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Richard Spencer’s ‘Torch-Wielding Mob’ Is Pathetic. But It’s Also Free Speech.

The alt-right leader says the people who want to punch him are "actually kind of right."

On Saturday, alt-right figurehead Richard Spencer led a protest in Charlottesville—described by some as a "torch-wielding mob," since protesters carried tiki torches—against the city council's decision to remove a statue of Confederate war hero Robert E. Lee.

"You will not replace us," Spencer said at one of the rallies, according to The Washington Post. "You will not destroy us."

Some protesters denied that they were motivated by white supremacy.

"We're not white supremacists, we are simply just white people that love our heritage, our culture, our European identity," said protester Orry Von Dize, giving the textbook definition of white supremacy.

A couple things. First, whether or not the city decides to honor Lee with a statue in a public park is up to the council. A park is not the same thing as a public university, where removing statues of important people smacks of erasing history and being doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. Furthermore, Lee isn't Thomas Jefferson or George Washington: deeply flawed, slave-owning men who are nevertheless rightly remembered for their great achievements. Lee is best known for commanding the army that fought to preserve slavery. I agree with The Washington Post's Ilya Somin that there is a clear difference between honoring someone like Lee or Jefferson Davis, and honoring Jefferson.

So getting rid of the Lee statute does not seem like political-correctness-run-amok to me. In any case, it doesn't matter, because the city council has the right to remove it.

At the same time, people have the right to advocate against this change, which is what Spencer's gang was doing on Saturday: engaging in constitutionally protected political speech. The content of the speech is deeply sinister, and indeed, racist. The University of Virginia students who interpreted the protest as an attempt "to intimidate minority members of our community" are not wrong to view it that way. But even so, Spencer's actions fall within the bounds of the First Amendment, and we ought to support the preservation of broad free speech protections, even for people whose speech we rightly despise.

That's the standard, ACLU-approved, civil libertarian position on free speech, but it seems to be losing currency with the left these days. Why should we extend political rights to people whose political goals are opposed to ours? is, as far as I can tell, an increasingly popular notion among the antifascist, anti-Trump resistance movement. So here's an additional reason to support free speech, even for people like Spencer: taking away his free speech proves you're in agreement with him about something.

Let me explain. Spencer was recently profiled (again) by a national news outlet—this time, it was The Atlantic. The interview, conducted by a former high school classmate of Spencer's, is a fascinating study of his evolution from a mediocre, uninterested student into the intellectual leader of an online far-right troll community. But Spencer's most revealing comment came in response to a question about a familiar subject: taking a punch in the face on Inauguration Day.

"I have a right as a citizen to walk the streets and not be attacked, and I have the right to be protected," he complained.

Spencer was obviously right when he said he should not be assaulted. But we both could taste the irony in the situation. If he hadn't caught himself, he might have started talking about his "human right" not to be brutalized with impunity. Instead he recovered, and used the irony to his advantage. "The fact that they are excusing violence against Richard Spencer inherently means that they believe that there's a state of exception, where we can use violence," he said. "I think they're actually kind of right."

Maybe they're right: it is okay to use violence against people solely because they disagree with you. That was Spencer's takeaway. This shouldn't come as much of a surprise. According to the tenets of fascism—the political viewpoint with which the alt-right clearly has the most in common—dissenting opinions should be ground into dust.

So don't let Spencer hold ridiculous protest events just because of the First Amendment. Let him do it because if you punch Spencer, rather than letting him speak, you're really sort of agreeing with him—and he with you.

Photo Credit: Zach D. Roberts/NurPhoto/TNS/Newscom

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  • Sylvie1||

    Robby, Robby, Robby. The textbook definition of "white supremacy" requires that, in addition to being white people who "love our heritage, our culture, our European identity," they must also believe in the superiority of the same, and its right to dominate society. These are important components, do not you think?

    Otherwise, any African-American who says s/he "loves our heritage, our culture, our African identities," would be guilty of promoting black supremacy.

  • ||

    Racialism is fucking retarded, but that statement is hardly "white supremacy".

    WTF Robby? WTF? Have you never heard actual white supremacists talk? I won't even go into the comparisons to black pride.

  • Quixote||

    Until we change some of them there libel laws we have in this darn country, anyone, including Mr. Soave as well as Mr. Spencer, is free to politely and appropriately express any opinion he likes. That's a very different matter from the outrageous propositions contained in the "First Amendment dissent" of a single, isolated judge in America's leading criminal "satire" case. See the documentation at:

    http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    An Jonest Look at the Alt Right by Sargon of Akkad

    Reading Robby's hamfisted articles on alt right things, that border on textbook journalistic dishonesty, made me want to get a more objective grasp on wtf the alt right even is beyond a SJW boogieman in the night. That lead me to this Sargon of Akkad video, which I found to be pretty good and would recommend it to those looking for a neutral take on alt right politics.

  • GILMORE™||

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    Give me lederhosen or give me death...

  • Mark22||

    The textbook definition of "white supremacy" requires that, in addition to being white people who "love our heritage, our culture, our European identity," they must also believe in the superiority of the same

    Well, I certainly believe in the supremacy of European heritage, culture, and identity, as do most Europeans, and as does anybody with even a remote understanding of history. The association of that culture with light skin color, on the other hand, however, is a historical accident. Anybody, regardless of skin color or ethnic origin, is free to adopt the values and culture of classical liberalism and free markets.

    The racists are those people who believe that culture and skin color are inextricably linked; you find those people mostly among Democrats, civil rights leaders, and progressives these days.

  • DarrenM||

    Good comment.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    MAKE AMERICA WHITE AGAIN!

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    According to the tenets of fascism—the political viewpoint with which the alt-right clearly has the most in common—dissenting opinions should be ground into dust.

    Deplorables object.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Oddly enough, the tenets of anti-fa also hold the same thing.

  • colorblindkid||

    I still consider the people going around tearing down statues to be a far bigger threat to American values than these white supremacists.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Look, if the south wanted their statues then they shouldn't have lost.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Seeing as the people in this case are elected representatives, perhaps "if the south wanted their statues" they shouldn't have voted for people that didn't?

  • ||

    "...protester Orry Von Dize, giving the textbook definition of white supremacy."

    Here is the Dictionary (not a textbook, but close enough) definition of White Supremacy: "a person who believes that the white race is inherently superior to other races and that white people should have control over people of other races"

    i realize Richard Spencer and many of his followers actually are White Nationalists at the very least (who believe in a white's only nation), but please stop conflating a pride or appreciation in ones ethnicity and heritage as "supremacy". All it does it redefine terms in a way to paint a broad swath of people in a light that is not accurate.

    The KEY component of supremacist is a belief in the inherent SUPERIORITY of something.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    All it does it redefine terms in a way to paint a broad swath of people in a light that is not accurate.

    And of course, calling people who are not actually racists "white supremacists" always calms things right the fuck down. /sarc

  • DJF||

    """"escribed by some as a "torch-wielding mob," since protesters carried tiki torches"""

    First they came for the protesters wielding tiki torches, and I did nothing.

  • Fascist loofa-faced shitgibbon||

    Cultural appropriation against Polynesians. Kind of embarrassing for a "white's only" group.

  • Longtobefree||

    Read a history book written by a Virginian. It took Lee months to settle his battle of conscience and choose his home state over the country that he had served with distinction for 32 years. He was first in his class at West Point, was commended for distinguished service in the Mexican war. He was in a family with military traditions. His father was a leader in the American revolution against England, His son also was first in his class at West Point. His initial entry in to the conflict was as a commander of the Virginia Militia.
    There is evidence that he personally opposed slavery, even while married into a family with large slave holdings. The Custis family slaves were freed in 1862.
    After the war, he was instrumental in greatly improving Washington College, actively recruiting from the north to speed reconciliation.
    To hear it from the man himself, read The Wartime Papers of R. E. Lee,

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    I don't have a problem with Lee. I have a problem with white nationalist Trumptards using him as a symbol of freedom.

  • Fascist loofa-faced shitgibbon||

    Retard.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Fuckmouth.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    That's the least of your problems, shreek.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    There is evidence that he personally opposed slavery

    I saw this article a while age. It's pretty interesting:

    Through victory an entirely new social order was to be established that would alter the relationship between the races forever. Unlike so many other Southerners, Lee embraced the new order.
    ...
    One Sunday at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Richmond, a well-dressed, lone black man, whom no one in the community—white or black—had ever seen before, had attended the service, sitting unnoticed in the last pew.

    Just before communion was to be distributed, he rose and proudly walked down the center aisle through the middle of the church where all could see him and approached the communion rail, where he knelt. The priest and the congregation were completely aghast and in total shock.

    No one knew what to do…except General Lee. He went to the communion rail and knelt beside the black man and they received communion together...

    I don't know, but that doesn't sound like the actions of a white supremacist to me.

  • Cynical Asshole||

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    DON'T FUCK WITH THE PROGTARD MEME IF YOU KNOW WHAT IS GOOD FOR YOU.

  • creech||

    Lee was not first in his class at the Point. Charles Mason was, and he pursued a career in Wiisconsin and Iowa politics.
    Lee accepted his general's stars in the Virginia State forces before his resignation was accepted from the U.S. Army.
    Lee's father in law gave him a maximum of five years to manumit the Custis slaves. Lee took every day of those five years before doing so. There is correspondence after the War where Lee urges his fellow Southerners to not hire black people. Oh, and some historians can make a credible case for Lee's military tactics causing the downfall of Southern arms.

  • DarrenM||

    From what I've read of Robert E. Lee, he was an extremely honorable man who should be emulated. He's better than the great majority of politicians that every lived. To try to erase any mention of him from the public is despicable and cowardly. (Jefferson Davis you can have.)

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I came to the comments to see if people latched on to the textbook thing. I have to say I'm a little disappointed that it wasn't everyone.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    "Orry Von Dize"? Sounds... ethnic.

  • GILMORE™||

    I have to say I'm a little disappointed that it wasn't everyone.

    well, in fairness, there were also other incredibly-stupid things to focus on.

  • Free Society||

    Robby is nothing if not incredibly, implausibly, astoundingly -- stupid.

  • Fascist loofa-faced shitgibbon||

    " A park is not the same thing as a public university, "

    Not the same thing, but maybe the same species.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    "I have a right as a citizen to walk the streets and not be attacked,

    True.

    and I have the right to be protected," he complained.

    False.

    Anyway, you know who else has marched through the streets of Charlottesville carrying tiki torches? Me and a bunch of my friends. I forget why because beer, but Richard Spencer is totally poaching our thing and that is Not Okay.

  • BJK||

    Yes and no depending on context. In this country all are protected by the bill of Rights. But no individual person must protect him. Not even police or any other public funded rescue service unless they choose to. At least not in a libertarian society. All are protected by the non aggression principle in a libertarian society. Sadly this country is far from libertarian.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Broadly speaking, the government reacts to crimes. It doesn't do a very good job of deterring them.

    So if someone punches Richard Spencer, he can reasonably expect the government to seek justice for the assault on his behalf, but it's not reasonable for him to expect the government to prevent the assault.

  • SIV||

    the city council has the right to remove it

    In cuckotopia, governments have all the rights.

  • mtrueman||

    Whereas in SIVtopia, statues have rights.

  • GILMORE™||

    I don't know if Robby has bothered to investigate the topic at all (i assume not; yadda yadda columbia journalism school,etc)

    ...but whether or not the city council has "the right" to remove the statue has been legally disputed

    http://www.nbc29.com/story/344.....gal-issues

    [VA] state law prohibits localities from removing memorials to war veterans, including Confederate Army soldiers. A judge ruled last year that the law only applies to monuments put up since 1998. The statue of Lee in Charlottesville was presented to the city in 1924.

    Former United States Attorney Tim Heaphy says he won't take a position on whether or not the statue of Lee should be moved, but says it's clearly against the law as currently written.

    "My guess is if the City Council decided to vote to move the statue, there would probably be an immediate temporary restraining order filed. And a judge would have to quickly determine whether that lawsuit has potential, if so it might freeze the action before the city's decision goes into effect," Heaphy said.

    Loudoun County faced a similar situation when a local NAACP branch wanted to remove a Confederate statue outside the county courthouse. In that case the county interpreted the law to mean they could not remove the statue.

    In short, his claim that the city council has some inherent unilateral 'right' to do whatever it wants is inaccurate

  • Domestic Dissident||

    Also, nobody should kid themselves for a moment, once Robert E. Lee has been completed erased from the public square, the Weigelian left wing scumbags are definitely going after George Washington and Thomas Jefferson next.

  • Azathoth!!||

    "The fact that they are excusing violence against Richard Spencer inherently means that they believe that there's a state of exception, where we can use violence," he said. "I think they're actually kind of right."

    They are 'actually kind of right'.

    Self-defense.We can use violence in self defense.

  • Fascist loofa-faced shitgibbon||

    That's the way I understood it too. I'm not saying that's the way he meant it but it is possible.

  • Crusty Juggler aka "Chad"||

    "We're not white supremacists, we are simply just white people that love our heritage, our culture, our European identity," said protester Orry Von Dize, giving the textbook definition of white supremacy.

    Which textbook did you get that from?

  • Cynical Asshole||

    The Book of Woke History?

  • Dick Puller, Attorney at Law||

    In 1997, he graduated from St. Mark's School of Texas. In 2001, Spencer received a B.A. with High Distinction in English Literature and Music from the University of Virginia and, in 2003, an M.A. in the Humanities from the University of Chicago. He spent the summer of 2005 and 2006 at the Vienna International Summer University.[15] From 2005 to 2007, he was a doctoral student at Duke University studying modern European intellectual history, where he was a member of the Duke Conservative Union.[13] His website says he left Duke "to pursue a life of thought-crime."[16]

    Yep. That's an indifferent student if ever I saw one.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    In 2001, Spencer received a B.A. with High Distinction in English Literature and Music from the University of Virginia

    Shit, he was there same time as i was.

  • OGREtheTroll||

    Christ Robby, just go on and jump ship to HuffPo and save everybody here the time and trouble of reading this virtue-signaling dreck. Thats clearly where you belong.

    Points of contention:

    A) Lee was far more than just "the commander of the army that fought to preserve slavery." Read a book.
    B) Spencer is not the "intellectual leader" of the alt-right; most of them hate him.
    C) The alt-right is not "fascist." It may be nationalist, as in nationalist vs globalist, but thats not the real issue with fascism or nazism now is it? the alt-right is not authoritarian, which is where the complaint against fascism lies. Nor does it favor regulated economies, aside from a nation using tariffs to protect its economic interests.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Robby is wrong and ignorant and he doesn't care that he's wrong and ignorant, but let's be careful not to let Robby's silliness push us too far in the other direction.

  • JuanQPublic||

    "the alt-right is not authoritarian"

    The alt right may not be fascist, in the correct application of the word, but the general tone and rhetoric is most certainly authoritarian, and it's beyond baffling as to how someone would not consider it as such.

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    Kinda like Jefferson: He loved his slaves and rarely whipped his dogs.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Picking on Lee because of the side he fought for is getting it all wrong. They certainly aren't doing it because Lee was a slaveholder. George Washington was a slaveholder. Is anybody going around demanding his effigy be taken down?

    Ulysses S. Grant was a slaveholder. His objection to the South seceding was about his ideas of loyalty and treason--not about opposition to slavery. Is anybody going around demanding Grant's effigy be taken down?

    Robert E. Lee defended Virginia from what would be called atrocities were they committed today. In Lee's absence, Sheridan and others used their armies to directly target Virginia's civilians--and the Union armies didn't differentiate in their atrocities between civilians who were slaveholders and civilians who were not. They were war criminals. They'd call what Sheridan and others did "ethnic cleansing" if it happened today.

    When Sheridan used his army to attack the non-slaveholding farmers of the Shenandoah Valley, historians are quick dismiss it as an unfortunate example of early modern warfare. When Sheridan did the same thing in the Indian Wars a few years later, they use the word "massacre". It's mostly about liking some victims more than others.

  • damikesc||

    Picking on Lee because of the side he fought for is getting it all wrong. They certainly aren't doing it because Lee was a slaveholder. George Washington was a slaveholder. Is anybody going around demanding his effigy be taken down?

    Today? No. In a few years, it is almost a guarantee.

    Ulysses S. Grant was a slaveholder. His objection to the South seceding was about his ideas of loyalty and treason--not about opposition to slavery. Is anybody going around demanding Grant's effigy be taken down?

    Today? No. In a few years, it is almost a guarantee.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Did Robert E. Lee ever perpetrate such atrocities? He's admired by the people of Virginia for standing up against overwhelming odds for Virginia and doing so honorably. He was offered command of the Army of the Potomac but couldn't bring himself to raise arms against Virginia. His decision to surrender at Appomattox could have gone differently--and turned into an insurgency, too. Lee is a symbol of honorable resistance--and he's a symbol for honorable surrender, too.

    Robert E. Lee is the antithesis of the Klan.

    The perverse thing about this is that progressives are turning Robert E. Lee into a symbol for racism and for the cause of slavery--which he wouldn't be otherwise. It's side over principle--and that's all it is. Is using the military to target non-slaveholding civilians justified because of the side of the perpetrators? Can't defending against slash and burn campaigns be done admirably?

  • mtrueman||

    Are you prepared to denounce Lee on any grounds? He led an army that relied on theft. There were press gangs who forced people to serve and worse besides. Isn't Lee a tax parasite of the first order according to Libertarian principles.

    Impressment was the informal and then, beginning in March 1863, the legislated policy of the Confederate government to seize food, fuel, slaves, and other commodities to support armies in the field during the American Civil War (1861–1865). The tax-in-kind law, passed a month later, allowed the government to impress crops from farmers at a negotiated price. Combined with inflationary prices and plummeting morale following military defeats, impressment sparked vocal protests across the South. Discontent was exacerbated by what was perceived as the government's haphazard enforcement of the law, its setting of below-market prices, and its abuse of labor. As a result, citizens hoarded goods and in some cases even impersonated impressment agents in an effort to steal commodities.

  • damikesc||

    The CSA, absolutely, became one of the most fascist and tyrannical regimes out there as it fell. This is obscured by their loss and that the only people who seem to care about the Civil War are Southerners, but the CSA became everything it claimed to hate without many qualms.

  • EscherEnigma||

    "It's side over principle--and that's all it is."
    Something Lee would understand.

  • Johnny Lawrence||

    Yep. A guy that left his side (the United States Army) due to his principle (of not taking up arms against his neighbors). What an unprincipled asshole.

  • chipper me timbers||

    " His website says he left Duke "to pursue a life of thought-crime."

    I have to admit that's a pretty good line.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    "We're not white supremacists, we are simply just white people that love our heritage, our culture, our European identity," said protester Orry Von Dize, giving the textbook definition of white supremacy.

    I would have thought the "textbook definition" of white supremacy would be a belief that white people are inherently superior to other races. Or is it just assumed that it's impossible for someone to express a love of their heritage and culture without also being a racial supremacist? Does this apply to other races as well, or just EVUL white people, because "privilege?" If a BLM protestor were to say "we are simply just black people that love our heritage, our culture, our African identity," would that be considered black supremacy? Maybe the textbooks have been updated since I was in school to be more "woke."

  • GILMORE™||

    I would have thought the "textbook definition" of white supremacy would be a belief that white people are inherently superior to other races.

    That's because you don't have the latest edition of the Handbook of Journalistic Wokeness & Rhetorical Equivocation

  • Wise Guy||

    That's funny.

  • Wise Guy||

    How is loving your heritage, culture, and identity being a supremist? Is that only true for white people? If I'm black, Asian, Muslim, or Hispanic am I a supremist if I love my heritage, culture, and identity?

  • Domestic Dissident||

    The entire "progressive" theology is that white people, and especially patriotic white men, are uniquely and inherently evil, deserving of condemnation, and thus cannot permitted to be proud of anything.

    It's also arguably a shrewd idea politically when you've combined it with the political strategy of making whites a minority in every country in the world.

  • Dallas H.||

  • Rebel Scum||

    Lee is best known for commanding the army that fought to preserve slavery.

    Alternatively, since the vast majority of the southern population did not own slaves and were in competition with slave labor and wanted to avoid tariff taxes that had been doubled shortly before Lincoln took office, Lee commanded the army that fought to avoid excessive and unnecessary taxation. We should also recall that Lee saw his duty to his home (Virginia) and that his home did not vote to secede (something that is the right of every state, given that the fedgov was never granted the authority to prevent it for any reason) until the Lincoln admin called on it to raise a force to invade other seceding states, having originally voted to remain in union. Or we can continue to pretend that the war was fought over a tertiary issue that wasn't made significant until it became a political ploy for the admin when the war in the mid-atlantic was going poorly for Lincoln.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Robby has no idea what he's writing about, and Robby doesn't care that he has no idea what he's writing about.

    Robby isn't even trying to troll you. He's simply clueless--and he doesn't care. If being clueless makes you mad, then that's icing on the cake--but he isn't even trying.

    Ever heard the old maxim, "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity"? Stupidity adequately explains this article--and dozens of others that have been written by Robby.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    I've mostly been resistant to the Robby Derangement Syndrome that infects these comments. Seems like a nice naive kid who might someday outgrow his silliness. But this is a flaming pile of fact free, dishonest, anti liberty excrement. My resistance to infection is pretty low right now. Maybe I'll recover tommorrow.

  • ||

    Or we can continue to pretend that the war was fought over a tertiary issue that wasn't made significant until it became a political ploy

    Well - let's not go so far that we're indulging in another set of fictions.

    In its "Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union:" South Carolina cited "an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery," which "led to a disregard of their obligations" to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act.

    This wasn't "one of many reasons" expressed. It's literally the only one.

    Texas mentioned failure to defend white Texans from non-white foreigners, but also largely focuses on slavery. AFAIK, only Georgia presented Northern economic protectionism as an "also-ran" in addition to defending the institution of slavery. Other declarations have vague language of tyranny, but slavery is overwhelmingly the only specific issue mentioned.

    See also: Alexander Stephens' "Cornerstone Speech."

    Yes, there's a simplistic narrative that says the Civil War was only about slavery. But to pretend that slavery was somehow a "tertiary issue" that was only emphasized by the North as a political smear is indulging in at least a similar level of fantasy.

  • Unreconstructed (Sans Flag)||

    I had a similar discussion on Derpbook with some friends - quoting the reasons for secession doesn't actually explain the start of war. As I pointed out there, war started when Federal forces refused to leave South Carolina territory (which, due to secession, was no longer part of the United States, and so the U.S. Army was trespassing). War was started by the Union forces - not over slavery, but over secession. The Civil War was, in my opinion, the grand culmination of the arguments between the Federalist and anti-Federalist movements from the late 1700s.

    Slavery was a flashpoint for the conflict, but it was far from the only factor, especially on the Union side.

  • ||

    quoting the reasons for secession doesn't actually explain the start of war.

    That's putting sort of a fine point on it, don't you think? Not unlike saying that the Revolutionary War was not really about the reasons stated in the Declaration of Independence - that was just the cause of secession not the cause of the war.

    The Southern States essentially said "we've been treated badly, and we've put up with it until now, but Northern States are not respecting Slaves as Our Property, and Enough is Enough." To say that the Civil War was caused exclusively by the North's refusal to recognize the right of secession is a bit disingenuous.

    Slavery was a flashpoint for the conflict, but it was far from the only factor, especially on the Union side.

    Which is why I said:

    there's a simplistic narrative that says the Civil War was only about slavery. But to pretend that slavery was somehow a "tertiary issue" that was only emphasized by the North as a political smear is indulging in at least a similar level of fantasy.
  • Ken Shultz||

    Attaching a single motive to millions of people is always problematic.

    750,000 men fought for the South. They didn't all do so for the exact same reason.

  • Sigivald||

    Sure - I mean, probably most of them just wanted to protect their homes, friends, and families from an invader.

    But when we speak of the motives of a war, we tend to mean those animating the declaration of hostilities and the ongoing motives of the organizing powers, not the motives of individual fighters*.

    (* Which in many cases boil down to something like "avoid getting jailed or killed for refusing to fight".)

  • Free Society||

    And the motive was secession. Lincoln didn't send federal troops to the south to abolish slavery. He sent troops to prevent secession. Slavery was already (federally) legal after Lincoln's election and the Union even had slave states in it after hostilities broke out. Secession might well have been about slavery, that fact doesn't elevate Lincoln's decision to launch a disastrous war.

  • Johnimo||

    In many ways Lincoln did "launch a disastrous war" to bring the seceding States back into the Union. However, how much more disastrous might it have been to let slavery survive into the 20th century?

    That war needed to be fought, the sooner the better. Southerners were loath to admit their moral mistake.

  • damikesc||

    With no war, slavery was likely dead inside of 10 years regardless. Cotton was being grown in more and more places (which is why England didn't have a burning need to side with the Confederacy), so the entire Southern economic model was going to collapse no matter what.

  • DarrenM||

    Slavery may have been one (or even the main) reason for seceding, but that was not necessarily the reason for the North invading the South. Lincoln used the issue of slavery as partial justification for this invasion. Most people would not have been too enthusiastic about risking their lives just to prevent another state from seceding.

  • GILMORE™||

    whether or not the city decides to honor

    this idea that every public monument is an act of "honoring" is entirely contrived. Not every monument is a one-dimensional, wholly-positive 'celebration' of the subject.

    Whether a personage or event is deemed "good" or "bad" by subsequent history doesn't diminish its historical significance, which is the primary reason public monuments are established = to ensure that we retain a memory of certain events and personages and continue to remind ourselves of their significance.

    You can chinstroke all you want about whether you personally think Lee is more or less "important" than figure X,Y, or Z, but its arbitrary calculus that simply masks an anti-intellectual desire to erase unpopular subjects from history.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    Well said.

  • Johnimo||

    Amen.

  • GILMORE™||

    Spencer was recently profiled (again) by a national news outlet—this time, it was The Atlantic.

    And as noted yesterday - Reason magazine is mentioned in the first sentence =

    On December 17, 2007, the libertarian magazine Reason held a Christmas bash—a "Very Special, Very Secular Christmas Party"—at its office in Washington, D.C. The guest of honor, the late Atlantic book critic Christopher Hitchens, tugged liberally on his drink and gave a speech about how the holiday season was oppressive ("like living in fucking North Korea"). Then near the height of his powers as an anti-theist pamphleteer, Hitchens led the crowd in a tuneless rendition of Tom Lehrer's "A Christmas Carol," before slipping away and leaving the guests to the open bar and the mistletoe.

    Among those guests was a figure from my past. I had not seen Richard Spencer in more than 10 years....

    seems odd to skip past the fact that this publicly-reviled proto-hitler figure was rubbing shoulders with the author's employers not so long ago.

    Of course there are simple explanations, and Spencer wasn't even wearing a fashy haircut at the time for all we know, much less spewing White Power intellectualisms, .... but to avoid even noting that strange juxtaposition at all strikes me as pretty cowardly and lame

  • barfman2017||

    *barf*

    Fire Robby.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Lock the White Culture nits and the BLM morons in a room and then brick up all the exits.

  • Free Society||

    "We're not white supremacists, we are simply just white people that love our heritage, our culture, our European identity," said protester Orry Von Dize, giving the textbook definition of white supremacy.

    Jesus Christ you're stupid, Robby. I'm giving you credit by assuming you're stupid, because otherwise you would know damn well that does not even approach the actual definition of racial supremacy but you make this claim anyway because of what a dishonest piece of shit you are. I'm inclined to think you're just astoundingly stupid. I'm generous.

  • Cloudbuster||

    What a fucking load of crap this article is, from beginning to end, it mischaracterizes those who want to preserve our heritage and our culture.

    The Lee statue has been there for decades. Previous generations were not ignorant of who he was and what he did, nor were they racist -- they simply realized that what went on during the civil war was more complicated than a black & white good vs. evil narrative that's​ not even fit for school children no less presumed adults.

  • NoVaNick||

    According to the progs, if you are not an oppressed minority, multi-racial, gender-questioning, non-Democrat, you must be a White Nationalist who wants to restore The Confederate States of America. Until about a year ago, nobody gave much thought to the Robert E Lee after high school history class, and white nationalists were a fringe movement. Now, the progs are giving them and Spencer the attention they have always wanted.

  • DarrenM||

    They want to exaggerate the influence of "white supremacists" by labeling every political opponent (potential or actual) as one. Recall the hyperbolic rhetoric about the Tea Party. This way, they can justify their own fascist tendencies. It's disgusting.

  • Sigivald||

    giving the textbook definition of white supremacy.

    Shouldn't that, given its name, involve "thinking white people are ... superior"?

    I mean, I expect a lot of 'em to lie about that, since it's unpopular, and what the guy actually said is perfectly compatible with him being a white supremacist (and if one is not, it seems odd to protest removing a statue of Lee, specifically, all in all).

    But it ain't the textbook definition, not even close.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    Alright, I read the first 2 paragraphs. If Robby enters me in a 10 lottery I'll finish it. On the crapper.

  • Kevin O'Keeffe||

    "'We're not white supremacists, we are simply just white people that love our heritage, our culture, our European identity,' said protester Orry Von Dize, giving the textbook definition of white supremacy."

    That's not even CLOSE to the textbook definition of White Supremacy! The textbook definition would include something about Whites effectively lording it over supposedly lesser races. You sound like a schill for the SPLC.

  • J_West||

    "We're not white supremacists, we are simply just white people that love our heritage, our culture, our European identity," said protester Orry Von Dize, giving the textbook definition of white supremacy.
    _
    Which "textbook" defines "White Supremacy" in this fashion? Can Robby Soave state a title or ISBN?

    Would a libertarian who loved the heritage, culture and identity of liberty be a "supremacist?"

    Soave thinks he is making a clever remark, but he really has no clue, does he?

  • Longtobefree||

    Please don't ask Robby for sources, his head might explode.

  • Wise Guy||

    Does anyone find it odd that the author hasn't responded to these attacks on his article, especially when nobody has defended his position?

    Is he hiding under the covers in his mom's basement?

  • Mark22||

    This shouldn't come as much of a surprise. According to the tenets of fascism—the political viewpoint with which the alt-right clearly has the most in common—dissenting opinions should be ground into dust.

    Well, no. The "alt right" is simply a rejection of the "mainstream right", which its social conservatism, conformism, authoritarianism, and political opportunism.

    The primary characteristic of fascism is its embrace of collectivism and statism, and those are political viewpoints that are embraced foremost by progressives, socialists, and, to a lesser degree, fundamentalist Christians and social conservatives.

  • Davulek||

    Blacks actually ASKING to be segregated is far more disgusting.

  • DarrenM||

    "...the antifascist, anti-Trump resistance movement..."

    Let's have at least a little accuracy here.

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