A Win For Civil Rights?

On Saturday, the 19th of August, approximately fifteen thousand individuals assembled in Boston to resist the recent onslaught of neo-Nazism spurring from an incident in Charlottesville earlier this month. Some twenty-five conservatives had gathered in Boston Common Park to exercise their constitutional liberties in a ‘free speech rally.’ They were interrupted by the overwhelming crowd of counter protesters, undermining the hatred and bigotry in their discourse.

Phillip Martin, a senior investigative reporter at WGBH was present at the counter protest and stated that the fifteen thousand counter protesters present at the rally was an unanticipated mass. Metro News indicated the group of right-wing protesters wished to “publicly distance themselves” from their ideological counterparts who involved in earlier violent incidents. This is evident in PBS’ contrast of the counter-protest to the violent ending of the Charlottesville incident last week, affirming it was a “largely peaceful” affair. Interestingly, this contradicts President Donald Trump’s twitter recount of the event, “Looks like many police agitators in Boston this afternoon.” Many of the individuals involved in the counter-protest claim that Trump has been a source of white supremacist endorsement which, in effect, is contributing to the rising of racist groups in the United States.

President Trump’s response to this event reflects his nonchalant attitude and strategy towards the surfacing neo-Nazism within the U.S. Upon being questioned about the Charlottesville incident, the ABC reports his claims that there were “many sides to blame.” The lack of solidarity demonstrated by his response has in turn added credibility to supporters of racist paradigms.

Despite the tragic endings of other counter protests within the nation, the determination and courage of the left to persevere and fight for equality serves as a source of inspiration for their fellow civil rights advocates. However, the cooperation of the right, once the police decided to escort them out of Boston Common Park, should be applauded. Had their response been resistant, the event could have ended in a very different manner.

Following the death of Heather Heyer at a similar counter-protest of a larger-scale Neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville earlier in August, the issue of white supremacy and fascism has vehemently re-emerged in public discourse. Alongside physical rallies, social media has been a significant platform for opinion sharing on the issue. The somewhat dichotomous nature of the divide between the left and the right has evidently led to conflict, both virtual and physical. As some of the individuals present at Boston Common Park claimed, President Donald Trump is doing very little to counteract the far right’s agendas, blaming the media and also partially the left for their involvement in Ms. Heyer’s heart-breaking end.

The peaceful demeanour of all parties involved; the right, the left and the police in this instance, sends a strong message that public discourse can be resolved without resorting to violence. A shift in the presidential administration’s response to the spur of events spreading hate could feasibly undermine the power of neo-Nazi groups, like the ones involved in the Charlottesville incident. Nonetheless, the relative success of this event represents a win for all civil rights advocates.