GOP Congressman Claims Charlottesville’s Deadly White Nationalist Rally Was a Left-Wing Set-Up – Bryan SchatzSep. 14, 2017 5:06 PM

And that’s why Heather Heyer was killed?

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) at a cannabis conference in Berlin, Germany, in April 2016. Paul Zinken/AP

California’s Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher apparently believes the deadly white nationalist protests that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month were the result of a left-wing plot orchestrated to score political points against President Trump.

A profile published in the San Francisco Chronicle on Thursday exposes Rohrabacher’s alternative thinking:

Rohrabacher isn’t buying that conspiracy theory, but he’s deep into another — that Democrats were behind last month’s white nationalist riots in Charlottesville, Va. Oh, and calling them white nationalist riots is a liberal media deceit, he said.

“It’s all baloney,” Rohrabacher said.

Under Rohrabacher’s scenario, a former “Hillary and Bernie supporter” got Civil War re-enactors to gather under the guise of protecting a Robert E. Lee statue there.

“It was a setup for these dumb Civil War re-enactors,” Rohrabacher said. “It was left-wingers who were manipulating them in order to have this confrontation” and to “put our president on the spot.”

Those of you who are fans of conspiracy connoisseur and conservative commentator Alex Jones, host of “Info Wars,” will recognize that scenario as one of his dreamscapes, which is “Pants on Fire” groundless, according to the nonpartisan Politifact.

One wonders if Rohrabacher believes these same unidentified “left-wingers” were also somehow responsible for James Alex Fields Jr., who’d been protesting alongside white nationalists in Charlottesville, ramming his car into a crowd of counter-protesters and brutally killing Heather Heyer.

Rohrabacher—the pro-Russia, pro-Trump, pro-pot, embattled congressman from California’s 48th district—is facing a field of nine challengers in the 2018 primary. The DCCC has identified him as vulnerable, but as the Chronicle explains, unseating him won’t be easy—even if he continues to peddle such insane conspiracy theories.

Bryan Schatz is a reporter at Mother Jones. Reach him at

VMAs honor Charlottesville victim – BY ALICIA COHN – 08/27/17 11:13 PM EDT

The MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday night honored the woman killed during the Charlottesville, Va., rally earlier this month.

Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, presented the “Best Fight Against the System” award.

“My daughter was killed when she protested racism. I miss her but I know she’s here tonight,” Bro said on stage. “I have been deeply moved to see people across the world — the world — by her inspiration and her courage.”

An ancestor of Civil War general Robert E. Lee introduced Bro and together they denounced racism and white supremacists such as the ones that organized the Charlottesville rally. Heyer was killed when a driver plowed into a crowd of fellow counter protesters on Aug. 12.

The rally was organized to protest the removal of a statue of Lee.

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Why the ACLU is adjusting its approach to “free speech” after Charlottesville – Dara Lind Aug 20, 2017, 11:40am EDT

The ACLU positioned itself to lead the resistance. Now its deepest traditions could be at stake.

Evelyn Hockstein/The Washington Post via Getty

“The ACLU has blood on its hands.”

It was a not-uncommon sentiment in the wake of last week’s Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, in which 32-year-old Heather Heyer was killed (allegedly at the hands of white supremacist James Alex Fields Jr.) and far-right activists assaulted and intimidated counterprotesters.

The ACLU had sued the city of Charlottesville to allow the Unite the Right rally to happen downtown. And now, it had happened, and blood had been spilled.

The ACLU’s been through this cycle before. When the ACLU famously defended the rights of a Nazi group to march through a largely Jewish neighborhood in Skokie, Illinois, in the 1970s — a case that’s set the parameters of First Amendment protections for protests for the last 50 years — it lost thousands of members and faced bitter questions from liberal American Jews about how it could defend the group that had killed their relatives (and in some cases tortured them) just a few decades before.

But these aren’t the same Nazis who marched through Skokie, and this isn’t the same progressive movement — and it isn’t the same ACLU, either. The backlash has already spurred other ACLU chapters to declare that they don’t believe free-speech protections apply to events like the one in Charlottesville, and led the ACLU’s national director, Anthony Romero, to declare the group will no longer defend the right to protest when the protesters want to carry guns.

The ACLU’s response didn’t resolve the underlying problem. It didn’t fully address a criticism put forward everywhere from Twitter to the New York Times, which published a column from former ACLU volunteer K-Sue Park on Thursday called “The ACLU Needs to Rethink Free Speech.”

And with city governments already moving to restrict future far-right rallies to prevent a recurrence of what happened in Charlottesville — the city of Berkeley just passed an emergency ordinance allowing the police to dissolve gatherings that don’t have permits, for example, in anticipation of a forthcoming “alt-right” rally there — the ACLU is going to have to make some very quick decisions about when and how it will defend the far right in 2017.

The ACLU seemed like it was in the midst of a partial reinvention as an explicitly progressive organization for the Donald Trump era. It was one of the biggest beneficiaries from the #resistance groundswell of small donations and grassroots interest after the 2016 election, and it’s leaned into the idea of itself as a movement organization rather than just the country’s most powerful public-interest law firm.

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Militia leaders who descended on Charlottesville condemn ‘rightwing lunatics’ – Joanna Walters Tuesday 15 August 2017 14.12 EDT

Christian Yingling of the Pennsylvania Light Foot Milita (left) in Charlottesville on Saturday.
Christian Yingling, left, of the Pennsylvania Light Foot Milita in Charlottesville on Saturday. Photograph: Justin Ide/Reuters

With their loaded assault rifles and pistols, camouflage, combat boots and helmets, it looked like the army had descended on the pretty college town of Charlottesville, Virginia, as a white supremacy rally turned violent last weekend.

The US military did turn up, in fact, in the form of the Virginia national guard, otherwise known as the army reserve, called into service to back up the police when a state of emergency was declared at 11am on Saturday morning by Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, who told the far-right marchers to “go home”.

But they were not the most visible or heavily armed soldier types attempting to police the volatile crowd as rightwing extremists at the “Unite the Right” march were met with counter-demonstrators.

That distinction goes to the militia members brought together as a unit from a handful of the hundreds of unofficial paramilitary groups that have long thrived across America due to the second amendment’s directive: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

With their trigger fingers ready on their loaded, battlefield-style rifles, held across heavy-duty body armour, these quasi-troops turned heads as they murmured to each other via radios and headsets.

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POTUS pressured to dump nationalist wing – BY JONATHAN EASLEY AND JORDAN FABIAN – 08/15/17 06:00 AM EDT

Trump pressured to dump nationalist wing
© Greg Nash

Pressure is mounting on President Trump to dump his controversial chief strategist Stephen Bannon after this weekend’s racial violence in Charlottesville, Va., provoked widespread anger at the nationalist wing of Trump’s White House.

Democrats, and some Republican critics of Trump, are demanding he cut ties with Bannon, the former Breitbart News chairman who once described his site as the “platform for the alt-right.”

Adviser Sebastian Gorka, who once wrote for the publication, has also come under criticism.

“If he doesn’t want this to consume his presidency, he needs to purge anyone involved with the alt-right,” said Rick Tyler, the former campaign spokesperson for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).“Breitbart has become a pejorative … It has been a vehicle for the alt-right,” Tyler said. “You can’t allow the Oval Office to be a vehicle for the alt-right.”

That sentiment was echoed countless times over the weekend by a broad spectrum of Washington insiders, including establishment Republicans and Democratic lawmakers.

“If the president is sincere about rejecting white supremacists, he should remove all doubt by firing Steve Bannon and the other alt-right white supremacist sympathizers in the White House,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement Monday.

She said the president’s widely panned initial reaction to the Charlottesville violence was a “direct reflection of the fact” that Bannon “is an alt-right white supremacist sympathizer and a shameless enforcer of those un-American beliefs.”

When the president arrived back in Washington on Monday from his New Jersey golf club, he ignored a shouted question from a reporter about whether he’d fire Bannon and Gorka.

The White House did not respond when asked if the president still has confidence in Bannon and Gorka.

Bannon’s allies and Breitbart’s defenders are frustrated by what they view as the reactionary response to tar them as racists every time a racially-charged event takes over the news cycle.

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Republicans stand up to Trump over Charlottesville comments – NANCY COOK 08/13/2017 05:08 PM EDT

Members of his party are starting to carefully take on the president, though they have so far remained willing to work on his policy agenda.

Republican lawmakers this weekend took President Donald Trump to task over what they deemed a weak response to white supremacist groups and violent clashes in Charlottesville, Va., the latest sign that Trump’s grip on the party may be weakening.

The outspoken group included past Trump antagonists such as Sens. Ben Sasse, Jeff Flake and Marco Rubio, but it also included prominent conservative voices who aren’t known as fierce critics of the administration, such as Sens. Orrin Hatch and Cory Gardner.

The Republicans joined civil rights leaders and Democrats who reacted angrily when Trump said Saturday he condemned “this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides — on many sides.” His repetition of “many sides” struck critics as seeming to equate the white supremacist groups who organized the rally with counter-protesters, though the White House later sought to recast his statement to be more critical of hate groups.

One woman was killed and more injured Saturday when a car plowed into a group of counter-protesters. Police later charged a man who had been photographed holding a symbol of one of the groups that organized the Charlottesville event, the Associated Press reported.

“This isn’t a time for innuendo or to allow room to be read between the lines. This is a time to lay blame,” Gardner, a Coloradoan who is considered a rising star in the party, said on CNN Sunday.

“This president has done an incredible job of naming terrorism around the globe as evil,” Gardner continued. “He has said and called it out time and time again. And this president needs to do exactly that today.”

“We should call evil by its name,” Hatch, the Utah Republican, wrote on Twitter Saturday.

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