Monkey see, monkey do: ‘Violence in America being normalized at government level’

The normalization of violence is occurring because even at the government level there are numerous examples when the state is settling its disputes with violence. That needs to change, says Arvin Vohra, Vice Chair of the Libertarian National Committee.

Rival protests in the US city of Berkeley, California pitting right-wing nationalists against members of the leftist group Antifa have descended into chaos on Sunday. 

Demonstrators broke through police barricades during a 'Rally against hate' event and clashed with right-wing activists, which led to 14 people being arrested. At least one person was injured in the melee, according to the Berkeley Police Department. 

Prior to the unrest, police banned masks, sticks and other potential weapons. Nevertheless, dozens of so-called anti-fascist protesters reportedly broke those rules.

RT spoke to the vice chairman of the Libertarian party, Arvin Vohra, who said that violence is being normalized across America.

RT: Berkeley has a long history of left-wing activism. Do you think it was a bit provocative to choose the site as venue for a pro-Trump rally?

Arvin Vohra: I don’t think that there is anything wrong with having a rally of any kind anywhere as long as it is not violent. But a rally that is coming from a recent history of a culture of violence could be problematic. I think a lot of the response that we are seeing in terms of violence, in terms of using mace, in terms of using other tools is showing that a lot of self-described anarchists are not actually anarchists – they are just people engaging in violence. Anarchists are people who oppose the government, not people who just oppose people that they disagree with and try to fight words with violence.

RT: The original gathering was supposedly against Marxism. And yet crowds were chanting, "Nazis off our streets." Do you think this kind of language is making matters worse?

AV: I think that one of the really big things to realize here is that language is fine. Language is a part of the marketplace of ideas. And sometimes your ideas are going to fail. If your language is provocative people might reject it. If your language is out of touch with what most voters and people believe – which is what we are seeing from both the left and the right - you are going to lose in the marketplace of ideas. And that is fine. What we believe, as libertarians, that it is not fine that when your ideas fail to try to use violence to rescue them. And that is what we are seeing; we are seeing two sides that have ideologies that people simply do not want that are both fighting over the worst ideology and the problem is that they are resorting to violence.

RT: This is happening in the wake of President Trump's controversial handling of Charlottesville. Where do you see this situation heading?

AV: Right now we are going to see American politics going one of two directions. The direction that I hope it goes in is a deep rejection of violence in politics and I mean that both in terms of violence within American politics, and also the example of violence that the government is currently setting. I believe that a lot of the normalization of violence that we are seeing is happening because even at the government level we are seeing situations in which the government settles its disputes with violence. If there is a dispute with the Islamic world, it is settling it with violence. If it there is a dispute with drugs, it settles that with violence. And that example needs to change. One possibility would be a wholesale rejection of violence at a personal level and at the governmental level. And that would be an incredible opportunity for American growth. But the other possibility that I hope does not happen, is an increasing cycle of violence, where violence is normalized or becomes more and more part of our politics. A violent politics is a rejection of everything America stands for. One of the great things about America is that we are able to settle our disputes without violence. It is one of the things that has set America apart since its founding. And to see that going in this direction is just heartbreaking… The vast majority of Americans want to see an end to all that violence.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.