They opened their program with a moment of silence for Heather Heyer, who was killed in Charlottesville last week by a white supremacist. That's when everyone should have just gone home.
Rather than find themselves in confrontation with a fearsome array of Swastika-tattooed, brush-head-skin-head, red-crosses-on-white-flag-McNasties, 40,000 "counter-fascist" protesters in Boston last Saturday met a rather milquetoasty candidate for US Senate whose campaign signs read "Black Lives DO Matter" and "No GMO Stop Monsanto." They read the Bill of Rights.
Another speaker was a former Ron Paul delegate. Another, according to the Anti-Defamation League website, had committed the thought crime of "[propagating] the conspiracy theory that DNC staffer Seth Rich was murdered for political reasons."
One of the organizers of the Free Speech rally told the newspaper that if KKK or Nazis had shown up, he himself would have opposed them. Nazis need to be opposed. But where were they?
One had dreadlocks. Others were Asian. The US Senate candidate himself, Shiva Ayyadurai, looked for all the world like your clean-cut, favorite Indian-background doctor or dentist.
They looked lonely and outnumbered, and like they were not having much fun. They adjourned early, around noon, though the program said speakers were scheduled until 2. No one said a word or held a sign about white people being superior. Many weren't white.
So came and went the Boston Free Speech rally, and the attendant "counter-protest," which held that white supremacy would not be allowed to be disguised as "free speech." The counter-protest Facebook page read:
"On Saturday, August 19th, White Nationalists are converging on Boston Common to reinforce their white supremacist ideology and attempt to intimidate queer and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, POC) communities."
The counter-protest was named "Fight White Supremacy!" with the exclamation mark in a bold red graphic with a picture of a fist.
So where are the Neo-Nazis?
The 40,000 people were kept about 50 to 100 yards away from the Boston gazobo, where the Free Speech rally was, just itching to pounce on a Nazi.
The Boston Globe newspaper screamed that protesters were opposing a rally with "far-right" speakers. Now the word was far-right, since the Nazi label obviously wouldn't stick. An elastic definition of evil just got stretched to perhaps anyone who didn't vote for Hillary.
By appearances it was doubtful that anyone on the gazebo even ate meat. Even the Anti-Defamation League declined to describe the event as a white supremacist rally, saying at its blog:
"Unlike Charlottesville, the Boston event, as currently planned, is not a white supremacist gathering."
A number of the counter-protesters, on the other hand, were ready to rock and roll. Video shows police pushing back "anti-fascist" protesters as they swarmed to get at the departing Free Speechers, who had to be escorted by police. There were over 30 arrests of counter-protesters, who police say were throwing bottles of urine and rocks at them.
So what does this mean? If someone is a Republican, or voted for Trump, they are a Nazi? "Far-right?" Is Hillary Clinton far-right? Who had already directly help start wars in LIbya, Syria, and Iraq?
Should I start throwing punches at beloved uncles or other relatives because they voted for Trump? Because thats what the Civil War was: brother against brother. Father against son. Very, very ugly.
Is that what we want?
Or do we want to make sure someone is really, really a Nazi before throwing bricks and splitting lips? What does far-right mean now? If the Boston Globe doesn't find any Nazis, will a "far-right" do?
Someone got all those people hyped up, with possibly tragic consequences. The Free Speech organizers said repeatedly, during the run-up to the rally, that Nazis, white supremacists, and KKK were not welcome at their rally. It didn't seem to matter.
As of the next day, Sunday, counter-protest organizers were claiming victory, saying at RefuseFascism, which is the umbrella organization for many upcoming "counter-protests,"
"The Nazis in Boston got shut down today. We must bring this forward, and not stop until the Nazis in the White House are driven from power. Build for November 4th!"
However, the message at the Facebook for Boston Antifa, shorthand for "anti-fascists," seemed to target not Nazis but the idea of free speech itself, with the page header showing a sign saying "free speech" being burned.
In another post on the Boston Antifa website, the group makes common cause with "Hillary Democrats."
Wars are much easier to start than end. Once started, the original reasons cease to matter.
Who is trying to polarize us? Set brother against brother, father against son? Whom does this benefit? How?