Individuals or members of groups opposed to white supremacist/nationalist groups are not equally culpable as members of the KKK, neo-Nazi, white supremacist, white nationalist or other hate groups.
Members of hate groups have perpetrated many more crimes and acts of violence against others than have been perpetrated against them. Please see the summary compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center from 1995 to the spring of 2017.
Speaking specifically about the events in Charlottesville, VA, on August 11-12, and Donald Trump’s news conference about the events on August 15:
No one from the counterdemonstration population killed any member of a neo-Nazi, white supremacist, or other group participating in the “Unite The Right” events in Charlottesville on August 11 and 12.
James Alex Fields, a participant in the “Unite The Right” event, killed Heather Heyer and wounded 19 others. Fields has been charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and failure to stop in an accident that resulted in death, in addition to two more counts of malicious wounding and three counts of aggravated malicious wounding.
Christopher Cantwell, an organizer of the “Unite The Right” events, was interviewed by Elle Reeve for Vice News Tonight’s documentary “Charlottesville: Race and Terror,” which follows Cantwell, a white supremacist who travels with a group of neo-Nazis.
During the interview with Reeve, Cantwell said, “We’re not non-violent, we’ll fucking kill these people if we have to.”
On the death of Heyer, Cantwell showed no regret. “I’d say it was worth it,” Cantwell said. “The fact that nobody on our side died, I’d go ahead and call that points for us.”
“I think a lot more people are going to die here,” he said, smirking.
During the August 15 news conference at Trump Tower, Donald Trump said that on August 11, “I looked the night before. If you look, they were people protesting very quietly the taking down the statue of Robert E. Lee.”
I looked extensively online to see if I could find any video footage or photography of the people “protesting very quietly the taking down of the statue of Robert E Lee.” I did not find anything that looked like that. But I did find lots and lots of video segments of people carrying flaming Tiki Torches and very loudly shout-chanting “Blood and soil,” and “Jews will not replace us!” and “You will not replace us!”
Trump claimed during his August 15 news conference that the white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville were peaceful. Let’s be clear on one thing: many of these white supremacists/nationalists came to their rally on August 12 carrying guns, mace, pepper spray, and shields. No one who is planning to protest peacefully brings guns, pepper spray and mace to an event.
Also at the same news conference, Trump asked, “What about the ‘alt-left’ that came charging at, as you say, the ‘alt-right’?” he asked. “Let me ask you this: What about the fact they came charging — that they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do.”
Although some people who opposed the alt-right neo-Nazis and white supremacists did commit acts of violence in Charlottesville that should be condemned, equating individual people from the left with members of alt-right white supremacist groups is absurd because alt-right, white supremacist/white nationalist groups have for many years perpetrated far more acts of violence than members of the left on white supremacists or white nationalists.
According to this article from the New York Times, “But overall, far-right extremist plots have been far more deadly than far-left plots (and Islamist plots eclipsed both) in the past 25 years, according to a breakdown of two terrorism databases by Alex Nowrasteh, an analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute.
“White nationalists; militia movements; anti-Muslim attackers; I.R.S. building and abortion clinic bombers; and other right-wing groups were responsible for 12 times as many fatalities and 36 times as many injuries as communists; socialists; animal rights and environmental activists; anti-white- and Black Lives Matter-inspired attackers; and other left-wing groups.
“Of the nearly 1,500 individuals in a University of Maryland study of radicalization from 1948 to 2013, 43 percent espoused far-right ideologies, compared to 21 percent for the far left. Far-right individuals were more likely to commit violence against people, while those on the far left were more likely to commit property damage.”
The false equivalency Trump proposed between members of the alt-right and — a term he coined — the “alt-left” has no basis in fact or reality. The two sides are not comparable.