White Hot
         Jason Kessler  (right) was the primary organizer for Unite the Right, ostensibly a political rally and demonstration in  Charlottesville, Va. , on August 12. The gathering convened a collection of white nationalist groups and far-right extremist groups, including but not limited to: the so-called "alt-right," neo-Confederates, neo-Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan.      Here, Kessler is shown attempting to give a press conference on August 13 outside City Hall in Charlottesville.     Photo: New York Daily News.

 

 

Jason Kessler (right) was the primary organizer for Unite the Right, ostensibly a political rally and demonstration in Charlottesville, Va., on August 12. The gathering convened a collection of white nationalist groups and far-right extremist groups, including but not limited to: the so-called "alt-right," neo-Confederates, neo-Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan.  

Here, Kessler is shown attempting to give a press conference on August 13 outside City Hall in Charlottesville.

Photo: New York Daily News.


Preface

On the eve of Unite the Right, I had written an early evaluation:

Among the "alt-right" crowd, it is hard for me to find any actual, comprehensive vision to heal—to mend the fissures and fractures of American society; to redeem the breadth and width of our social story.

There is—devastatingly—no love outside oneself, one's race, one's culture.

There is only misguided intellect masquerading and marauding as cultural grievance and the naked will to power.

There are only the recycled temptations of social Darwinism's ever-present end-game: competition, conflict, supremacy, exclusion.

Now, like many Americans, I continue to process August 12th and its aftermath.


Dispatches from Charlottesville

White Hot

 

Free Speech Is So Hot Right Now

Press Conference As Metaphor

"D" Words

 

He stood outside City Hall, in the proverbial and literal public square, among the people. Mr. Kessler had to know he wasn't in the Confederacy anymore.

For one, there were microphones, television cameras, and other crazy-smart technologies.

Also, importantly, despite "the hidden wound" of racism, our country—with the concerted help of the U.S. Constitution and the very ideals he hails (free speech!)—had defeated slavery, surpassed Jim Crow, and produced a Civil Rights Act that was now over 50 years old.

But perhaps the most telling evidence that this was no longer the Confederacy took the form of the community itself.

(Perhaps you've seen the sheer spectacle by way of YouTube, also a post-Confederacy happening.)

The community's free speech crescendo-ed in volume and pitch. Eventually, effectively, it drowned out and silenced Kessler's white nationalist podium.

I'm not a proponent of swinging away at the guy or spitting on the fella or tackling him in the open field before he crosses the goal line. But there was something of an incisive metaphor in it all: a community's words forcefully chased away destructive ideas gone white hot.

Community life in America, it turns out, is not at all like bouncing around merrily in the echo chamber of the Internet's vast tribalistic halls.

Sure, you can concoct a fervent race-based identity politics.

You can lace it with the dehumanizing stuff of superiority/inferiority.

You will need to sprinkle it with fear-mongering about loss of culture or eradication of civilization.

Some will feel especially persuaded by anti-Jewish rhetoric, in particular.

And you can attempt to sell this story more widely—or display this story more prominently—as a sort of social renewal project for the good of the country.

Perhaps you will even don a decent sport-coat.

But, that doesn't mean the community, or the nation, is under any obligation to listen as a form of toleration.

  A now-iconic image from the "alt-right" or far-right's warmup Unite the Right demonstration on the campus of the University of Virginia on August 11.    Photo: Getty Images.

A now-iconic image from the "alt-right" or far-right's warmup Unite the Right demonstration on the campus of the University of Virginia on August 11.

Photo: Getty Images.

On Friday night, intentions and feelings were under no pretense.

Likewise, on Saturday.

By Sunday, however, the dissembling began in earnest—

Here's what really happened.

If only we were fully allowed free speech.

We had a permit!

[ Dissemble: to conceal facts, intentions, or feelings under some pretense ]

 

The deflection arrived—

Anti-white hate did this.

(The problem is them.)

The breakdown of law and order did this.

(The problem is them.)

Our peaceable movement was compromised.

(The problem is them.)

[ Deflect: to change direction by interposing something ]

 

Words were weighted with dis-ingenuousness—

"I disavow anything that led to folks getting hurt." (Kessler)

"I've never been accused of a violent crime. I'm here to talk." (Richard Spencer)

Rational discussion [read: aggressive rhetoric] could've prevented this violence.

[ Disingenuous: giving a false appearance of simple frankness ]

 

Free speech had become utterly duplicitous—

We assembled in peace!

We protested in peace!

We come in peace!

[ Duplicity: contradictory doubleness of thought, speech, or action ]

  Photo: Ryan M. Kelly /  The Daily Progress .

Photo: Ryan M. Kelly / The Daily Progress.

I hear the voice of rage and ruin / There’s a bad moon on the rise
— Creedence Clearwater Revival

White Noise

White Noise

Like Breathing (Sigh) (Gulp)

Like Breathing (Sigh) (Gulp)