On August 13th, when President Trump had announced a press conference in advance, a long-planned demonstration – protest and counter-protest – in Charlottesville, Virginia, resulted in a vehicular attack that left one woman dead and 19 people injured, the TV news (MSNBC, CNN) reported. They also showed video footage of the attack itself, and a few very brief (less than 2 seconds apiece) video shots of the protesters and counter-protesters – too brief to identify anyone or read any of the signs clearly, but enough to show a large police presence: local, county, and state. Later the TV news reported that a helicopter holding two state troopers, who had been observing the protesters, had crashed not far from the demonstration, killing both of them.
Those were the facts, and exactly all the facts, reported on the news, TV or otherwise. Everything else was speculation, exaggeration, errors (at best), and political rants aimed at Trump – for hours.
When Trump opened his press conference, he was obliged to make a speech about the tragedy, in which he condemned “violence..on many, many sides”, and called for unity and public civility before he got on with the good news: his two bills passed that would reform the VA health system and provide better healthcare for veterans. The Democrat politicians and media promptly howled that in daring to claim that the protesters – “Unite the Right” – were “morally equivalent” to the counter-protesters – primarily Black Lives Matter and Antifa – Trump had proved that he and his supporters are all “white supremacists”, and therefore Nazis. This is an odd claim, seeing that for the previous several weeks they’ve been denouncing Jared Kushner, Trump’s smart Jewish son-in-law and chief tactician.
Annoyed by the illogic, and the runaway speculation based on very few facts, I spent most of the week searching the net and querying on Facebook for anybody who had more verifiable information. Besides collecting a lot of amazing scolds for daring to demand facts, verification, analysis and logic, I eventually got answers from people who had seen, if not the incident itself, a lot of the background leading up to it.
The beginning of the story is the recent demand by the NAACP that all the Confederate monuments in the southern states be taken down. Why? Because the very sight of them is “offensive”, “oppressive”, “reminders of slavery”, “symbols of white supremacy”, and supposedly inspired a white bigot to murder nine churchgoers in 2015. As to why these old monuments hadn’t been offensive/oppressive/murder-inspiring before Trump was elected – or often for the century and more before that – nobody seemed to have an answer. For that matter, nobody seems to have thought of a more artful – and less expensive – solution: put up more statues, of Union soldiers, famous Abolitionists, famous Black heroes like Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver, Nat Turner, and so on. Such a dialog in art would only have benefited everybody, but today’s political organizers don’t seem to be interested in dialog, or debate.
The real reason for this campaign is that the NAACP felt obliged to rein in BLM, because BLM’s excesses were turning public opinion against Black activism in general. To assert its authority, the NAACP had to flex its muscles before the BLM crowd by taking up a showy political campaign – and attacking Confederate monuments fit the bill.
But anyway, when the NAACP set its sights on the Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson memorial statues in Charlottesville, the city council complained. For one thing, those statues, and the park they stood in, had been constructed in 1929 by a wealthy philanthropist, who had also commissioned a children’s park in a poor Black neighborhood, which included a memorial statue of Booker T. Washington. For another, removing the statues would cost the city $700,000 – more than enough to create a children’s park in a poor Black neighborhood. Hopefully the cost could be offset by selling the statues, but raising the money and making the sales would take time. The city asked for six months. The NAACP grumbled.
Enter a collection of anti-Trump investors. Who? Well, they were obviously very discreet about their identities, but from the results of their planning we can tell that they hated Trump, had the money to pull off a caper of this size, and were either very good at political manipulation techniques or could hire the services of those who are. This narrows the field of suspects considerably. The name Soros comes to mind. So do Ayers and Dohrn.
Actually, this bunch may have been active for quite a long time. Racism, despite its personal appeal, has been steadily dying in America since World War Two. Anyone who was there couldn’t help but be impressed by the heroic performance of the Tuskeegee Airmen, the 222nd, the Red-Ball Express, the Code-Talkers, and so on. Likewise, all the world saw that Nazis were world-class losers; they started the worst war in history – and lost. Outside of the Arab countries, racism in general and Naziism in particular grew increasingly unpopular. This is why the landmark case, “Brown vs. Board of Education”, could reach the Supreme Court, let alone pass, less than 10 years after the war ended.
So, racism was rapidly dying in America. By the 1980s, the total membership of the once-mighty Ku Klux Klan was so reduced that it couldn’t come up with a salary for its last Imperial Wizard, David Duke. He was reduced to selling his services as a political Judas Goat, and most of his income came covertly from the blatantly Marxist Southern Poverty Law Center. According to FBI statistics, the only places where racism still flourished were inside prisons and in Black, Latino, and Asian slums. Outside of prisons, even long-announced nation-wide conventions of white supremacists – KKK, neo-Nazi, or even Richard Spencer’s “alt-right” – drew crowds of little more than 100 attendees.
Yet racism as a political tool – the “stick” in a stick-and-carrot game – was too useful to be allowed to die. Certain cynical/mercenary organizations, from political parties to real-estate companies, made a point of fanning the flames for their own gain. Google-search the term “blockbusting”, and consider the career of the famous Rev. Wright, and particularly the SPLC.
I saw a case of blockbusting when I was young, and to anybody with any grassroots political – or theatrical – experience, the tactic was obvious. A Black supposed-family had bought a single house in a formerly-White working-class neighborhood, and within a week the “street theatre” had started; torn and dirty curtains framed the windows, trash and broken bicycles filled the front yard where a large and loud and ugly dog was chained, a fat and slovenly-looking Black woman leaned out a window and yelled “Leroy! Leeeeeeroy!” constantly, a radio at another window played R&B music at ear-splitting volume all day and much of the night, a skinny Black man sprawled all day in a ragged armchair on the front porch with a bottle of booze in his hand, and a half-dozen young Black men gathered around a half-disassembled trashy car in the driveway – supposedly repairing it, but more likely trashing it further, while swearing merrily in obviously ghetto-punk accents.
What I did was stroll up to one of the supposed mechanics and whisper to him: “You’re over-acting. Tone it down or everybody will catch on.” He indignantly replied, likewise in a whisper: “No way! These dumb honkies will believe anything.” I shrugged and walked on – down to my college campus, where I reported the incident not to the police but to the local chapter of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (remember that one?). I later heard that some impressive-looking Black men in suits, with big briefcases, came to have a talk with the acting troupe about the unwisdom of promoting racial stereotypes. In any case, by the next day the trashed car, the garbage, the dog, the torn curtains and the loud actors were gone. The house stayed quiet for a week, and then a respectable Black couple with a little daughter moved in. They behaved like any other family in the neighborhood, and there was no further trouble.
That was my introduction to political theater, and I remembered it well. After that, I and my assorted radical buddies kept an eye out for indications of manufactured racism and political provocateering. We couldn’t help noticing, as end-of-century approached, that even as we saw racism die out among the common folk and common culture, there were more alarms and reports of “growing right-wing fanaticism” and “increasing racism” among the intelligentsia – usually emanating from the SPLC. That was when I learned to research actual crime figures from the FBI – and noticed the varying political biases of different government bureaucracies. I worked for a state Welfare department for awhile, and saw it myself (among other corruptions, which I wound up writing a song about).
In any case, there was a well-entrenched political/economic cabal waiting in the wings to exploit the Charlottesville problem. I suspect them of having founded BLM (for Blacks only), and then Antifa (for everybody else), based on their experience with blockbusting. Certainly they were responsible for inflating the “alt-right” out of nothing, for they used the same CoIntelPro trick that we saw the FBI use, decades ago, to cripple the Feminist movement (research Andrea Dworkin, and her ultimate effect on the National Organization of Women). Richard Spencer had called for a nation-wide “white nationalist” convention a few weeks before, and despite the free advertising the media gave him, actual videos of his convention show that it drew fewer than 125 attendees – and a visible number of those were obviously provocateurs.
When it came to actually organizing the protest rally in Charlottesville, Spencer was pushed aside and an experienced organizer named Jason Stossel took over. It’s most intriguing that Stossel became the manager of this whole campaign, seeing that until last year, when he dropped out of public sight, Stossel had been a big wheel in the Occupy movement. ‘Twas he who applied for the permits, and – when the city council refused – brought in the ACLU to get him the permit on grounds of “freedom of speech” – much as they had 30 years earlier for a proposed Nazi rally in Skokie, Illinois, and actual rally in Chicago – which turned into a marvelous political comedy (long story). On losing its case to the ACLU, the city govt. of Charlottesville agreed to grant the permit – which had promised all of 500 “alt-right” marchers – but grimly warned Stossel and his crew that the city could not guarantee their safety. This is an odd notation, seeing how many police – local, county and state – the city began calling up for the targeted day.
And now things become a bit strange. Witnesses in Charlottesville, including a Black blogger, reported seeing at least 6 charter-buses come rolling into town and unload passengers toting duffelbags who were wearing yellow T-shirts with black letters on the front reading either “BLM” or “KKK” – passengers on the same buses. That would have made 300 passengers total. And on getting off the buses, they scattered off to two different staging-grounds for the two different kinds of protesters. There is no public record that the local police observed any of this, or kept track of where the protesters were staging, yet it’s hard to believe that they didn’t know. Oddly enough, just a few days before this, notices began showing up on various social media reminding people of CoIntelPro activities the police had pulled off years before, and warning how to tell provocateurs among protest marches.
According to civilian residents in Charlottesville, the day of the torchlight parade, gangs of “Nazis” capered showily around the city, wearing military flak-jackets and big swastikas, carrying Nazi flags and “assault rifles”, yelling racist epithets and insults. One bunch of them reportedly scampered into a Black neighborhood, until the neighbors went into their houses and came out with shotguns, whereupon the scary Nazis promptly made themselves scarce. It would be hard to find more blatant provocation.
That night the “alt-right” protesters held their long-planned torchlight parade in the park. Apparently the police had talked to them earlier, because this time they showed up in plain casual clothes, with no flags or “assault rifles”, signs or swastikas – only tiki torches. (Technical point: if you’ve ever done any camping, picket-line marching or vigils after dark, you know that the tiki-torch is the worst open-flame lighting you can use if you’re going to be moving at all; it’s fragile, poorly balanced, and likely to spill.) Whoever decided to buy tiki-torches for the event was ill-experienced at torchlight parades, but – as the extensive videos of the march show – very experienced and skillful at managing picket-lines. For one thing, the crowd was spread thinly into a circle around the park so as to make its numbers look bigger; at first glance one might think there were a thousand marchers, but the police estimated not more than 200.
For another, close observation of the march videos soon reveals three distinct kinds of protesters. Most obvious are the picket-captains, no more than one-tenth of the crowd, the ones constantly scanning the area and leading the chants. The second group, making up at least half the marchers, are notable for their demeanor; they march with the quiet economy of athletes, or soldiers, or people who have walked on a lot of picket-lines. They keep a regular watch on the picket-captains, and they pick up almost instantly on changes in the chants – as if they had learned the chants beforehand, and recognized their lines. Finally there’s the third group, maybe 100 of them, who act enthusiastic, loud, undisciplined and clueless. These are the ones who break ranks to run up and shout at passers-by, then dash back into the march when any of those passers-by look threatening, wave their tiki-torches around sloppily, burst out with slogans of their own, and take awhile to hear and repeat the chants – and often repeat them wrong.
Pay special attention to two particular chants: “Blood and soil” and “The Jews shall not replace us”. What do those slogans have to do with old statues of Confederate generals? Not a thing. Those slogans were used at Nazi Party political rallies in Germany, leading up to the 1933 elections – and never again afterward. It would have taken a lot of detailed historical research to discover that, and precisely all those chants are good for is to brand their shouters as Nazis. What possible political purpose would that serve?
Now, note how those obscure slogans are used by the marchers. First the picket-captains fall silent, and the second group – call them the trained troops -- quickly follow suit, while the clueless third group keeps chanting until they hear the slogan change. The picket-captains start chanting, clearly: “The Jews shall not replace us”. Then, within a few seconds, the trained troops pick up the chant almost accurately, at most cutting it down to: “Jews shall not replace us”. Eventually the clueless take up the new chant, but – clearly being ignorant of the original and its meaning – repeat what it sounds like to them, which is “You will not replace us”.
The conclusion is hard to avoid. More than half of that supposedly White Supremacist crowd was made up of trained, experienced professionals – possibly the half of the crowd brought in on those buses who wore KKK T-shirts. The real “alt-right” marchers, maybe 100 of them including Richard Spencer himself, were not running the show and almost certainly had no idea what was really going on.
Now let’s look at the real rally in the park the next afternoon. First, news-videos show the “alt-right” protesters gathering in a staging-area near Emancipation park, and the Antifa counter-protesters gathering in similar staging-area on the opposite side of the park. The “alt-rights” wear ordinary sports of casual clothes, and carry two kinds of shields: round wooden black-and-white shields, and full-body clear or white plastic constructions remarkably similar to police riot-shields. Obviously somebody had warned the “alt-rights” what to expect from Antifa. News-videos also show the Antifa troops carrying bags of suspiciously-heavy bottles and spray-cans actually being lit into homemade flame-throwers with 3’ flames.
At the rally’s beginning, a collection of local clergy and their congregations tried to block the “alt-right’s” entry to the park with their bodies and picket-signs – which any experienced picket-line marcher could tell you was an extraordinarily stupid, even unconstitutional, move since the “alt-right” protesters already had legal permission to go into the park and hold their rally. The “alt-right” response was interesting; they formed a ragged flying wedge, with the full-body-shield carriers at the point, and charged into the counter-protesters, knocking them aside or to the ground. Significantly, the “alt-rights” without shields, as they dashed through the opening, barely paused to swat the fallen counter-protesters with sticks or aimed quick kicks at them. If you’ll look closely at the videos, you’ll notice that the shield-bearing “alt-rights”, while slamming the counter-protesters to the ground also positioned their shields over the fallen counter-protesters, enough to at least partially shield them from those passing kicks and swats. The one of the counter-protesters who took a noticeable injury – a young Black man with a cut on his scalp that bled profusely – was quite capable of standing up and complaining loudly for the cameras just a few seconds later.
The Antifas, being alerted to this activity – How? By whom? – came running over to the entry to the park and filled in the gap with their own bodies and a a large wooden sign prepared in advance. This allowed the local clergy-and-congregations counter-protesters time to get out of the way of the “alt-right” second wave. It’s not surprising that the clergy-and-congregation crowd sincerely believe that the Antifas saved their lives, seeing what immediately followed. The “alt-rights” and the Antifas joined in a merry brawl, and the news-videos show remarkable differences in their tactics. The “alt-rights” made excellent use of those shields, particularly against the Antifas’ loaded bottles and spray-can flame-throwers. If anything, the “alt-right” hand-to-hand techniques showed more characteristics of military training. In any case, at the point when the flame-throwers came out, the local and state police put in an appearance and – finally! – separated the two groups. The “alt-rights” accepted the police action stoically, as if they’d expected it, while the Antifas were indignant, as if still spoiling for a fight; in fact, as they retreated behind the police lines, the Antifas continued to heave loaded bottles at the “alt-rights”, bottles which sometimes fell short and hit the police, who were not pleased.
Shortly after this, a certified schizophrenic named Adam Fields got into his car, sped down the street beside the park, and rammed into a group of counter-protesters, killing one of them and injuring another 20. Broadcast videos of the ramming show the car already in motion, so there’s no way to tell what happened before Fields started his run. Some witnesses have claimed that the Antifas threw their loaded bottles at Fields’ car, after which he accelerated. The police, who chased after Fields’ car an soon caught him, have kept very quiet about their evidence.
Also intriguing is the fact that a few minutes later a state-police helicopter, which had been flying low over the far end of the park, mysteriously crashed, killing the two troopers on board. The police were not pleased by this incident either, and are likewise keeping their knowledge of it close to their vests.
In fact, the behavior of the police, local and county and state, in this whole situation is puzzling. Their usual method of dealing with conflicting crowds is to keep the groups as widely separated as possible, yet police present on both days complain that the Mayor of Charlottesville had told them to “stand down” until told otherwise. News-videos confirm that the police stayed away from the confrontations until the serious weapons came out, and generally did a poor job of keeping the crowds separated. More than one resident has noted that it’s almost as if the city government wanted the “alt-right” and the Antifas to brawl with each other. Still other local witnesses have commented on how the Antifas came to the city supplied and spoiling for a fight, and how angry they were when the police stopped them.
What few people have mentioned is the peculiar professionalism of the “alt-right” crowd – at least half of it, anyway -- compared to the behavior of the Antifas. Just where did the “alt-right” marchers get that expertise, and how did such a twerp as Richard Spencer know how to get hold of them? The simplest answer is that he didn’t; Jason Stossel, with his previous connections to Occupy, did.
Around this time news of www.crowdsforrent.com, https://crowdsondemand.com, and reports of private armies for hire began showing up on the Internet. The fact that such things exist is intriguing by itself. The fact that they advertise their services for “protests and rallies” is disturbing.
The political reasons for staging such events as we saw in Charlottesville are obvious, seeing what use all the anti-Trump politicians and media made of them. I find it most interesting that the media’s chief source of outrage at Trump is that he dared to treat the “alt-right” and the Antifas as “morally equivalent”. Their claims that “Tump is a Nazi” haven’t held water, and their claims that “Trump’s support-base is Nazis” haven’t held up either, but at least they’ve cost him some “popularity” points in the ratings. Was that enough to be worth the cost – in unknown amounts of money and three innocent lives – of this piece of political theater? And is it possible that nobody in the media recognized political theater when they saw it? Has investigative reporting deteriorated that far?