In Other News…Charlottesville, Lexington to remove statues, Lawrence falls from ‘highest-paid’ top spot

 

James Alex Fields Jr.

Charlottesville: A rally of white nationalists in Charlottesville, Va., turned violent on Saturday, as reported by PBS and U.S. News & World Report (AP). Three people were killed.

Several white nationalists groups came together for the “Unite the Right” rally, to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. They started Friday night with a march on the campus of the University of Virginia, as neo-Nazis, Klansmen and pro-Confederacy groups carried tiki torches and shouted who knows what (but just about every photo has someone screaming something).

Violence broke out on Saturday between protesters and counter protesters and in the early afternoon, a man drove his car in the middle of a crowded group of counter protesters. The alleged driver was identified as James Alex Fields Jr., 20, now of Ohio, formerly of Florence, Kentucky, says CBS News and NPR. He has been charged with the murder of Heather Heyer, 32, among other counts.

According to a statement from a spokeswoman for Charlottesville, Fields is accused of driving his Dodge Challenger into a sedan at a high rate of speed, which in turn hit the minivan in front of it. The minivan and the sedan were pushed out into a crowd of counter protesters. Fields allegedly then backed up and fled the scene.

The Boston Globe ran a photo that places Fields with Vanguard America, another hate group attending the rally. Vanguard America says Fields is not a member, he’s just dressed like them and holding one of their shields. If these guys are saying you’re not with them, that’s about as persona non grata as you can get.

The New York Times says he lived with his mother, Samantha Bloom, up until “five or six months ago.” She told The Associated Press she tries to stay out of his political views. She knew he was going to attend a rally, but though it “had something to do with Trump,” not white supremacy.

Reuters says two people injured during the rally are suing Fields and event organizers for $3 million.

Later that afternoon, a Virginia State Police helicopter crashed, near Charlottesville, killing Lt. H. Jay Cullen, 48, and Berke M. M. Bates, 40.

The Hill reports Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said on Saturday:

“I have a message to all of the white supremacists and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today. Our message is plain and simple. Go home. You are not wanted in this great commonwealth. Shame on you. You pretend that you’re patriots, but you are anything but a patriot.”

“My message is clear. We are stronger than you. You will not succeed. There is no place for you here, there is no place for you in America.” 

The Washington Post took note of the long list of businesses quick to say: “Whoa! They bought our stuff, but we are so not with those guys.” TIKI Brand, the NHL, Go Daddy, and Fred Perry/New Balance quickly denounced any association. Here’s TIKI Brands on their Facebook page:

“TIKI Brand is not associated in any way with the events that took place in Charlottesville and are deeply saddened and disappointed. We do not support their message or the use of our products in this way.”

And the Detroit Red Wings, whose logo had been coopted and altered to include Nazi imagery:

Here’s Tina Fey on “Saturday Night Live.” She’s a UVA grad, class of 1992.

 

And John Oliver:

https://youtu.be/DXszx68uhsY

And Seth Meyers:
https://youtu.be/MTxMGfYc3jw

And then social media exploded with post after post condemning Nazis. So that’s what Facebook would have looked like in 1941. Now we know.

And here is President Donald Trump:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uIVkdWZAWk

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms, this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”

And that left people wanting just a little bit. “On many sides” seemed to be ascribing equal responsibility for Saturday’s events and left the white supremacists off the hook.

In fact, white supremacist site The Daily Stormer agreed, says The Washington Post. After President Tump’s remarks, they posted:

Trump comments were good. He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us.

He said that we need to study why people are so angry, and implied that there was hate … on both sides!

So he implied the antifa are haters.

There was virtually no counter-signaling of us at all.

He said he loves us all

Problematic.

So on Monday, President Trump revised his Saturday statement:

“Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the K.K.K., neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

Which was better.

But on Tuesday, says The New York Times, we were back to our “many sides” stance on Saturday.

“I think there is blame on both sides. You had a group on one side that was bad. You had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say that. I’ll say it right now.”

So.

“Nazis are bad” is about the easiest stance a person or organization can take in this world. Look at just any form of storytelling to emerge— film, television, novels, comics, video games — Nazis are your go-to villain because they’re the one group most all the world can agree upon. Nazis and zombies. One or the other.

The Call of Duty video games will let you enjoy facing off against a peanut butter cup of villainy in the form of the Nazi zombie, but that’s what you get. “I don’t know who I’m supposed to cheer for in this movie. The characters are just too morally ambiguous…wait. That guy just punched a Nazi. It’s Kenny. Kenny is our hero. That’s settled.”

You have Indiana Jones, Hellboy, Captain America. Captain America — the guy with America in his name — was created to fight Nazis. That was his whole job.

Christoph Waltz’s Hans Landa from “Inglorious Basterds.” All he has to do is come in and have a polite chat with a guy but we know he’s the villain, because: Nazi.

Look at this game, “Castle Wolfenstein,” for the Commodore 64:

How many people even remember what a Commodore 64 was? That’s 8-bit villainy right there and now WWII is practically its own genre of game on the strength of Nazis are a universal evil and thus the perfect adversary.

The Empire in Star Wars was based on Nazis. So much so that when J.J. Abrams went looking for fascist imagery for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” he pulled directly from Nazi rallies.

Take a look:
https://youtu.be/sr3L7yI5lzQ

And so this should have been a layup for the president and instead, his statements have caused major rifts even among his own party and supporters. I mean, if you pop by Breitbart — which you shouldn’t — but if you do, you’ll see he still has his people. But others were quick to say the president did not do enough to call hate by name and promote unity.

Take Sen. Mitch McConnell, for instance. Just last week, we talked about the feud between the two men and this didn’t do much to quell that.

According to USA Today, Sen. McConnell was “livid” following the president’s remarks. In McConnell’s own statement, he said:

“We can have no tolerance for an ideology of racial hatred. There are no good neo-nazis, and those who espouse their views are not supporters of American ideals and freedoms. We all have a responsibility to stand against hate and violence, wherever it raises its evil head.”

Not. Difficult.

Sen. McConnell also noted the Nazis are coming to Lexington.

“The white supremacist, KKK, and neo-nazi groups who brought hatred and violence to Charlottesville are now planning a rally in Lexington. Their messages of hate and bigotry are not welcome in Kentucky and should not be welcome anywhere in America.”

Which brings me to…

Going Down: CNN reports Lexington Mayor Jim Gray announced his plan to remove two Confederate statues from the city following Charlottesville. The mayor said he had already planned to make the move, but Charlottesville called him to make the announcement ahead of schedule.

Mayor Gray told HuffPost:

“We’ve been examining the question for almost two years. Some would say that’s way too long. I would say that change is better accepted when it’s understood. It’s not unexpected that you’d have pushback and challenge and different points of view on this. We’ve given it time for understanding, and therefore, there’s a better chance for acceptance of the path forward.”

CBS News says last night, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council won unanimous approval to move the statues. They have 30 days to select a new location.

Lexington officials say no permits for a rally or protest have been filed, but says police will be ready. Said Lexington Police Chief Mark Barnard:

“If they were to come to Lexington, we would plan to have an overwhelming amount of law enforcement … to ensure everyone was safe and had the right to free speech.”

Or as a wise man once said: don’t start none; won’t be none.

Drinking Buddy: Forbes released “The World’s Highest-Paid Actresses 2017” list this week and after two years in a row at No. 1, Jennifer Lawrence is no longer in the top spot, says Variety, Los Angeles Times and the A.V. Club.

That position now belongs to Emma Stone with $26 million, largely on the success of “La La Land.” Ms. Stone plays an aspiring actress alongside Ryan Gosling, who saves jazz from John Legend or what have you.

Jennifer Anniston comes in at No. 2 with $25.5 million on the strength of a host of endorsement deals and the sale of a hair care line she owned a stake in.

And at No. 3, it’s your pal Jennifer Lawrence with a mere $24 million. That’s coming from the coming “mother!’ horror thriller, directed by her boyfriend, Darren Aronofsky, and her Dior endorsement.

All three women are opposed to Nazis.

If Lawrence is a little down from her drop to No. 3, she can drown her sorrows on her California wine tasting tour. She’s offering people a chance to join her to raise money for Represent.US, an anti-political corruption organization, says Rolling Stone, Bravo, Vogue, Food & Wine and the loathed E!

In the video announcing the contest, Lawrence plays a game of “Movie Review or Wine Review.”

 

Her line about “Silver Linings Playbook” is fantastic. “That was me 2,500 years ago before I started aging like a president,” is going to go in the self-deprecation hall of fame, I’ll tell you that.

For your chance to win, head over to Omaze. Donations earn you chances to win along with tiered perks along the way.

In other news, The Hollywood Reporter is saying the long-awaited Obi-Wan Kenobi movie just might be in the works. Early talks are underway with director Stephen Daldry, who would oversee development and script. No casting mentioned, but Ewan McGregor has long said he’d be up for reprising the role.

I’ve not seen the “Rebels” show, but they resurrected villain Darth Maul and once again pitted him against an older Kenobi. Here’s that confrontation:
https://youtu.be/0scImICHU14

That was a little anti-climactic, so maybe the movie will take that a little further.

See you next week.