What Happened in Charlottesville?

This was a sad week.

A white supremacist rally in Charlottesville Virginia turned violent. And deadly.

Protesters and counter protesters clashed in the streets.

Dozens were injured.

A state of emergency was declared. The rally was called off. People on all sides began to disperse.

Not soon enough. One of the white supremacists drove a car into a crowd of leftist protesters. He injured 19 and killed a 32-year-old woman.

Since Friday when this mess began, those on the radical left have been doing their best to lump all conservatives, Republicans, and libertarians together as white nationalists, if not white supremacists. They’ve also been quickly spinning the story that all the violence was started by the white supremacist groups and that brave counter protesters were innocent victims.

And on the right, there’s plenty of story-spinning as well, as some politicians and pundits have tried to put the blame for the violence solely on the left-wing counter protesters.

Giving credit where credit is due, most right-leaning politicians and pundits have been quick to denounce white supremacist views, stating vehemently that they run counter to the principles America was founded on. They’ve done a decent job of separating the issue of the growing white supremacist sentiment in this country and the issue of increasing extremist violence among both the radical right and the radical left. Both these issues played a big role in Charlottesville but talking about them like they are the same thing leaves a lot of people with the uncomfortable impression that left-wing leaders are willing to excuse or ignore radical left wing violence while condemning violence committed by the radical right in the strongest and most dehumanizing terms possible.

Getting to the truth of what happened last weekend hasn’t been easy with everyone spinning a narrative favorable to their own view… and facts be damned.

But here are some key takeaways that I hope will keep you safer in the face of growing social chaos within our society:

  • Stay away from rallies and protests. There are plenty of effective ways to make your voice heard without getting caught up in or targeted by mob violence.
  • Never rely on a single news source to figure out what’s happening. Check sources on both sides and look for multiple at-the-scene accounts. That will usually give you enough information to put together an accurate picture free from most of the spin.
  • Work on strengthening ties within your community. Your neighbors — no matter their race, religion, or voting record — are good to have on your side during a local crisis.

If you want a better understanding of what actually happened in Charlottesville, this on-the-ground record from the Daily Caller is a good place to start. The LA Times also went to the trouble to gather a broad spectrum of first-hand accounts.