Alt-Right Isn’t Alright


Art by Julianne Kirby

Grace Berigan, Opinions Editor

The Unite the Right rally took place in Emancipation Park on August 12th and ended in the death of a counter-protester and intensified the division of our country. Having gone to Charlottesville on that day to counter-protest, I witnessed first-hand the aggressive and brutish nature of the Alt-Right. Being allowed freedom of speech and petition, the protestors of the statue’s removal were legally able to avoid prosecution. However, the exhibition of hate speech, despite its legality, should not be tolerated. Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old counter-protester, died due to the events at of the Unite the Right rally. Although James Alex Fields, an individual white nationalist, was the cause of Heyer’s death and the injuries of many counter-protesters.

It is reprehensible that the organizers of the rally were not also held responsible. “Bring whatever you need, that you feel you need for your self-defense. Do what you need to do for security of your own person, at this point… We don’t want [counter-protesters] to have the impression, that we are going to be showing up there, unarmed…that is not the case.” said Mike Peinovich, a prominent white nationalist. Apparently, the Alt-Right’s definition of a peaceful protest is toting around guns and clubs wrapped in Confederate flags. My opinion is that they shouldn’t have been there in the first place. If they want to have their own hate-fest, they should keep it to themselves. Modern America should have no tolerance for racism.

The Alt-Right holds beliefs such as white nationalism, white supremacy, anti-semitism, Neo-Nazism, and anti-feminism- all of which are incredibly small-minded and inflammatory. The United States has only just begun to transition into an age of equality, but this has been counteracted by the Alt-Right movement. This culture of bigotry and hate in this country is a 240-year-old tradition that needs to be extinguished. Charlottesville is an overwhelmingly progressive city, and should not be defined by its visits from the Alt-Right. Anyone who has been to Charlottesville knows that torchbearers do not march through the streets on a daily basis. Local businesses in Charlottesville, such as Cinema Taco, Mud House, and Skybar have put up signs and displayed their discontent with the rally. Western has taken steps to reinforce Charlottesville’s welcoming environment. Signs have been displayed around the school to advertise inclusion and acceptance, as well as student-run clubs to celebrate the diversity of both Western and Charlottesville. Despite all of this, the Alt-Right has yet to grasp that they don’t belong in Charlottesville.

Forty to fifty protesters returned to Charlottesville on the evening of October 8th. The rally took place for ten minutes in Emancipation Park before the police intervened. One protester said, “Hello, Charlottesville. We have a message. We’re back and we’re going to keep coming back.” Governor Mike Signer has spoken out against this movement and is striving to take legal action so that these white supremacists can not return. This approach is the right way to vanquish the Alt-Right. We need to push them out of our towns, and we need to keep pushing until their existence is merely an ugly piece of history.