EDITORIAL: The hypocrisy of Kessler’s new lawsuit

If given the chance, the plaintiffs would strip from millions the Constitutional protections they are seeking for themselves

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Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler — alongside three white supremacist groups — filed a joint lawsuit against the City of Charlottesville, former Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas and Virginia State Police Lt. Becky Crannis-Curl last week.

Anna Higgins | Cavalier Daily

Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler — alongside three white supremacist groups — filed a joint lawsuit against the City of Charlottesville, former Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas and Virginia State Police Lt. Becky Crannis-Curl last week. In the suit, the plaintiffs — Jason Kessler, the National Socialist Movement, Identity Evropa and the Traditionalist Worker’s Party — argue that their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated during the Unite the Right rally of August 2017. While the plaintiffs victimize their movement through a legal battle over constitutional rights, the irony of the lawsuit lies in its inherent hypocrisy. The beliefs espoused by Kessler and his co-plaintiffs — which constantly seeks justice for its self-proclaimed victimhood — is predicated on the victimization of others. 

Although white supremacist organizations have existed in the United States for centuries, the Alternative Right Movement has become increasingly eager to make its voice publicly heard. After gaining considerable media attention during the 2016 presidential election, the “alt-right” has become an umbrella term for anti-Semitic, misogynistic, homophobic, neo-Confederate and white nationalist organizations across the country. University alumni Jason Kessler and Richard Spencer have spearheaded the movement in recent years, serving as the the alt-right’s key political figures during the first Unite the Right rally in August 2017 which resulted in the injury of several Charlottesville civilians and the death of Heather Heyer.

White nationalist movements have consistently harnessed victimhood as a political strategy in its fight for supremacy. In August 2017, Jason Kessler filed his first lawsuit against the City of Charlottesville after the City attempted to move his rally permit from Emancipation Park — since renamed Market Street Park — to McIntire Park, arguing that this decision violated his First Amendment rights. The following year, Kessler filed another lawsuit after the City denied Kessler’s request for a permit to hold an anniversary Unite the Right rally, though he later dropped the suit in favor of hosting the demonstration in Washington, D.C. instead. 

In the most recent suit, the plaintiffs criticize the Charlottesville Police Department’s response to the Aug. 12, 2017 UTR rally, arguing that the CPD did not take sufficient action to protect white supremacist protestors who were exercising their constitutional rights. The plaintiffs argue that the actions of Crannis-Curl, Thomas and the City “were taken under color of state law and were willful, wanton, malicious, and/or deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff’s rights.” They are currently seeking a jury trial and punitive damages from Thomas and Crannis-Curl.

Although Kessler prides himself as a champion for white nationalist rights, his self-proclaimed martyrdom is rife with hypocrisy. Kessler’s racist beliefs are fundamentally based on the idea that the suppression of the many is necessary for the supremacy of the few. While Kessler demands constitutional protections for himself and other white nationalists, his vision for society is one in which constitutional protections are only afforded to a select demographic. Kessler’s white supremacist beliefs, if legislated, would undeniably seek to violate the constitutional rights of all non-white Americans. The grotesque hypocrisy of white supremacy rests in its simultaneous self-proclaimed struggle for protection and its blatant disregard for the rights and humanity of others.

As a community, we must do everything in our power to fight against the politics of fear and hate that fuel white nationalism. We must illuminate the inherent contradictions that form the basis of this racist agenda by emphasizing its hypocritical suppression of others in its fight to gain recognition.

The Cavalier Daily Editorial Board is composed of the executive editor, the editor in chief and three at-large members of the paper. The board can be reached at eb@cavalierdaily.com.

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