Issues

In Charlottesville, signs of a hatred that shocked a nation

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia — He came all the way from Tennessee. He took time off from his job as a security guard, time away from his two children. He paid for a plane and a hotel room so he could be present for what he thought would be a profound moment that could shift the nation’s consciousness.

Benji Buckles, 24, wanted to be there for Saturday’s “Unite the Right” rally here in a quaint town that is home to the University of Virginia. The posh college was founded by Thomas Jefferson, a founding father of the United States and its third president. It is also the alma mater of Richard Spencer, a white supremacist and one of the leading figures of the alt-right who helped organize the gathering.

The alt-right — an amorphous designation that includes among its ranks an array of white supremacist groups, white nationalists and neo-Nazis — was the cause that motivated Buckles’ trip to join the rally protesting the city’s plans to remove a statue of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park.

Talking in the city’s barren, quiet streets after the day’s chaos, which culminated in a 20-year-old Ohio man ramming a Dodge Challenger into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one person and injuring 19 others, Buckles said he did not identify himself as a white nationalist or neo-Nazi.

Rather, he said, he was part of the “alt-libertarian” faction of the alt-right, which he could not quite define, but described as opposed to “postmodernism and collectivism.”

But when asked by The Times of Israel if he agreed with some of the central themes and chants of the rally, like whether whites are being oppressed in America, and if he was disturbed by the ubiquitous Nazi regalia throughout the rally, and what he thought of the calls of “Jews will not replace us,” the young man was less than disapproving.

Read More: Times Of Israel