On its first anniversary, it is worth revisiting what we may now refer to simply as “Charlottesville.”
Thanks to the assistance of Republican politicians and their apologists in Big Conservative media, the left didn’t hesitate to transform this event into an ideologically and politically-useful weapon.
Of course, Charlottesville could serve the left’s agenda only if the official interpretation of circumstances defies reality—as it does.
On August 12, 2017, hundreds of people gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia for what they called a “Unite the Right” rally.
They would be met by an even greater number of leftists of various sorts, self-described “anti-fascists” and “anti-racists.”
Immediately, elites in Washington D.C. and their fellow travelers in Big Media (of both the “mainstream” and “conservative” varieties) laid the blame solely at the feet of “white supremacists.” Every politician, Democrat and Republican alike, and every commentator, Fox News contributors and talk radio hosts no less than their leftist counterparts on the other networks, spared no opportunity to show the world that they were even more repulsed by this exhibition of “white supremacy” than the next person.
Make no mistakes about it, the wailing and gnashing of teeth, the fever-pitched waxing of indignation, was political theater at its absolute best—or worst. It is inexcusable that anyone who purports to be in the know, let alone those, like politicians and media figures, who are expected to be knowledgeable of current events, should not have been able to discern from the jump the gist of what occurred in Charlottesville on that fateful day.
President Trump elicited much criticism for claiming at the time that there were good people amongst both the demonstrators and the counter-demonstrators, and that both sides contributed to the violence. The President did misspeak, but not in the ways in which his critics charge:
First, it is manifestly absurd to characterize as “good” those—like the militant leftists who converged upon Charlottesville—who routinely violate the Constitutional rights to speech, assembly, property, and bodily integrity of, not only those of their fellow citizens with whom they disagree, but as well those of their fellow citizens who they deem insufficiently supportive of their “anti-fascist” agenda.
Second, not a single hair on the head of a single person would have been harmed, much less would anyone have been killed, had it not been for the “anti-fascists” and “anti-racists,” the “counter-demonstrators” who initiated the violence.
(1)The organizers of the Unite the Right rally acted lawfully, availing themselves of their Constitutional right as Americans to peaceful assembly. The organizers applied for their permit months in advance of their demonstration. It was granted and then withdrawn. The organizers appealed and, thanks in no small part to the American Civil Liberties Union—hardly a right-wing operation—a judge determined that the city of Charlottesville had no legal grounds on which to deny them a permit.
In other words, the organizers of the Unite the Right rally acted in good faith, with fidelity to the law, every step of the way.
(2)The counter-demonstrators, in stark contrast, conducted themselves lawlessly: They had no permit and never even applied for one. Quite the contrary: The “anti-fascists” armed themselves with weaponry—clubs; bricks; bottles and balloons filled with cement, urine, and feces; bear mace; baseball bats; bows and arrows; and a makeshift flamethrower—and, quite literally, hit the streets. They formed mobs and took to intersections, blocking traffic and attacking motorists.
For this reason, because of their lawlessness, their flagrant criminality, it is a misnomer to describe the “anti-fascists” as counter-demonstrators. They composed a mob.
(3)It’s true that a few of the demonstrators were seen sporting KKK and neo-Nazi paraphernalia. It is equally true that the vast majority of the rally-goers who gathered in Charlottesville were doing no such thing, and that several of these endeavored to remove those showcasing KKK and Nazi symbols.
The lion’s share of rally attendees descended upon Charlottesville on that fateful day not to affirm “white supremacy,” “white nationalism,” or any racial fiction that the media would ascribe to them, but, rather, to demonstrate against the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue, an act that symbolizes to many patriotic Americans the radical left’s ongoing attempt to fundamentally transform Southern culture specifically and that of the United States of America generally into something in the image of their own ideology.
And, to repeat, there weren’t so much as dirty looks exchanged, to say nothing of overt violence, until lawless leftwing mobs, so-called “Antifa” and Black Lives Matter, in particular, arrived and instigated every bit of it.
(4)The foregoing facts were available at the time. Big Media—both the “mainstream” or “liberal” media as well as such “conservative” media as Fox News, talk radio, National Review, The New York Post, etc.—just weren’t interested.
Those who were interested had to go underground, to the internet, to Youtube, to gather eyewitness testimony from those who were actually in Charlottesville. The most reliable testimony comes from the members of several “Patriots’” organizations, self-described “civic nationalists” (as opposed to racial nationalists) who came to Virginia to keep peace and safeguard the Constitutional rights of their fellow American citizens (See here and here).
Most of these men (and some women) are military and police veterans who remain committed to upholding the oath to the American Constitution that they pledged upon embarking upon their careers in law enforcement. These are the same people who those in Big Conservatism (the Big Con) tirelessly “thank” for their service. Yet when these retired soldiers and officers of the law were physically besieged by leftist criminals and corrupt Charlottesville police alike, Big Conservatives were all too eager to side with militant and radical leftists and blame the protestors and these Constitutionalists for the unprovoked violence that they suffered.
(5)This brings us to the next point: As some of us knew then, and as the Heaphy Report has subsequently confirmed, violence would have been averted not only had leftist street thugs shown the same respect for the law as that shown by the Unite the Right demonstrators. It would have been averted had the governments of Virginia and Charlottesville—the governor and mayor, the state and local police—and the University of Virginia conducted themselves more responsibly.
The governor declared a state of emergency, in effect canceling the demonstrators’ permit at the last minute, while the Charlottesville mayor ordered the police commissioner to in turn order his officers to stand down.
But even this way of putting the matter is understatement. The police didn’t just do nothing as innocent citizens were assaulted. They encouraged the violence by forcing the Unite the Right rally attendees to vacate the premises by way of walking through the wall of volatile leftists that were waiting for them.
From these facts, we can deduce another: Contrary to the conventional (Politically Correct) wisdom, far from being aggressors, the only party in this story that is innocent of provoking violence is that of the rally demonstrators.
Fairness, however, forces us to go one step further: It is the rally attendees, and them alone, who showed respect for America, for its traditions, laws, and the Constitution, for preserving the history of their country, civility, free speech, and peaceful assembly. No other actor in this melodrama can claim credit for doing the same. Every other actor, in fact, revealed themselves as decidedly anti-American.
A final point: While the overt left has long ago put us on notice as to its desire to destroy (“fundamentally transform”) America as it has existed, the response of Big Conservatism to Charlottesville proved, if proof was still needed, that Big Cons are but an alt-left. Big Cons incessantly whine over the left’s suppression of free speech whenever it is one of their own—like, say, Ben Shapiro—who is prevented from speaking at a college campus. Yet their eagerness to buy hook, line, and sinker the interpretation of Charlottesville favored by Antifa and Black Lives Matter confirms that they care as much about protecting the free speech rights of those to their right as they care about “supporting the troops” and “blue lives” when law enforcement veterans are lumped in by the left with “racists,” “fascists,” “white supremacists,” and, simply, “the alt-right.”
Never again can anyone within the Big Con be regarded with seriousness when they espouse platitudes concerning the Constitution, free speech, tolerance, civility, or, for that matter, respect for veterans and law enforcement. Though few people have yet to grasp this, the truth is that Charlottesville comes as close as anything to serving as the criterion, the test, for determining one’s commitment to the Constitution, law and order, free speech, civility, tolerance, and all of the rest.
The Big Con failed this test miserably.
There are Wolves, there are Sheep, and then there are Sheepdogs.
Wolves prey on the outnumbered, the weak, the unsuspecting, the vulnerable—i.e., whether the Sheep or, in a not infrequent number of cases, other Wolves who have fallen out of favor with the pack.
Wolves lack courage. They lack honor. And Wolves care only about satisfying their own greed.
Though they are typically presented as being polar opposites, Wolves and Sheep actually share some character traits in common. Sheep, too, tend not to be particularly courageous. While they are not necessarily mean-spirited or even selfish, and while Sheep can be gentle and compassionate, since they value their own safety more than anything else, Sheep are prone to conform their speech and conduct to that of the herd. They are prone to “obey orders.”
Thus, like Adolph Eichmann, to whom the Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt ascribed a “curious, but quite authentic, inability to think,” Sheep too are devoid of original thought, preferring instead to trade in the banalities of whatever clichés and conventionalities happen to be in vogue at the moment.
Like Eichmann, Sheep “obey orders.” Only in the case of Sheep, the orders constitute the Zeitgeist of the majority, or what is felt to be the majority.
In the case of our contemporary political situation, the Spirit of the Times is what is usually called “Political Correctness.”
The Sheep, even when they suspect that PC notions are wrongheaded, will not dare to say so aloud. Sheep, after all, are not daring. And, so, PC is permitted to prevail.
The Wolves, however, are the self-appointed guardians of the PC orthodoxy, its watchdogs. The Wolves, forever salivating over the prospects of fresh blood, spare no occasion to search out deviations from their creed so as to administer as humiliating and agonizing a punishment for the heterodox as possible.
To repeat the foregoing point, Wolves and Sheep are quite similar in many respects. Wolves run in packs because, though they will never admit it, not too far beneath the surface they are terribly afraid of being devoured by their own. Wolves lack the self-discipline to act rightly, for righteousness often demands that one stand against the will of the Mob, the Pack or Herd.
Wolves and Sheep are two sides of the same coin. Perhaps we need to add another character-type to this three-old taxonomy: There are Wolves, Sheep, Sheepdogs, and…Sheep-Wolves or Wolf-Sheep.
The Sheepdog, though, is of a different breed altogether. The Sheepdog, like the Sheep, dreads trouble. He hates violence, and aims to avoid it at virtually all costs. But unlike the Sheep, he doesn’t hate it because he fears for his own safety alone. Like the Wolf, the Sheepdog is willing to engage in violence, but unlike the Wolf, the Sheepdog will use violence if and only if it is necessary for the sake of preventing harm to innocents, whether himself or, crucially, others.
In the Sheepdog there is no arrogance. The Sheepdog is not given to trash-talking. His training involves the cultivation of, not just physical prowess but, what is arguably even more important, “situational awareness,” i.e. the ability to diffuse potentially violent situations before they occur.
In the world of contemporary American politics, one can distinguish the Wolves and Sheep from the Sheepdogs. It’s also all too easy to see how the Wolves and Sheep are more like one another than either is similar to the Sheepdog: Wolves select their prey and then intimidate the Sheep into joining the attack. The Sheep, of course, though conspicuously unenthusiastic—Sheep tend to lack enthusiasm about virtually everything—are nevertheless all too ready to pile on those who the Wolves have already maimed. The target, after all, poses no threat at this point.
The Sheepdog, however, despises injustice. He despises alike bullies and those who never tire of ingratiating themselves to bullies. His instinct is to protect those upon whom the Wolves and their Sheep pummel, whether he likes or agrees with their prey or not, for these predatory attacks, lacking as they do all proportionality and honor, are unseemly.
When Roseanne Barr, a long-celebrated left-leaning white Jewish Hollywood actress dispatched an admittedly crude tweet identifying former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett as the offspring between the Muslim Brotherhood and Planet of the Apes, Roseanne was besieged by Legion, the mob of Wolves and their Sheep lackeys. Jarrett, as it happens, is partially black. Any ape reference vis-à-vis a black person is…“racist.” Or so the social media mafia of Sheep, following marching orders from their Wolf bosses, wailed indignantly.
Roseanne, who herself on more than one occasion—like when she posted a picture of George Zimmerman’s parents’ home address while their son was incessantly receiving death threats from enraged blacks for his (justified) killing of Trayvon Martin—has been known to assume the role of Wolf herself. Yet for this one tweet, and despite issuing multiple apologies, this one-time Wolf now found herself at the mercy of the pack. As she became reduced with rapid speed to a non-person, exiled from the Respectable Society that she once inhabited, Roseanne quickly discovered that the Wolves and their ever-obedient Sheep were devoid of all mercy.
The Sheepdog, though no fan personally of Roseanne, is repulsed by the relentlessness of the attack upon her, as well as the cowardice of the Mob, all of whose members—Wolves and Sheep alike—would never think to be confrontational if they knew that they could be harmed while doing so.
In other words, the Sheepdog knows that the Herd would rather ground and pound an outnumbered, defenseless white woman for her alleged “racism”—a juvenile tweet—than express outrage over the precipitous rates and truly barbaric nature of black-on-non-black criminality and violence. The former approach is not only safe, but it provides the added benefit of allowing Wolves and Sheep to virtue-signal to one another while encouraging them to see themselves as brave Social Justice Warriors.
The latter approach, in glaring contrast, is dangerous, particularly if the critic is white (though blacks and other racial minorities who are courageous enough to call out black criminality risk much too).
Despite its hazards, and maybe in part even because of them, the Sheepdog resolves to do his part in protecting innocents by acting on the side of truth and righteousness.
Be a Sheepdog.
Jack Kerwick earned his doctorate degree in philosophy from Temple University. His areas of specialization are ethics and political philosophy, with a particular interest in classical conservatism. He has been teaching philosophy for nearly 20 years and his work has appeared in both scholarly journals and popular publications. Jack is the author of four books, including Misguided Guardians: The Conservative Case Against Neoconservatism and the recently published, Higher Miseducation: A Dissident’s Essays on the Assault Against Liberal Learning.