We had a social-media fed perfect storm of incivility in Charlottesville this weekend. Start with a high-minded removal of Lee and Stonewall Jackson statues and giving their namesake parks PC names. Add white-nationalist outrage of the move in a town easy road-trip distance for the DC-based press to cover. To that, add locals who want to counterprotest the alt-right invasion and good liberals from elsewhere wanting to do likewise.
To polish off the witch's brew, add a touch of skinhead-style attitude on the part of the more militant of the crimson-necked crowd and a few of their excitable anti-fascist counterparts. Throw in a redneck mimicking the jihadi tactic of pedestrian-smashing as a low art and serve warm.
Good TV. Lousy cultural moment.
The city isn't to blame, other than possibly going overboard and trying to cancel the rally (that gives a heckler's veto that is far too common on campuses these days). Removing the statues, put their to celebrate white supremacy and to mourn the Lost Cause, is a good thing to do on balance.
Lee and Jackson seem to have been honorable guys with bad taste in sides, supporting their state and looking the other way at the "peculiar institution" of slavery in the process. Arlington National Cemetery was built on Lee's estate as payback for his efforts in the war, and Jackson was a prof at VMI before leading a lot of his former students into battle. White the two generals were not-bad guys in a bad cause (Lee and Rommel are in similar boats as great tactical generals on the wrong side of history), the anti-black folks in the Jim Crow era that put a lot of such statues up were far less honorable.
White a lot of folks look at Confederate kitsch (Dukes of Hazard is the classic example) as rebelling against overbearing authority than backing up slavery (the Don't Tread on Me Gadsden Flag is methadone for some stars-and-bars fliers, although I've seen two Old Glory-Confederate-Gadsden trifectas around mid-Michigan as of late), that's not the message that will be sent to those whose ancestors were being enslaved by the bearers of that flag.
I recall a conversation I had with a coworker at Invervarsity Christian Fellowship's Cedar Campus conference center a quarter-century ago. He had a Confederate flag in his cabin not from a love of white-nationalism or the KKK but of that rebel kitsch that appeals to mildly rebellious youth of all ages.
The college-aged young man needed a quick education of the broader meaning of that flag and the unsavory message it will send to black folks and white foes of discrimination. Is an anti-racism unsaved person going to see the young believer's faith as worth-emulating with that flag in the mix? He took it down.
I have little love for the modern alt-right, who mix a toxic ethnocentrism with a bird-flipping attitude. I have a bit less distain for other "white nationalists" who skip the 'tude but keep the Superfund-site worldview. The PC does get a bit thick at times and the left throws a lot of useful culture out with some unsavory aspects of our nation's past, but this isn't the answer.
In Christ there is no Greek or Jew, slave or free, sayeth Paul. He didn't mention Black or Hispanic, but he would have if they were in the first-century mix, and not to say "but those spear-chuckers and wetbacks, go ahead and dis them to your heart's content." At least that's not in any of the translations I've seen of Colossians 3:11.
Those pro-statue protesters have a right to speak. We've had ideological cousins of theirs for all my life, and the best way to handle them seems to be to let them say their piece without massive counter-protests that give them bigger platforms then they deserve. Had the antifas let this one go on without massive counter-protests, we'd have had no wall-to-wall coverage yesterday. That's blaming the victim in the case of the pedestrian fatality, but the nationalists got a truckload of coverage they wouldn't have had otherwise.
As is, we have the story-line of militant rightists clashing with militant leftists, with the anti-liberal Fox News crowd giving sympathy to the rednecks, at least until the pedestrian demolition derby. That makes more savory conservatives like my mom lean towards reflexively support the rednecks when they don't really deserve the support
Eileen said that if this starts devolving into Civil War 2.0 (buggy as all get out, but 2.1 won't be much better) between the white nationalists and the antifas, she's a conscientious objector. So am I.