Berkeley Should Unify to Disempower the Hateful “Alt-Right”

By Eva Boas

Berkeley, historically one of the most progressive cities in the country, has been chosen as a hot spot for “alt-right” hate groups to hold rallies. After the inauguration of Donald Trump, the “alt-right” have felt empowered to come forward and be more vocal with their hate. As a young citizen of Berkeley, I am faced with a question; what is the best response?

After hearing about the events of Charlottesville, I was perplexed. Knowing that there are white supremacists in 2017 is disturbing. Knowing that there are white supremacists that are comfortable voicing their opinions publicly is horrifying. The recent change in government has given a platform for these “fringe” organizations to become emboldened. 

Violence always seems to be a part of these rallies. Whether the violence is started by the ralliers themselves, or by the counter protesters is not always clear, but the aura of negativity and hate almost exclusively comes from the “alt-right”. 

One of the worst reactions to the hate would be to participate in the violence and make these rallies even more dangerous than they already are. The “alt-right” are coming to liberal cities such as Berkeley and Charlottesville because they know they will get a rise out of the community. They want a negative and violent reaction. It gives them the ability to blur the line of right and wrong. 

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor,” said Desmond Tutu, a South African social rights activist. Speaking out and taking action is the only way to combat oppression. You can’t sit around and wait for change to come.

In Boston, the counter protesters outnumbered the minuscule group of “alt-right” and caused their rally to be cut short. There was not the same kind of violence in Boston as there was in the Charlottesville or Berkeley rallies because the counter protesters came with a peaceful goal. 

At many of the rallies that tu rned violent in Berkeley, the counter protesters came with a different mindset. Members of Antifa and the ‘By Any Means Necessary’ group have participated in and often driven the violence at the “alt-right” rallies. Even while many other counter protesters stayed non-violent, the violent actions of the Antifa overwhelmed the overall image of the counter protests. 

News coverage of the counter protests in Berkeley on August 27 were portrayed in a negative light. Images of the protests showed Antifa members causing violence, hurting people on the opposing side and causing problems with police. This only furthers the separation between left and right, while also empowering the right to bring even more violence to the rallies. 

We have a right to be angry. The words and actions of these ralliers directly affect and specifically target so many people in the Berkeley community. By no means do we have to accept the hatred brought into our community, but we must not retaliate with an equal hate. We must respond with a sense of unity that is so strong that their hateful words and ideas are driven out.

No change will ever be made in our world if the hate of the “alt-right” is met with equal hate from those who oppose them and their ideals. Instead, we have to come together as a peaceful and united force. We have a responsibility to show them that we will not stand for this injustice. We will take our pain and anger and use it to fuel something enormously more powerful than their hate.