I attended the University of Virginia (1982-1986). One summer, I worked at a restaurant about a block from the park where the clashes occurred last Saturday morning. My memories do not match what I witnessed on the television screen. It was surreal to watch people yelling and taunting each other, lobbing and being hit by bottles, spraying and being sprayed by mace and then engaging in random fistfights in an area I recall as being quiet and bucolic. What caught my attention is that those engaging in the violence were doing so voluntarily. They were mutual combatants. Certainly the young woman killed by a car was not part of the melee that I saw. Her death was an act of evil. And, I would place in the evil category (albeit a lesser category) the mutual combatants I witnessed fighting in the street. They were both returning evil for evil.
The public outcry in the wake of the street skirmishes apparently did not witness what I saw on the news. Government officials and media pundits generally focused on the white supremacists, Klan members and neo-Nazis (bigots) - their wrongdoing and our public intolerance for their thoughts and beliefs. There was no mention of the beatings I saw some of the bigots received in the streets.
The hatred, loathing and disdain heaped upon the bigots in the street and later in the media is exactly what the bigots want the public to feel and then pile upon them. Evil wants to be repaid with evil because even righteous loathing fuels the bigot’s hate-filled rhetoric intellectually and has no connection with logic or reason–they being in the same category with flat-earther’s. Emotionally, I pity them. Yet, when all the focus is on the bigots we seem to ignore others who engaged in the mutual combat. This is an issue of concern because it seems to tacitly approve violence by some against others.
STATUE OF ROBERT E. LEE
Let me make one more observation to put this concern in perspective. The bigots had a permit to assemble in the park. Those protesting this bigotry had choices. I would have suggested “nothing-ing” the bigots by ignoring them. Another approach would have been to stage a counter-protest down the street. Instead, the protestors ignored regulations for lawful assembly and went to the park in mass to confront the bigots. Who were the aggressors?