By now, everyone knows about the chaos that broke out in Charlottesville, Virginia back in August. Things quickly heated up at the Unite the Right rally after white nationalists clashed with counter-protesters at the event, leading to an outbreak of violence from both sides.
Some Leftist anti-fascist organizers were able to intercept neo-Nazis before they could march into a community inhabited by people of color and they were able to do so without resorting to violence. But others relied on rifles to intimidate white supremacists and maintain a unified skirmish line.
Nevertheless, the overwhelming amount of madness that ensued was meted out with makeshift weapons and armor. And as this madness played out, Virginia State Police stood back and did nothing to quell the torrent of aggression.
The rally didn’t go well, to say the least. With nineteen injured and three people dead, that much is clear. But it wasn’t all bad.
As BuzzFeed News reporter Blake Montgomery observed, “The opposition was largely winging it, preferring to establish bases in other parks with water, coffee, food, first aid and comfort. Conflict would start much the same as it has at other alt-right rallies: two people, one from each side, screaming, goading each other into throwing the first punch.”
It was clear to most moderates that everyone involved came to have their voices heard and to represent their political ideologies. Unfortunately, as the expression goes, a few bad apples spoil the whole bunch.
At least that is the attitude of the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) who announced that they would “no longer defend hate groups seeking to march with firearms.” The ACLU’s executive director Anthony Romero told The Wall Street Journal that their decision “was in keeping with a 2015 policy adopted by the ACLU’s national board in support of ‘reasonable’ firearm regulation.”
But the decision is far from reasonable and it is obvious that their announcement is largely fueled by political blowback from the Left. After social media blew up with claims that gun-wielding militias had silenced free speech, politicians and special interest groups scrambled to come up with a solution.
The result was almost immediate. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe went out and alleged that 80 percent of the people at the rally had semiautomatic weapons and even lied about white supremacists stashing weapons around the city.
It all became an effort to burn the Second Amendment as an effigy, the effigy it’s been for as long as bureaucrats and talking heads have needed an easy scapegoat.
Only this time it wasn’t just the right to bear arms that was caught in their cross-hairs (pun very much intended). This time the First Amendment would be a target as well.
Fundamentally, the ACLU’s decision represents a gross injustice to the very idea of civil liberties. By saying that they will not defend hate groups marching with firearms, they are sending an obvious message. That message is this: If you speak your mind while armed, you will not receive our legal counsel.
To put it more plainly, it is a call for both censorship and a stripping away of the right to bear arms. In this country—and this is true in most every state—law-abiding citizens can apply for a concealed carry permit which allows them to defend themselves outside of their homes.
Whether it’s a holstered pistol or a rifle mounted in your truck, you can legally carry a firearm in most American communities. In some states, such as New York and California, the laws are more restrictive than in others.
For instance, in California, legislation has been passed which requires AR-15 assault rifles to either be registered or modified to be featureless.
That being said, the law in the State of Virginia is far less strict and citizens are allowed to apply for a five-year concealed carry permit which enables them to carry a firearm to and from work, at shooting ranges and so forth.
The ACLU’s decision seemingly ignores this fact and seeks to put a muzzle on Right and Left wing protestors alike who want to exercise their constitutional rights while making their feelings known on a public platform.
It is a treacherous paradigm they are setting, one that sends a signal to the American public that the establishment—even a supposedly nonpartisan nonprofit—would rather yield to the sensitive rather than stand by our bedrock freedoms.
What groups like the ACLU don’t appear to grasp is that America is a great nation because it is a nation that values its people. And those people wouldn’t be here today were it not for their right to challenge the powers that be and play a vocal role in what their representatives do.
Rallies and protests are an integral part of the local and national political process. Individuals of varying ideologies all share one thing in common—they are patriotic and they are passionate. And it is that passion that can often lead to physical altercations.
With that in mind, it’s only right that each citizen should be able to retain their right to protect themselves and those around them. Maybe the folks at the ACLU won’t feel safe, but as Benjamin Franklin famously said, “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”