Understanding DT, Statues, and the Antifa

No, there are not very fine people on both sides.

Fascinating today to research Antifa and this idea of the “alt-left,” which it seems is a made-up term created to equalize the extreme left and right, and put them on equal moral footing — the idea being that if a Neo-Nazi Statue Defender carries a torch and he’s met by a Club-Carrying Defender of Multiculturalism in the street, they are both “wrong” because they are both there with the expectation of violence and are active participants in the violence that follows. Trump’s point, which of course most people think is either crap or irrelevant, is that these were not, in fact, peaceful counter-protesters but equally violent leftist (well, alt-left) thugs ready for a fight. How, according to DT, can you treat Neo-Nazis so unfairly by ignoring the fact that Antifa and their friends were there with clubs?

I’m mostly confused because I thought only the Flintstones carried clubs. If you look closely at the photos, they’re more like sticks or bats or dowels — larger versions of the ones that I used to buy at the local stationery store as a kid, along with my grandmother’s lotto ticket, to use for school projects. Let’s just call them sticks for the purposes of this post. So the moral question that is posed to us as Americans this week by both the White House and Don Lemon and his friends at The Media, which we’re expected to somehow answer in 140 characters or three Facebook sentences or an asinine meme, is this: is it wrong to meet violence with violence to defend values that one holds dear?

Those in the “No” camp argue that no, it is not wrong, because Antifa is not on the same moral plane as the Neo-Nazis in J. Crew Pants and Pier One Torches. They carry sticks to defend themselves and they only advocate for — and sometimes carry out — violence against Neo-Nazis in J. Crew Pants and Pier One Torches because Neo-Nazis in J. Crew Pants and Pier One Torches are fucking evil, and World War II was fought to rid the world of such evil. The reasoning being: if my grandfather got a medal for killing Nazis, why can’t I beat the shit out of one in the middle of the street? I am a hero.

Those in the “Yes” camp argue that, yes, it is in fact wrong to use violence to defend such values and that the use of violence makes Those With Sticks just as wrong as the Neo-Nazis in J. Crew Pants and Pier One Torches. The reason being: if the Neo-Nazis in J. Crew Pants and Pier One Torches are fucking evil with their Germanic chanting and pretty logo flags then so are Those With Sticks who are dressed in black and ready for a fight. (Black, after all, for many in this camp, is the color of bad people, so dressing it in must mean you’re about to do something bad.) The hero here is Donald, who had the guts to stand up publicly and draw The Great Equivalency at his crazy, poorly lit press conference.

Go ahead, America, choose a camp. Do it quicky because we’re in the middle of a street fight. Literally. And as a boy from Queens, Donald knows street fights well. That is likely why he, the President of the United States, is talking about Charlottesville in terms of blame. He can’t help himself but get into the nitty gritty of the fight. He was made for it. That’s how he sees the world: as one big street fight, in which the winner will always be the loud, pumped up brute — a role he thoroughly enjoys now on the world stage. The winner is, as we’ve seen these last two years, not he who is most moral but he who comes up with the meanest dig, Tweet, threat, post, meme, or press conference.

Most Americans would agree that the President should be talking about the tragedy in terms more befitting the leader of 300 million people, arguably six billion, which is why it is no surprise that Barry O’s Tweet got the most likes ever on Twitter this week. But DT doesn’t yet understand his new platform, and some say as of this moment never will. Don’t take us into the weeds of who hit whom. Stop the micro-managing of the narrative. Stay big. Stay wide-shot. You’re…the President. Tell us that our nation is better than Neo-Nazis in J. Crew Pants and Pier One Torches and civil unrest is not about to break us into Hunger Gamesian districts.

This is what we meant in the debates by “temperament,” #btw. And this is not “the best temperament.” (Oh, look, temperament does have an a after the r. I learned so much today.)

But back to the street fight.

I, myself, am from another borough of New York City, in which the classic street fight broke out every August afternoon when I was a kid in the 1990s. The difference being that our summer tumbles were about kickball and stolen bases and the side mirror on our neighbor’s car that was bound daily for a cracking. Donald’s national street fight is about white supremacy. But I get street fights, and bullies, so I dug into the treasure trove of the Internet today to understand the two teams fighting over the kickball. And I came upon a web of information. In fact, it was an endless world-wide web of information.

I quickly came to realize that this street fight is not just about Robert E. Lee or his pretty statue. It’s about the alt-right and the made-up alt-left. Or is it made up? And by whom? It’s also about the “alt-light,” the Diet Coke of the alt-right. Who knew? It’s about Antifa, who look like something out of Twelve Monkeys — who protested at DT’s Inauguration, incidentally, and at the G20— and Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter. It’s also — click, click, click — about propaganda and identity politics and the gays and the Jews and SJWs (social justice warriors) and corporations and Ayn Rand and globalism and Blood and Soil and Streep and Oil… and Amazon and Big Pharma and, of course, Bernie, Hillary, and Stephen Colbert.

That is a lot of things for a street fight to be about. I mean, these Neo-Nazis in J. Crew Pants and Pier One Torches are swinging their flame dicks at a massive powder keg here — a powder keg that DT says he didn’t start, and one that, he also says, Barack Obama didn’t start. They are equal in their not starting of the powder keg.

So where does this leave the majority of Americans post-Charlottesville? Are we not the real Very Fine People? We don’t believe in Nazism. We don’t carry clubs. We don’t chant about the dirt that we stole from the Indians. I mean, I didn’t steal it from the Indians, “We the People” did. Not “us,” but our ancestors. Well, not my ancestors. They were in Italy fighting for Mussolini. Shit. They were in Italy fighting for Mussolini. Who was a fascist. Am I a fascist? I also wear black a lot, so am I a fascist who’s Antifa? I drink Diet Coke. I watch Stephen Colbert. I shop on Amazon. Wait, Amazon is bad? I thought Chick-Fil-A was bad. Cops are bad. But I have uncles who are cops. But I also have black friends. I like my black friends. I didn’t enslave their ancestors. I’m from the North. My ancestors fought to free their ancestors. Well, not my ancestors. My ancestors were fascists. I think both of their lives matter. I’m a liberal — both of their lives can’t matter. Well, they can matter but they can’t Matter. All of their lives matter. Except the fascists. Fuck, my grandfather’s life doesn’t Matter. But my other grandfather fought in World War II as an American. Well, no, he didn’t. He had a back anomaly and the Army wouldn’t take him. Was he a draft dodger? That would make him a communist. A pinko. But he would have killed Nazis. The Nazis killed gays. And I’m gay. He would have killed Nazis so I could be gay. And marry a Jew. A gay Jew. Well, we didn’t get married. We lived in Brooklyn — not hipster Brooklyn, yuppie Brooklyn. Is a hipster a yuppie? We were domestic partners. We couldn’t get married. Now we could, but we couldn’t then. We can now thanks to identity politics and Hillary Clinton. No, Hillary was against gay marriage. Obama passed it, after he evolved. It doesn’t matter; we broke up years ago. Wait, did the gays do all of this? Did our quest for civil rights make the Neo-Nazis in J. Crew Pants and Pier One Torches so angry in the last decade that they took to the streets with tiki torches? Ohmygod, I’m not a Very Fine Person. I’m a Gay Jew-Divorcee Antifa-dressed Descendent of a Fascist and a Draft Dodger With Black Friends and Cop-Uncles Who Used to Buy Dowel Sticks. And I caused the Neo-Nazis in J. Crew Pants and Pier One Torches to attack Those With Sticks.

Fuck, life is harder than kickball.

And yet, IT IS NOT.

Sorry, the President led me to the weeds and I got lost in them. Let’s put this simply: if someone had come to the kickball game with a Nazi flag, my mother would have called the cops. Because Nazis are bad.

That is the fucking point.

And that’s all we were asking for, Mr. President. That’s all. Not a play-by-play of the street fight. Not an analysis of degrees of blame for the violent aftermath. Not a commentary on American extremism or terrorism or an introduction to fringe groups we have to Google. Not a national debate about statues, the Confederacy, the Civil War, World War II, slavery, and globalism all at once. Why are Stonewall Jackson’s ancestors on CNN? Because you turned Charlottesville into a national kickball game.

We were asking, as Americans, for you to simply and cleanly say that Nazism has no place in America and that the life of the poor girl who died was one life lost too many.

That’s it.

Going forward, less is most definitely more.

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Where the personal, pandemic and the political meet // juliovincent.com • @juliovincent

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