Opinion: Unite the Right verdict sends an urgent message

The defendants were found responsible for state conspiracy and other allegations, although the jury said it was unable to reach a verdict on two of the federal conspiracy allegations. However, it is a good day when some of the worst people in the country are being held accountable and subjected to crippling financial penalties.

The threat is not over yet. But even if the defendants didn’t come out with the millions the jury valued against them, or the court reduced the damages, the trial and its outcome sent a signal that in America, there would be accountability after all for those awful summer days. , a message that has been extremely rare since political violence began to escalate in the past few years.

The money may never come and the ideology will never go away. But this experiment should achieve at least two important goals. First, he should make others planning to make such a rude public display of terrifying opinions think twice.

Second, it clearly and indisputably establishes that what happened in Charlottesville in 2017, a historic moment in US history, is an affront to the country’s values, broadening Americans’ understanding of the violent threat posed by right-wing extremism, by making clear what the violence was all about. in Charlottesville.

This event was not the first attack of the far right in the United States, but it opened the floodgates further and in a new way to manifest armed political radicalism, a threat that is growing and accelerating, culminating in the January 6 attack on the Capitol. A coup attempt, in my opinion.
The events that took place in Charlottesville on August 11-12, 2017, are etched in the minds of many Americans. This was the first year of the presidency that galvanized far-right extremists. The march through the grounds of the University of Virginia sounded like something out of Nazi Germany in the 1930s, with tiki torches and shouts of “Jews will not replace us,” “blood and soil,” and armed Nazi salutes.

The moment seemed to confirm our worst fears. The day after that horrific rally, violent clashes between racists and anti-racists turned bloody when a defendant rammed his car into a crowd of protesters, killing one and injuring several people who are now plaintiffs in this suit.

After the Unite the Right rally, Americans – and the rest of the world – heard the former president speak both sides of his mouth, as he struggled to criticize the extremists among his supporters to please the neo-Nazis. And he was finally able to convict them, but not without declaring that there were “very good people on both sides.”
During the trial, the jurors were confronted with the hateful views of the defendants. The First Amendment protects these views, but the Constitution does not permit violence or conspiracy. “This is going to be a violent summer,” alt-right icon Richard Spencer wrote in a text message two months before the rally. (Spencer said the trial was “financially crippling.”) On a far-right message board, a man calling himself “JUDENJAGER,” Jew Hunter in German wrote, “We’ll see some serious brawls in cville and we’ll see blood on some of this white polo lol.” “.
In these proceedings, some of the accused spoke fondly of Hitler and repeatedly spoke the n-word. He explained that one attorney deliberately used the word k-e, an antisemitic slander, in an attempt to “desensitize the jury.”
The evidence was overwhelming. The jury found that five far-right groups should pay $1 million each, and 12 defendants should pay $500,000 each, in punitive damages for their participation in a civil conspiracy.
America – and the world – needs to hear the message of accountability that this jury has sent. After Charlottesville, the right-wing extremists became even more deadly. The following year, a man shouted, “All Jews must die!” They stormed a synagogue in Pittsburgh and opened fire, killing 11 people. The following year, they were told by a man who police say was targeting Mexicans, and he allegedly killed 23 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.
Not long ago, armed militias were everywhere, protesting against pandemic restrictions and demonstrating in support of former President Trump’s bogus election claims. The militia members plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
The FBI says racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists (RMVES) pose the greatest terrorist threat to the nation, and found that January 6 “demonstrates a willingness by some to use violence” to achieve political goals.
My grandmother exposed the lynchings.  That's what she'd say about the Capitol riots
America is also awash in weapons, and many of these weapons are in the hands of far-right militants willing to use them for political purposes. “When are we going to use guns?” an activist asked during a recent event for a right-wing youth group Turning Point USA. “I mean literally, where’s the line?” He asked again, “How many elections are they going to steal before we kill these people?”

If that wasn’t scary enough, consider what we saw during this very unusual week.

In a strange coincidence, three separate trials that all dealt with the tensions and violence that have erupted in this country in recent years have come to a head. In addition to Charlottesville, there is a conviction of three white men in Georgia for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black man they chased. Then there was the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager who appeared at an anti-racism protest armed with an assault rifle, which he used to kill two protesters in what he said was self-defense, a claim the jury accepted in his acquittal of all charges.

There is no evidence that Rittenhouse was an extremist, but this young man who – let’s say this again – shot and killed two people. And despite the tragic outcome of his actions, Rittenhouse became a hero in the eyes of many. His deification included a meeting with the idol of the right, former President Donald Trump, at Mar-a-Lago. In a normal and stable society, he would go home and remain silent, considering himself fortunate that he did not spend the rest of his life in prison. His supporters must have breathed a sigh of relief and might have tried to change the subject.
His actions, using a firearm in the middle of a political protest, are touted as inspiring. Members of Congress are vying to get him on their staff. One of those members, Representative Madison Cawthorne, He told his followers After Rittenhouse acquitted: “You have the right to defend yourself. Be armed, dangerous, be moral.”

The threats posed by extremist rhetoric and violence have not disappeared, but in an environment like the one we live in, Charlottesville’s victory was significant. When it comes just before Thanksgiving, it gives one more reason to celebrate, albeit with caution, during these perilous times.


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