Americans have been holding peaceful gun rights rallies for years. Virginia hasn’t suddenly become chock-a-block with cretinous neo-Nazis aching to get their faces before the public (not to mention before the police force) for the sake of demonstrating for gun rights.
The original rallygoers are ordinary, law-abiding Virginians, who have no history in our lifetimes of the tinderbox-crowd volatility being suggested by the media.
The concept of gun rights is associated with those Virginians. It is not associated with the far Left, fascist-tactics group Antifa, which reportedly plans to rally “alongside” the mainstream, law-abiding Second Amendment supporters.
Nor is it associated with the neo-Nazis who have recently been arrested – some in connection with alleged plans to disrupt the rally with violence – in other states.
Nor is it to be judged by the motives or slogans (or possibly the behavior) of other out-of-state groups planning to be at the rally, including at least one leader of out-of-state demonstrators at the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville.
These are fringe groups, unrepresentative of either gun owners or the American population as a whole.
America has not suddenly become unsafe for gun rights. Americans have not become radicalized or prone to violence.
Virginia has not suddenly become unsafe for gun rights. Virginians have not become radicalized or prone to violence.
Virginia Democrats, however, depict Virginia as unsafe for gun rights, and Virginia’s gun owners as radical and prone to violence.
The media do the same. Note how casual references are subtly turning the gun rights rally into a “white nationalist rally” – a ploy of rhetorical impressionism.
Reporters covering tomorrow's white nationalist rally in Virginia, I'm absolutely begging you:
Verify information before you send it out tomorrow, even if it's a very sensational rumor you heard from a cop.
Don't become a hero in neo-Nazi propaganda circles with made-up stuff.
— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) January 19, 2020
Note: Ben Collins later tweeted that he had deleted the above tweet:
Hi everybody! I’m deleting a tweet so I can be super clear about tomorrow’s rally in Virginia.
The Lobby Day protest is and has traditionally been a gun rights rally, but white nationalists, including militant group The Base, have been planning violent action at the event.
— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) January 19, 2020
What he doesn’t do here is acknowledge that Monday’s gathering is still a gun rights rally. The decision of other groups to show up doesn’t change it into something else. It means those other groups – not the people rallying authentically for their rights – are the ones out of place. Any other operating principle, and the radical fringe can drive the center out of the streets inside a month. If Antifa or some neo-Nazis plan a rally, you don’t go. If you plan a rally and they show up, you refuse to be driven away, and you expect law enforcement to respect and protect your First Amendment rights. – J.E.
Note 2: David Hogg (of Parkland, Florida high school activism fame) tweets his own call to action, affirmatively labeling gun rights rallygoers “white supremacists and nazi’s [sic].”
VA is in a state of emergency because white supremacists and nazi’s are using their 2nd amendment rights to shutdown the 1st amendment rights of students, veterans, and clergy.
— David Hogg text VOTE to 954-954 (@davidhogg111) January 19, 2020
The replies to his tweet reveal a following of ideologues who have drunk that Kool-Aid.
Even if the mainstream media don’t explicitly mislabel Monday’s rally, they can achieve a mental eliding effect by omitting honest, necessary distinctions. They did that unrelentingly after Charlottesville in 2017; there is reason to expect them to do it again.
The combination of Antifa’s planned presence at the rally in Richmond, and the drumbeat of news about neo-Nazis planning violence during the rally, fits exactly the pattern of orchestrated, socially divisive street violence – and rumors thereof – that plagued Weimar Germany in the decade before Hitler rose to power.
The street thugs of Germany learned their tactics in turn from the Bolsheviks of revolutionary Russia.
These tactics denied the streets and a public voice to the people themselves: the vast majority of peaceable, lawfully-engaged citizens.
We can be hopeful, of course, that radical elements will not be able to tip the rally over into violence on Monday.
The thousands of honest citizens gathered there will behave responsibly. They don’t represent a problem for anyone except politically motivated people who want to lie about them.
The FBI has been working to round up out-of-state neo-Nazis who may have been planning to disrupt the rally, and that’s a good thing. Keep the probable cause lawful and the arrests honest. But the more neo-Nazis who can’t be there, the better.
Antifa is the wild card. It’s on the Virginia authorities to keep faith with the law-abiding, taxpaying public – starting with the gun rights rallygoers, who are peaceful citizens exercising their constitutional rights – and keep Antifa from getting out of hand, as Antifa has done so often in other places.
To the state and local authorities in Virginia, and to the national media: America is watching. The streets don’t belong to Antifa. They don’t belong to neo-Nazis. They don’t belong to you.
They belong to us. We thank you for your service when you faithfully maintain and police the streets using the resources we buy for you. But you won’t drive us out of them by dishonestly painting a false picture of who we, the people, are.