Playing Party Politics Gives Extremists Legitimacy

Playing Party Politics Gives Extremists Legitimacy

On Saturday, a riot broke out in Charlottesville Virginia, as an abhorrent group of people took to the streets to spew despicable sentiments of hatred. Subsequently, a member of these hate-groups committed a heinous act of terrorism where people were killed and injured.

Instantaneously, people took to the internet to blame Republican leadership for what transpired.

Let me tell you what I – a Republican voter – was doing when this happened. I was in synagogue celebrating the Sabbath, with no access to electricity, with no knowledge that this was even happening.

Imagine, therefore, how surprised I was to turn on my phone after the Sabbath to see pundits blaming people like me – innocent Republican voters – for the crimes committed. Trust me I can tell you that I feel personally the vitriol of my fellow Americans holding Nazi flags. I had two great-grandmothers in Auschwitz.

The truth is, that when the Left blames the Right for the actions of the alt-right, we encourage this. When the Right blames the Left for the actions of AntiFa, we encourage this.

These crimes happen because the partisan divide is so deep. Hatred is bred by the fact that politics has become a game between two teams, and where acts like those on Saturday can be considered advancing the ball for one of those teams.

If normal people, who obviously detest bigotry no matter where it is coming from, came together to oppose it instead of pointing fingers – that hatred would dissipate. If we all came together against these actions these people would seem like fringe-groups with no standing in actual reality. As their relevance died so too would their controversy. But when we decide to defend for the sake of party or when we try blame the other party, it gives these groups credence. It gives them legitimacy. It gives them a reason to do it once more.

By blaming an entire party, race, or religion for the actions of the few we make the few seem like an entire party, race, or religion instead of what they actually are, nobodies.

This is not to say that we can gloss over what this was. It was white supremacy. Just as radical Islamic terrorism is what it is. But let’s blame the perpetrators for their actions so the world sees them as the bad guys instead of seeing people who had nothing to do get blamed.

Using events like this one to call for a donation to Black Lives Matter, who themselves facilitate riots and acts like these, is not the way to end the culture of hatred. Stocking up a war chest so your team can retaliate is not an answer that helps anyone. Perhaps a communal call for donation to help a bipartisan cause like starving children, or the homeless, or maybe even the families of those injured in Saturday’s attack.

America has to decide whether trying to score political points is worth having Nazi flags and masked hooligans roaming our streets. And if the answer is no, it’s time to stop looking at politics as a game and start looking at it as a way to help people.

Democrats have to understand that typical Republicans vote the way they do because they believe in tax cuts or Obamacare repeal. Policy they believe in. And that is okay.

Republicans have to understand that typical Democrats do the same. And that is okay.

And we all have to understand that the Alt-Right or AntiFa have nothing to do with either.

If we could end the game of politics we could end the aggressive threatening movements that come with it. These movements, whether subtle from within the government or blatant out on the streets, take advantage of individuals chasing extremism in an attempt to pull the country radically in one direction or the other.

If the game of politics ended, however, we would be able to trust people to be sensible and they would coalesce around an America of reason where the thought of defending bigotry or blaming it on a political party would be an antiquated notion.

If we all, regardless of political affiliation, spoke out against hatred — no matter where it comes from — we could kill it.

Elliot, a member of the class of 2019 at Yeshiva University, is a writer whose work spans the spectrum from politics to screenwriting. He started writing political analysis for his school newspaper and has subsequently seeked other outlets to make his arguments heard. Elliot enjoys mixed martial arts and reading anything he can get his hands on.