The Clanking of the Chains

Out of Boston, courtesy of NPR, comes this startling dispatch:

A small number of right-wing “Free Speech Rally” demonstrators disbanded early from Boston Common after they were confronted by thousands of counterprotesters shouting anti-Nazi and anti-KKK slogans.

It is made all the more startling, of course, because there is absolutely no evidence—none at all, not a scrap or even a shred—that there were any Nazis or Klan members within ten miles of the rally. Indeed, the organizer of the rally itself attests that it was an “anti-hate and pro-peace” event, while a pro-free-speech attendee affirmed: “This is not about Nazis. If there were Nazis here, I’d be protesting against them.”

Well, so what? This rather critical detail was irrelevant to the “thousands of counterprotesters” who showed up to counter-protest a bunch of people who weren’t anywhere near by. This is a really excellent snapshot of Millennial-style activist liberalism: a useless protest against an adversary that wasn’t even around.

One supposes that much of this has to do with the fallout from Charlottesville: people in Boston heard there was going to be a rally of some kind, and for some reason everyone assumed it was going to be a white supremacist gathering. But, while I don’t want to give too much credit to people who are apparently incapable of getting a simple protest right, we should nevertheless be generous and assume that grown men and women—people who have jobs and pay rent and are presumably potty-trained and able to feed themselves—are more than capable of telling the difference between Nazis and free speech advocates, and that they knew beforehand that this was a rally concerning the latter and not the former.

One is invariably drawn to the conclusion, then, that the counterprotesters did know the difference but found it irrelevant; put another way, they saw no difference between free speech advocates and Nazis. Perhaps the two are ultimately one and the same in their minds: liberals are often incapable of telling the difference between a principle and an application (their feelings about gun ownership are a testament to this), so perhaps they see the two disparate phenomenon—free speech and the bigots who sometimes avail themselves of free speech—as essentially indistinguishable. Both, in their eyes, are bad things. Both must be demonstrated against and ultimately eradicated. So maybe the point of this whole demonstration wasn’t to scream at the Nazis who weren’t there but to screech at the free speech demonstrators who were.

That is honestly not a far stretch, at least based on the evidence at hand. Yesterday the Rouser‘s Jessica Weiss posted an astonishing video of a “Trump supporter” walking through Boston Common wrapped in an Israeli flag. He is calm, collected, non-combative; there is no indication that he has done anything other than show up. Nevertheless, the crowd is screaming at him. “Get the fuck out of our fuckin town!” yells one guy (how many times do you think he relayed this story to his bros at a shitty Hyde Park bar later that night?). “FUCKING RACIST!” screams another guy.

Most incredibly of all, an excitable young man follows the Trump supporter around screaming bizarre, almost comically absurd threats at him: “I hope you liked having a job. Everyone you have ever known is going to see you…I will have your identity, and in your name I will be donating to everything you stand against! Thanks for the great picture! Your employers and family are gonna love these shots!”

The young man is no doubt riffing off of the anti-Nazi media campaign that took place after the Charlottesville mayhem: thousands of people on Twitter posted pictures of the white supremacist rally-goers, publicly identifying them and imploring their employers to fire them. In some cases they succeeded.

When asked, “Why are you here?” the Trump supporter responds: “I want to show that people shouldn’t be afraid to voice their [views] and voice their opinions. You shouldn’t be afraid to go outside and say you’re conservative. It’s pretty sad that things like this happen.”

Got that? An innocent fellow appears in public to state that “people shouldn’t be afraid to voice their opinions,” and—for no apparent reason—another guy is vowing to ruin his life because of it, treating him in the same way that he would treat a literal Nazi. This is not grown-up politics; it is the politics of idiot children, the kind of people who are so terminally incapable of intellectual thought and honest reflection that they equate “You should be allowed to voice your views” with “NAZI!!!!

It is worth pointing out, too, that the angry politics of this past weekend also turned violent: liberal counterprotesters were “at times violent and clashing with police,” while one innocent woman got treated to a healthy dose of progressive political action:

One older lady standing holding an American flag in outstretched arms was filmed getting hit by a protester, who grabbed her flag and ran, dragging her. Both the woman and her flag ended up on the ground.

Later the woman can be seen being comforted by people as she sinks to the ground, clearly upset.

Were the politics in these instances reversed—had it been conservative protesters getting “violent” with police, and had a right-wing protester assaulted an elderly woman for holding up a flag—it would be wall-to-wall 24/7 coverage in every major media outlet from coast to coast. But since it was liberals committing the violence, it’s no big deal. There is genuine reason to be concerned moving forward, with an emboldened progressive faction increasingly committed to violent action, and a media that is more than happy to ignore it.

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