Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Who Was Really at Fault in Charlottesville?

By Conrad Black

Almost everything about the Charlottesville riot was disgraceful except the conduct of the president. The move to take down the statue of General Robert E. Lee was nonsense. Lee has few rivals as the greatest general in American history (Grant, Sherman, MacArthur, and Eisenhower perhaps). He opposed the secession of Virginia from the Union but, as was common in the South then (and has not entirely died out in any region of the United States today),believed he owed his first loyalty to his state over the United States. He was less dedicated to the virtues of slavery than was Charlottesville’s most famous son, Thomas Jefferson, founder of the University, neighbor at Monticello, and, of course, author of the self-evident truth “that all men are created equal.”

This terrible incident started as a reasonable civic demonstration by Southern traditionalists who were not hostile to African-Americans but object to the shamed renunciation of a great American heroic and folkloric figure from “Gone With the Wind,” to The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” to “The Dukes of Hazzard.” Robert E. Lee was not a precursor of Bull Connor, Strom Thurmond, James Earl Ray, or the unreformed George C. Wallace.


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  1. Here’s what I’ve noticed about these situations. These brawls seem to occur more in left-leaning college towns like Berkeley and Charlottesville. These events are usually more restrained in other places where extremist groups demonstrate. It could be that in localities that are havens for the left you simply get larger crowds of counterprotestors, or more militant protestors, and that leads to more problems. But in both Berkeley and Charlottesville there were policemen claiming they had been ordered to stand down. If that’s true, the question is why? Is it so the left-wingers can have free reign to attack the right-wingers? Is it because the local government is trying to protect the left-wingers from police brutality? Is it because liberal politicians just don’t take law and order seriously (for instance, I’ve noticed the Antifa never rioted in Joe Arpaio’s Phoenix, lol)? Is it because the city government or police department don’t have the manpower to control such situations? Is it out of fear the police will be injured?It seems like something is going on.

    Having tried to look at Charlottesville from as many different angles as possible, I have come to the tentative view that the city administration of Charlottesville, in conclusion with the state administration of Gov. McAuliffe ordered the police to stand down in order to ensure that a riot would take place. Their likely hope was that this would give the press the opportunity to obtain all kinds of photo ops that could be splattered across the media with the intention of ultimately blaming the riot on Donald Trump: “Neo-Nazis terrorize innocent civil rights protestors in Charlottesville! This what Donald Trump’s America looks like!” In other words, the state and local government, both controlled by Democrats, allowed a full blown riot with lethal consequences to happen simply for the purpose of scoring some partisan points. The same thing likely happened in Berkeley. I’m not a fan of Trump or the Republicans. Just saying.

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