Everyone, please take a deep breath. The recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, during which a white nationalist ran over innocent people with his car, is a statistically insignificant event. For you are far more likely to be killed by furniture, lightning strikes, and even your own toddler.
So these types of things need to be “put in perspective.” “Spreading fear,” should not be our priority- it is dangerous. We mustn’t create an “us vs. them” narrative when it comes to Trump supporters. Because the backlash could be nasty against Trump supporters, and many innocent Trump supporters could be killed. Anyway, Trump supporters face discrimination from a lot of “privileged” people every day, and we should keep that in mind. We have to keep calm and carry on. #JeSuisCharlottesville. Love will trump hate. Build bridges, not walls. And never forget that in any case, you are more likely to be killed by your furniture.
If it isn’t clear to you that what you have just read is satire: it is. For if it were serious, it would be a vile and outrageous reaction to a horrific incident. But sadly, these deflections and red herrings are, in all honesty, only half satire (and half truth), as they are frequently used after terrorist attacks of a different nature.
But before delving into the bigger picture, it is worth recounting what occurred in Charlottesville the other day. As one can see in the video below, a white supremacist ran over many people with his car, killing one person and injuring over twenty others in the process. Most of the victims were counter-demonstrating against the white nationalists, Confederates, and neo-Nazis who had come to Charlottesville to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee.
There has been a marked discrepancy between the reaction to the white supremacist terrorist incident in Charlottesville as compared to reactions to equivalent acts of terror committed by Islamists and Jihadists. The contrast has been quite striking, and it is worth investigating why this might be so, given the similarities of the crimes in question.
For one, both used vehicles to slaughter innocents. Both types of terrorists flirt with anti-democratic and quasi-fascist political projects. Both involve supremacist and imperialist elements that glorify violence, conquest, and domination.
But yet again, the reaction to this particular atrocity has been far more forceful, unequivocal, and unified than reactions to those of past Islamist atrocities.
For example, President Trump was hounded all the way from the political left to the political right for his initial reluctance to point fingers at any specific group of people. During his press conference on Saturday, Mr. Trump only went as far as to condemn the “violence on many sides.”
Those who criticized Mr. Trump for this vague gibberish were certainly right to do so, and as a result he corrected himself two days later by issuing a far more specifically-worded speech that condemned the white supremacists outright. This is the only thing any decent President should have done.
Which brings us back to the topic of Islamist terrorism and our society’s general response to it. It is nowhere as forceful. It is nowhere as unequivocal. And it is nowhere as unified.
For example, President Obama was hardly pressured by the establishment media or political class to specifically call out radical Islam or Islamic extremism in the wake of terrorist atrocities in Europe and the US. In fact, he never used either term and faced hardly any ridicule for it, especially from the left, which was seemingly all-too-content to confuse us with what Maajid Nawaaz calls the “Voldemort Effect.”
In perhaps the most striking display of this anodyne obfuscation, Mr. Obama famously stated that the 2009 Fort Hood Jihadist attack was merely an instance of "workplace violence." In light of the Orlando nightclub shooting in 2016, Mr. Obama accused the killer, an ISIS supporter, of merely being influenced by, “extremist ideology.”
The use of these bland and tediously politically-correct descriptions of the culprits were wrong, just as Trump’s similarly disorienting description of the Charlottesville attack was wrong. Whenever a terrorist attack occurs, we must have no qualms about identifying the group of people the terrorists belong to or the ideology they claim to be acting in the name of.
Yet the reality is that Trump was treated far differently from Obama. He has been criticized to no end for his initial blunder in stating that violence was emanating from “many sides.”
Articles have been written urging white people to action. Another article claimed that “nice white people” benefit from white supremacy. And some have gone even further, as one can see in the Tweet below from Pop singer Lorde. Just imagine if "white" were replaced with "Muslim." The backlash would be untenable.
It would be useful to think about why the reflexive reaction against white supremacy has been so much more powerful than it ever is against Islamist terror.
This type of discrepancy is perhaps derived from a fundamental difference between the way the right and the left see the world. For the right (not the alt-right or the far-right, but rather the center-right), each individual and group of persons must be judged equally for their actions.
However, on the modern left, it seems that, to paraphrase the excellent Roger Scruton, what one says or does is not as important as to which identity group one belongs. So when a white Christian individual commits vehicular terrorism, the left is quick to point out that there is a problem within the white Christian community that must be addressed. This is a fair point to make, and one with which I wholeheartedly agree. And the left feels confident in making such assertions, since whites are perceived to be “privileged” and thus are able withstand criticism.
However, when an Islamist commits the same type of crime, no pressure is applied to our politicians to criticize the hatred that emanates from certain parts of western Muslim communities. This is perhaps due to the fact that Muslims are perceived to be a monolithic victim class, and must hence be treated far more delicately. This is wrong, and it relegates minority groups to people whom we treat with lower standards.
All terrorism must be condemned. It must be condemned equally and forcefully. And in each instance, the group responsible must be called out. For to pick and choose which groups to call out is nothing more than sheer hypocrisy. It must end now, and the reaction to Charlottesville can show us all how it should be done.