In light of the tragic events of this weekend, it is important (as President Trump says) to condemn hate and extremism in all its forms. It is equally important to put matters in their proper context. On Saturday 12th August 2017 a beautiful young woman called Heather Heyer was killed when a car (apparently driven deliberately) crashed into her during a protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, United States.
A suspect has been arrested for the crime and if guilty, they will pay. Even so, how did things reach this stage? Neo-nazis and Ku Klux Klan members like those in Charlottesville used to be laughed at as a pathetic and irrelevant fringe – a sort of far-right live action roleplay group in their weird costumes.
I believe that the answer lies in the legitimisation of violence and intimidation by members of the anti-free-speech, far-left, “Social Justice Warrior” movement and their organisations such as ANTIFA. As a society we need to end extremist left-wing radicalisation of our youth and this may require laws to curb the excesses of those on the far left as well as the far right who contribute to any promotion of violence.
On April 15 of this year, violent riots broke out at Berkeley when black-clad far left thugs associated with the ANTIFA organisation (self described “anti fascists”) caused mayhem along with $100,000 of property damage. The protestors were ostensibly aggrieved at a speech by Milo Yiannopoulos, an openly gay right-wing journalist and agitator. Needless to say, the property damaged did not belong to Yiannopoulos but to the campus. The main victims were not, “Nazis” but innocent students, the majority of whom could not care less about either side.
The events were part of a broader trend of rising violence and intolerance in the United States and Europe, fuelled by extremist leftists – predominantly students and unemployed recent graduates. University culture has shifted over the years, to the extent that even the Guardian Newspaper has criticised the trend, stating that “voices are being silenced”.
Equally sinister, as noted in the Guardian, left-wing student activists are increasingly describing offensive words and images, as “violence” – even a statue of Cecil Rhodes. This redefinition of words or even inanimate statues as “violence” is then used to justify a literally violent response.