On Monday Vice News and reporter Elle Reeves released Charlottesville: Race and Terror, pulling back the curtain on the rallies in Charlottesville this past weekend.
It's a fascinating, must-watch examination of the events leading to and following the car attack that killed Heather Heyer and injured 19 others on Saturday afternoon. It also provides an in-depth look at the rally's participants, their philosophies and motivations.
Foremost among them is rally architect Christopher Cantwell, an alt-white (my own catch-all term) organizer who makes no apologies for his racism or attempts to soften its edges. He's comfortable both calling names and calling for violence in support of his goals, and seems especially proud of his mini arsenal and the rally's results, up to and including the death of Heyer.
Now. You've probably also seen Donald Trump addressing the nation on Saturday to say the violence in Charlottesville came from "many sides," amending his statement on Monday to denounce the alt-white, then doubling down on the "both sides" angle during a press conference on Tuesday.
There's a lot I could say about Trump's comments, but many have already said it far better than I'm able to. Instead, I'll just ask you to watch the video--if you haven't already--and then ask yourself: Which side scares you more?
On Wednesday the following video from Christopher Cantwell hit the internet. In it, a tearful Cantwell reveals his feelings about the reactions to both the Charlottesville rallies and his appearance in the Vice News episode.
"Our enemies just will not stop..." he says. "They've fucking assaulted us, they are threatening us all over the place." A few moments later: "I do not want violence with you. I'm terrified, I'm afraid you're going to kill me." And finally, "Everybody and their mother wants to fucking ruin my life."
Suddenly, Cantwell finds himself on the other side of hate-filled words and actions. I hope it will bring him to an understanding of how it feels to be threatened, persecuted and endangered.