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The Weekly Arc: August 18, 2017

Welcome to Arc’s newsletter, sent out once per week, highlighting the best and most interesting stories from around the web. The Weekly Arc is curated by Berny Belvedere. Past editions can be accessed here.


Chaos and violence turned to tragedy Saturday as hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members — planning to stage what they described as their largest rally in decades to “take America back” — clashed with counterprotesters in the streets and a car plowed into crowds, leaving one person dead and 19 others injured. …

The driver of the Challenger, James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Ohio, was arrested and charged. …

Earlier, police evacuated a downtown park as rallygoers and counterprotesters traded blows and hurled bottles and chemical irritants at one another, putting an end to the noon rally before it officially began.

Despite the decision to quash the rally, clashes continued on side streets and throughout downtown, including the pedestrian mall at Water and Fourth streets where the Challenger slammed into counterprotesters and two other cars in the early afternoon, sending bystanders running and screaming. …

In brief remarks at a late-afternoon news conference in New Jersey to discuss veterans’ health care, Trump said he was following the events in Charlottesville closely. “The hate and the division must stop and must stop right now,” Trump said, without specifically mentioning white nationalists or their views. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides.” — The Washington Post

Trump Backlash

Once Trump made these comments, the Charlottesville saga took a turn in a new direction. Had Trump denounced the neo-Nazis and KKKers on Saturday, rather than on Monday, it would have left the white supremacists ideologically ostracized. Attribution of blame would have been laid at the feet of a fringe group not in sync with the priorities of the White House. Not everyone would buy this disassociation — including those with an a priori commitment to eliminating Trump — but enough would. And this would have enabled Trump to offer comfort to the targets of white supremacist hate.

Of course, I’m couching this in terms of political fallout. But that’s simply due to how I’ve framed it. I’m doing that because we analyze politics here on Arc. Yet the bigger problem isn’t the opportunity lost, but the moral failure of holding back from unequivocally denouncing the white supremacists.

On this point, see this Twitter thread by Ross Douthat.

For a more comprehensive take, read Nicholas Grossman’s piece published here on Arc:

Cathy Young, also here on Arc, explains how it’s possible — and why it’s morally desirable — to strongly denounce the white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville while also being clear-headed about the danger antifa poses.

Confederate Monuments

Since the white nationalist rally was originally planned as a protest against the city’s decision to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, the issue over Confederate monuments was thrust again into the spotlight.

On Arc, we published three pieces in favor of bringing down Confederate monuments and two pieces against doing so.

A related issue involved asking where the line should be drawn. Should monuments to Washington and Jefferson, two slave-owners, also come down?

We explored all the facets of the discussion in these posts.



Actually, those posts didn’t cover everything. There was still the question of what to do with these monuments:


Spain was hit by its worst terrorist attack in more than a decade on Thursday, when a van driver plowed into dozens of people enjoying a sunny afternoon on one of Barcelona’s most famous thoroughfares, killing at least 13 people and leaving 80 bloodied on the pavement.

Hours later, the Catalan police said they foiled a second vehicular attack, in the seaside town of Cambrils, 70 miles to the south, fatally shooting four people. A fifth died later of wounds, the police said. The suspects appeared to be wearing explosive belts, though these devices were later found to be fake, police said. Six civilians and one police officer were injured during the episode, the Catalan emergency services said.

The Barcelona attack was at least the sixth time in the past few years that assailants using vehicles as deadly weapons have struck a European city. …

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Barcelona assault, which shattered a peaceful afternoon in one of Europe’s most picturesque cities. President Trump and other Western leaders quickly condemned the attack and pledged cooperation. …

Witnesses described people screaming and running for their lives as the van driver wove back and forth just after 5:30 p.m., apparently trying to hit as many people as he could. Police officers swept through the area near Las Ramblas, a wide boulevard with a large pedestrian section, moving people out of the area.

Videos taken by witnesses and posted online showed men, women and children motionless on the ground amid broken umbrellas and chairs, in the shade of trees, many bleeding profusely. Paramedics and friends knelt to comfort them as police sirens wailed. The New York Times

Other Attacks: Nigeria and Finland


At least 30 people were killed and more than 80 others injured in a triple suicide attack Tuesday in the town of Mandarari, in Nigeria’s Borno State, according to civilian vigilantes fighting Boko Haram Islamists in the area.

Three female suicide bombers detonated their explosive belts in a local market and outside a nearby camp for people displaced by Boko Haram violence. — CNN


Two people were killed and at least six injured — including a mom pushing a stroller — in a stabbing spree in the Finnish city of Turku, where cops shot and wounded the suspected assailant. — New York Post

We know for certain the attacks in Barcelona and Nigeria were carried out by Islamic extremists. While there are fewer details currently available regarding the attack in Finland, the police have confirmed they are treating this as a terror attack. Is there any doubt they’ll point to the same source?

CEO Exodus

The leaders of General Electric Co., 3M Co., Campbell Soup Co. and United Technologies Corp. on Wednesday became the latest corporate chiefs to leave a White House council on manufacturing after President Donald Trump’s responses to the recent violence in Charlottesville, Va. …

Jeff Immelt, chairman of General Electric Co., said he had resigned Wednesday morning, citing President Trump’s remarks Tuesday, in which he reiterated that both sides were to blame for the weekend violence between white supremacists and counterprotesters. “The President’s statements yesterday were deeply troubling,” Mr. Immelt said in a statement. “The Committee I joined had the intention to foster policies that promote American manufacturing and growth. However, given the ongoing tone of the discussion, I no longer feel that this Council can accomplish these goals.”

Inge Thulin, CEO of 3M, which makes Post-it Notes and industrial adhesives, said he was resigning because the council was out of step with 3M’s focus on diversity and environmental sustainability.

“I believe the initiative is no longer an effective vehicle for 3M to advance these goals,” he said.

Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell Soup, said she was resigning following Tuesday’s remarks from the president. “Racism and murder are unequivocally reprehensible and are not morally equivalent to anything else that happened in Charlottesville. I believe the President should have been — and still needs to be — unambiguous on that point,” Ms. Morrison said in a statement.

Greg Hayes, CEO of United Technologies, said he also had resigned Wednesday, citing the events of the last week. President Trump had criticized the company during his campaign for closing a factory and shipping work to Mexico. Mr. Hayes later struck a deal with the White House to keep some of the jobs in Indiana. — The Wall Street Journal

Bannon Out

President Trump on Friday dismissed his embattled chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, an architect of his 2016 general election victory and the champion of his nationalist impulses, in a major White House shake-up that follows a week of racial unrest.

With his presidency floundering and his legislative agenda in shambles, administration officials said Trump’s empowered new chief of staff, John F. Kelly, moved to fire Bannon in an effort to tame warring factions and bring stability to a White House at risk of caving under its own self-destructive tendencies.

A combative populist on trade and immigration, Bannon has arguably been Trump’s ideological id on the issues that propelled his candidacy. He has served as a key liaison to the president’s conservative base and the custodian of his campaign promises.

Bannon has been a lightning rod for controversy since joining Trump’s campaign last summer, but attracted particular scorn in recent days for encouraging and amplifying the president’s divisive remarks in the wake of last week’s deadly white supremacist demonstration in Charlottesville, Va. — The Washington Post

When I first heard the news, I tweeted this:

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This Week In History

1960 — The Beatles perform publicly for the first time.

1662 — Blaise Pascal (b. 1623), French polymath best known within philosophy for his eponymous wager, passes away. You can read about his wager here.

1866 — The U.S. Civil War is officially declared over by President Andrew Johnson.

1959 — Hawaii becomes the 50th U.S. state.

1862 — Claude Debussy, prominent French composer, is born.

1946 — Keith Moon, drummer for The Who, is born. Moon was probably the most aggressive and easily one of the most technically gifted drummers in pop music history.

1814 — During the War of 1812, Great Britain captures Washington D.C. and does great damage.


To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.

— Oscar Wilde



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