Spadea on Charlottesville — President Trump was right, it takes two
When a protest in Charlottesville Virginia turned deadly, local politicians didn't waste any time taking to social media to bash President Trump.
Among those, Sen. Cory Booker and State Sen. Ray Lesniak. Booker, in a Facebook post, accused the President of "hateful hypocrisy." It occurred to me that there's an awful lot of that going around. Missing from initial headlines and reports was the fact that the white supremacists gathering to protest the removal of a statue to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee were met by counter-protesters who were armed and ready for conflict. Here's the account of one Hill reporter on the ground who was physically attacked by one of the counter protesters: http://thehill.com/homenews/news/346359-horror-and-hate-in-charlottesville.
First of all, in order to truly speak out against violent protests it's critical to condemn the potential violent intentions of the white supremacist crowd and the violent actions taken by the counter protesters. President Trump was right in his statement to point out that there is "hatred, bigotry and violence that's on many sides"
The real question is why the all-out attack on the President knowing that he condemned both? When you read the accounts of the event, it is clear that both groups were looking for and prepared for a violent conflict. Why is condemning the violence of the counter protests labeled as somehow pro-neo-Nazi? Even the American Civil Liberties Union has consistently stood up for the right of hate groups like the KKK and Neo-Nazis to march and express their beliefs.
I truly appreciate the calls today, especially from black New Jerseyans weighing in on the controversy. We had a thoughtful exchange about condemning hate and violence on both sides. Free speech is a tricky thing. Anyone can stand up for the freedom of expression when you agree with the sentiment. Try doing that when you have a visceral negative reaction to the words.
Beyond that, why was there even a discussion of a permit with a group showing up with weapons and helmets. Where the white supremacists expecting a challenge? And whey were there not arrests made immediately to the counter protesters? Why were throngs of people allowed to roam the streets disrupting traffic and blocking intersections? Were cops instructed to stand down by politicians?
There is more to this story that a simple white supremacist rally and a murderous person plowing a car into a group of people. But this does not excuse the violence of the members of ANTIFA and BLM who clearly showed up for a fight. They deserve equal attention from law enforcement. The goal has got to be a return to civil discourse over contentious issues. As long as politicians continue to use incidents like Charlottesville to further their own political agenda we will likely have more violence in the streets.
Shame on Sen. Cory Booker for politicizing a young woman death for his own 2020 ambitions.
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