COUNTERPOINT | The mayor of Charlottesville knew in advance about the groups assembling to protest, but little was done to prevent violence. Why?
The mainstream media's reaction to President Donald Trump's condemnation of the violent clash in Virginia was to blame Trump for criticizing the many sides involved in the conflict. Perhaps the president could have condemned specific white supremacist groups at the protest a day or two earlier, but he did immediately condemn the hate and bigotry surrounding the protest. And there are many sides to this story that should be considered if we hope to understand and avoid such conflict in the future.
Americans may detest certain groups, but our Constitution allows them the right to march and protest. A federal judge approved the permit that this group filed. They did have a legal right to protest the removal of a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Although the KKK and other so-called "white nationalist" groups were at the protest, it has been reported that others were there not as part of any white supremacist or nationalist group, but simply to protest the removal of a long-standing statue of historical importance.
People across the country are only fooling themselves if they don't realize that many good people in the South, and North, are upset about the removal of historical markers and statues by those engaged in historical revisionism and the politically correct movement that squelches free speech.
Should we take down all historical statues based on present-day values or morals? People can stick their heads in the sand and pretend that those concerns do not exist, but that will not make this long-standing conflict go away.
The counterprotesters in Charlottesville may have had a moral right to confront the white supremacists in the march, but they did not have a legal right to try and stop a lawfully permitted protest. YouTube videos posted online show both sides initiating and instigating violence. Debates are won with words, not violence. Had the confrontation not occurred, there likely would have been no story, no violence and no lives lost.
Had the police done a better job in managing and separating the groups, people likely would not have been killed or seriously injured. Instead, the police were told to stand down even as violence began to erupt on both sides. The mayor of Charlottesville and police knew what groups were attending the protest in advance.
Had the media cameras not shown up, very few people would have known about the protest, and the march against the removal of the statue would have fallen on deaf ears. Instead, the media gave the hate groups a major stage that could help them recruit more members.
Yes, President Trump was right when he criticized all sides in this violent conflict because much of this violence could have been better prevented.
However, don't expect the mainstream media or political pundits to pursue either the truth or real solutions to such problems. Their interest is too often based on self-promotion or pouring gasoline on fires in order to create story lines that help them make money.
Corby Pelto lives in Plymouth.