The white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., this weekend was (a) staged with George Soros money and "Jewish actors"; (b) at least infiltrated by lefties or someone else who made it turn violent; or (c) a reaction by conservative whites to their demonization by the "leftist media" and American society in general, and any trouble there was the fault of counterprotesters.
Well, those are some of the theories floating around far-right media outlets, and we're not even talking wa-a-ay far-right sites like the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer, which most likely owns the rally proudly -- this column doesn't generally go near those. No, this is from sites like Infowars, BarbWire, Breitbart, and World Net Daily, and from Rush Limbaugh's radio show. These are all things we follow so you don't have to.
Granted, not all right-wing commentators are contorting themselves to put the blame for the Unite the Right rally and attendant violence anywhere but where it belongs -- on racism. At Townhall, a conservative site that hosts its share of fringe voices but has some reasonable ones, political editor Guy Benson rightly dubbed the gathering "a vile hodgepodge of white nationalists and neo-Nazis" and denounced Donald Trump's initial failure to call out racism by name. Some other conservative columnists echoed these sentiments, albeit with a number of them making the claim that "radical leftists" are just as bad.
But several outlets provided whacked-out explanations for the Charlottesville event, although most tried to distance themselves from the "alt-right," a term that has various definitions but is often associated with the white supremacist movement. Former Breitbart executive Steve Bannon, now a Trump adviser, bragged of making the site a platform for the alt-right, and while denying racist motivation, Breitbart often does appeal to a white male sense of grievance.
As usual, leading the crazy was Alex Jones of Infowars. He was quick to posit that the rally and related tragedy -- one counterprotester was killed and several others injured when a car plowed into them -- was a "false flag" operation staged to give the federal government, "globalists," or someone an excuse to declare martial law. Not Trump, apparently, who is Jones's hero, but maybe the "deep state," which Newsweek calls a "figment of the right-wing imagination that invokes a network of career federal and military officials seeking to bring down Donald Trump."
In a video posted Saturday, Jones placed the blame on his usual targets, including investor and philanthropist George Soros; to Jones and his ilk, the fact that Soros has made grants to progressive groups means that he's pulling all the strings. Soros "doubled the amount of money he was giving to Black Lives Matter and other antipolice, race-based groups when Trump won," with the goal of fomenting "civil unrest," Jones said.
Patheos blogger Ed Brayton responded, "Uh, Alex ... that isn't who was rioting. It was white supremacists, the exact opposite of the people you demonize -- and the same people who gleefully supported Trump." Well, Jones quickly had an answer for objections like that.
"Here's a little bit of audio of me like 18 years ago protesting the [Ku Klux Klan]," Jones said in a Sunday broadcast, excerpted by watchdog group Media Matters. "There's no big crowd of Antifa [an umbrellas term for antifascist groups] there supporting me, and them threatening to kill me, everything else. And it later came out they were federal agents like I said. It wasn't even real. I mean, quite frankly, I've been to these events, a lot of the KKK guys with their hats off look like they're from the cast of Seinfeld. Literally they're just Jewish actors. Nothing against Jews in general, but they are leftists Jews that want to create this clash and they go dress up as Nazis. I have footage in Austin -- we're going to find it somewhere here at the office -- where it literally looks like cast of Seinfeld or like Howard Stern in a Nazi outfit. They all look like Howard Stern. They almost got like little curly hair down, and they're just up there heiling Hitler. You can tell they are totally uncomfortable, they are totally scared, and it's all just meant to create the clash."
The kindest thing we can say about this rant is that like Seinfeld -- which was, by the way, a great show -- it's about nothing. Except Jones's prejudices and delusions, or maybe it's just his "art performance."
Limbaugh, once famously dubbed "comedian Rush Limbaugh" by liberal commentator Keith Olbermann, didn't come out and say the event was staged, but saw conspiracies afoot just the same. "White supremacists and the Nazis and the extremist far-left Antifa deserve each other," he said Monday on The Rush Limbaugh Show. "They're bound by hate. They're both bound by racism, yet pretend they have nothing in common. By all means investigate what happened in Charlottesville. Who were the organizers? Who funded them? Nothing would surprise me with the Antifa. I want to know.
"I want an in-depth investigation of just what happened and who these people are because we already know how these people operated during the Republican primaries at Trump rallies. We know they were bought and paid for and they were trained by a guy named Robert Creamer, who is married to a Democrat member of Congress. George Soros is in the mix as well. But you're not supposed to say any of this today. No, you can't say this today. Today is reserved for 100 percent condemnation of Trump and his association with these right-wing -- so-called right-wing fringe groups." The white supremacists aren't really right-wing, according to Limbaugh; he said white supremacists are, like Antifa groups, "extreme leftists."
By the way, the allegation about Creamer, a political consultant who is married to U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, comes from the widely discredited right-wing activist James O'Keefe. No one should take it seriously, but some of Limbaugh's listeners do.
In a column carried on BarbWire, Sylvia Thompson, a writer who's new to us, had her own conspiracy allegations. "It is very likely Deep State operatives infiltrated the ranks of Unite the Right," she wrote. "Their aim? To subvert the protesters' goal of legitimately opposing the Left's attempts to deny them a voice. And, of course, the goal of the Deep State is to scuttle President Trump's efforts in behalf of these citizens."
Townhall contributor John Hawkins (he's one of the fringier types on the site) blamed the "liberal media" for Charlottesville. "The liberal media is almost entirely responsible for growing the Alt-Right merger of hate groups and internet trolls," he wrote. "Most people are well aware of the stifling political correctness that reached an apex under Barack Obama. People are sick and tired of being attacked and scolded by the humorless left-wing thought police every time they stray from the latest liberal doctrine."
He also claimed that white supremacists like Richard Spencer and David Duke are nobodies in the conservative movement, but the media focuses on them, while "vicious anti-white rhetoric" is mainstream on the left. "The same mainstream media that has elevated the Alt-Right has been silent as violence has increasingly become a mainstay at liberal protests, including the counter-protest of this event," Hawkins contended, although he did allow that the man who drove his car into a group of counterprotesters, resulting in the death of one and injuries to several others, was apparently on the side of the supremacists.
To World Net Daily commentator Jesse Lee Peterson, the clash of protesters in Charlottesville happened because "white people are under attack -- especially white, straight, conservative Christian men of power." (Peterson, by the way, is black.) "The children of the lie hate them because they represent good," he continued. "They love truth, freedom, responsibility, the values that make America great."
But "evil," he went on, has led black and Hispanic men to abandon their family responsibilities, and it's starting to affect white men as well, making them "take a timid, people-pleasing, apologizing approach toward their wives in the home, and toward angry blacks and others in the world."
He added, "I have interviewed and exhorted Alt-Right figures, including Richard Spencer, Christopher Cantwell and others, not to go with anger and blame, not to put their identity in physical things such as 'white identity,' but in what's right, or they will suffer spiritually the way blacks, liberal women, radical homosexuals and others do." Yes, uppity women, blacks, and gays are complicit, naturally.
Some other post-Charlottesville rhetoric was aimed another of the far right's bete noires, Planned Parenthood. Breitbart columnist Susan Berry took the organization to task for its antiracism statements in the wake of the Charlottesville event, claiming Planned Parenthood is itself racist and seeks to reduce the black population via abortion. She quoted several right-wing sources, such as Virginia minister and failed political candidate E.W. Jackson, to support her assertion that founder Margaret Sanger was out to exterminate blacks and that Planned Parenthood continues on this path.
Of course, that's not true. Planned Parenthood has an extensive fact sheet here debunking such claims. And NPR, in response to then-presidential hopeful Ben Carson's 2015 assertion that Sanger was racist, did a great fact-checking article that stated, "Her attitude toward African-Americans can certainly be viewed as paternalistic, but there is no evidence she subscribed to the more racist ideas of the time or that she coerced black women into using birth control. In fact, for her time, as The Washington Post noted, 'she would likely be considered to have advanced views on race relations.'"
That's it for this time -- we'll be back next week with more gleaned from reading the far right so you don't have to.