Opinion: If you’ve noticed, it’s Charlottesville every day now

Every day is a Charlottesville now, but hardly anyone notices.

The small central Virginia city is a metonymy for the 2017 white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally that created national shock waves and rocked the presidency of Donald J. Trump.

The antisemitic rhetoric and menacing nature of that event — in a different, left-wing form — are being replicated all over the country in openly hateful pro-Hamas protests.

Outside the White House last weekend, anti-Israel protestors wore terrorist headbands; chanted for Hamas and Hezbollah to “kill another solider now,” and “kill another Zionist now”; held up signs urging another “intifada,” or intense period of terrorist attacks on the Jewish state; and vandalized statues.

A few days later, a mob showed up outside a New York City exhibit memorializing the 10/7 terror attack on the Nova music festival. They waved Hezbollah and Hamas flags, and held up banners saying, “Long live October 7th,” and “The Zionists are not Jews and not humans.” On a subway car, members of the mob demanded to know if there were any “Zionists” present, offering them a “chance to get out.”

Meanwhile, at UCLA, a mob set up an encampment and assaulted an independent journalist and rabbi, who was told that he is a pedophile and that he should go back to Poland or Ukraine.

And on it goes. At California State University Los Angeles, a rabble vandalized an administration building and barricaded the school’s president inside.

In New York City, the townhouse of the Jewish president of the Brooklyn Museum was splashed with red paint and emblazoned with an upside down red triangle, another Hamas symbol.

The Unite the Right rally featured brawls between the white nationalists and counterprotesters, and a homicide when one enraged member of the alt-right rammed into counterdemonstrators with his car. The mayhem at the pro-Hamas rallies hasn’t reached that level, but the content and conduct are broadly the same as the “tiki torch” march on the grounds of the University of Virginia the night before the main Charlottesville rally.

The pro-Hamas slogans aren’t any better than the infamous “Jews won’t replace us” chant of the tiki-torchers, and, in fact, are more openly genocidal and violent. And there are the same angry confrontations with bystanders and threatening behavior.

In other words, most of the pro-Hamas actions are on the order of a KKK rally that isn’t intensely violent, but results in property destruction and various altercations, with COVID masks to hide the identity of the perpetrators substituting for white hoods.

Yes, there have been denunciations of the pro-Hamas protests, including from the White House and even Squad member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (the hideous protest outside the NYC music-festival exhibit was too much even for her).

Still, there’s not the same sense of national crisis as there’d be if white supremacists were showing up all over the country and agitating against Jews and vandalizing property. Can you imagine the headlines and nightly news reports? Nor is there the same overwhelming media drumbeat condemning anyone associated with the protesters or their worldview. Substitute swastikas or confederate flags for the pro-terrorist symbols, chants of “blood and soil” for “from the river to the sea,” and calls for “Anschluss” for calls for “intifada,” and it’d be a very different situation. The backlash would be intense and irresistible — it’d be all anyone was talking about, and excuses for, or coddling of, the protesters would be considered intolerable.

Instead, because not all Jew hatred, political extremism and support for terrorism are viewed the same, the pro-Hamas protests are more or less background noise. While the White House has distanced itself from the excesses, it has also clearly shifted its Israel policy to try to accommodate the pro-Hamas protestors.

So, to be more precise, the anti-Israel agitation is like Charlottesville — if that event spawned disruptions all over the country and succeeded in shifting national policy in its direction, rather than discrediting its own odious cause.

— Rich Lowry is a columnist with King Features Syndicate.


Welcome to the new LJWorld.com. Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.