And the fact that the police sided with the Nazis?

A tweet by @asmallteapot that reads: Emily’s stream is back. The cops stood aside and let hundreds of nazis stage a riot.

Last night, the “alt-right” staged a pro-Confederate rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. In a move that surprised no one — save those who have not been paying attention — the protesters were chanting English variants of famous Nazi slogans, “one people, one nation, stop immigration” [1] and “blood and soil” [2], as well as “Jew will not replace us” (new, if only because the pun doesn’t work in German).

People who rally to chant Nazi slogans and celebrate Nazi ideas are Nazis.

Full stop.

This is not up for debate.

But that’s not the worst of it.

A peaceful Nazi protest would have been one thing. Nazis do peaceful protests in the US fairly regularly. The US constitution guarantees the rights of free speech and free assembly, so no matter how odious their views are — and believing that your fellow citizens are not human and should be killable with impunity is an odious view — neither the federal nor the local governments can pass laws restricting those views. [3]

But last night’s gathering was not a peaceful protest: they came prepared for violence with counter-protesters. They brought torches — an ancient symbol of hope in small numbers, but a barely-veiled threat of burning someone alive in large ones. They brought mace. They used the mace, spraying the counter-protesters in the eyes. They threw punches. They used the torches as makeshift spears.

Last night was not a mere peaceful protest. It was a Nazi riot.

But that’s not the worst of it.

Eyewitness reports say that the police took the side of the Nazi rioters.

The police were present at the rally. They were not wearing riot gear. When black people hold peaceful protests, the cops wear riot gear, but apparently when a group of avowedly racist whites hold a rally that non-racists have pledged to counter-protest, they get completely taken by surprise when the interaction turns violent.

The Friday night rally was held without a gathering permit, and the rally organizers had been explicitly told they could not hold the rally at the location where the rally happened. Say what you will about laws regulating where and when people can protest, but those laws have generally been held up as constitutional, and the rally was in clear violation of the law. But the police were not there to arrest the rally-goers.

What happened — according to eyewitnesses — was that the police stood aside, watching the Nazis punch and mace the counter-protesters, including spraying mace in the eyes of one counter-protester in a wheelchair… until finally the Nazis went home, and then the police declared the counter-protesters to be an “unlawful assembly” and threatened them with arrest and physical harm.

This is not acceptable.

For years, but especially since Trump got elected, people have been murmuring “It can happen here.” Now we can stop saying that. Instead, we should say “It is happening here.

Unite the Right rioters openly carrying Confederate flags alongside a Nazi swastika flag.

Footnote 1

“One people, one nation, stop immigration” is a clear riff on “one people, one nation, one leader” (“ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer”), which comes from a famous speech by none other than Hitler himself.

Footnote 2

“Blood and soil” (“Blut und Boden”) was a pre-existing ethno-nationalist slogan that the Nazis eagerly adopted. The “soil” part is a reference to the value of rural living, as opposed to urban living. Basically, the idea being expressed by the slogan’s chanters is that cities have corrupted values, because of the fact that cities have more racial diversity than rural areas.

Footnote 3

A fact which is increasingly looking like a flaw in the US constitution. It’s strange that we carve out exceptions for “I will kill you” (illegal threat) and “this crowd should kill you” (inciting a crime), but not for “we should change the law so that it is legal for me to kill you” (protected speech, somehow).