The vast majority of white supremacist, racist, bigoted, misogynistic, xenophobic paranoids that constituted the “march and rally” under discussion are in it to whack their perceived enemy up-side the head…

    Not only a substantive but a qualitative difference…

  • Agree totally Herb… and most Americans now see that antifa ARE terrorists and like the NJ DHS, Trump’s DHS will soon label antifa a TERRORIST organization… why do they cover their faces, like ISIS?

  • So, here’s what’s going to happen. ‘Free speech’ proponents are going to set up ‘free speech’ demonstrations all across the country. George Soros paid mindless nutbags will show up to protest, like Boston, by the TENS OF THOUSANDS… BUT… there will really be NO ‘free speech demonstrations’ and the mindless nutbag ANTIFA terrorists will still show up, like today in Boston, and rip the town apart… throw urine at cops…get arrested…and the public will see ANTIFA as the terrorists they are…. THAT is the plan… you’ve been forewarned… Peace!