The First Amendment: The New Gray Area?

Terrorism is not a subject we take lightly in the United States. As millennials, most of us are very familiar with the war on terrorism. For a little over two decades our nation has been fighting terrorists and our troops have been deployed to foreign countries to keep our country safe. But what happens when the terrorists that are causing harm to America and its citizens are citizens themselves? It’s sad to think that when some people think of terrorists their minds go straight to Muslims and Middle Eastern people, as if it’s taboo for us to think of white people as terrorists. I hate to break it to you, but white supremacists are terrorists. What happened in Charlottesville, Virginia was an act of terror. Although many Americans refuse to believe it as so.

When referencing the dictionary for the definition of terrorist it states, “a person who uses unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.” That is exactly what happened during the riots in Virginia. As crowds, which were composed primarily of white males, stormed the streets of Charlottesville with tiki torches in hand, they were met resentfully with those who oppose them. On one side voices screamed “White Lives Matter” and “Jews will not replace us” and opposite from them were chanting “Black Lives Matter.” When the opposing sides met face to face that Friday evening, there was hardly any violence, some shoving and a few people were maced, it wasn’t until the next day that we saw the really violent acts.

Some may argue that the riots that occurred in Virginia are protected under our First Amendment right, but I do not believe that to be the case. The First Amendment does not protect words or actions that incite violence, so the fact that the white supremacists and white nationalists arrived at Emancipation Park carrying sorts of weaponry leads me to believe that they anticipated for violence to occur. In a Vice documentary, white nationalist Christopher Cantwell states, “we’ll f***ing kill these people if we have to.” In the documentary we see groups of white nationalists, white supremacists and members of the Klu Klux Klan speaking about their plans for the rally and why they are there. Later in the documentary there is footage captured of the gray Charger that plowed into a crowd of counter protesters, that injured several people and killed one woman, Heather Heyer.

Heyer’s killer, identified as James Alex Fields Jr. has been charged with second degree murder. Many other racists who attended the rally and were captured on video and in pictures are being identified and are suffering severe consequences. Many students have been kicked out of school and others have been fired from their jobs. Some people have gone as far as disowning family members because of their association with the white supremacists. There are people who think that may be going too far, but I disagree with those people. Anyone who preaches hate and wishes to harm others because of their nationality should be severely punished. It seems as when we begin to make progress in our nation we take a downfall, two steps forward and one step back. This country should not stand for racism but for equality. Since Donald Trump got into office more and more racists are starting to cause more trouble. Thinking, “hey since our president does it, that gives me the right to do it too” but that is not how our country should be living.

    After the riot in Charlottesville many other people are beginning to riot all over the United States. Such as Boston, which was mostly peaceful, but new rallies are starting to emerge. This past weekend rallies in the Bay Area broke out, in San Francisco and in Berkeley. According to the Los Angeles Times the Bay Area police had been anticipating this rally and planning for weeks the amount of force they would need to use to make sure this rally didn’t break out in violence. If things like this aren’t making you angry, then you’re not paying attention.