White nationalist leader Jason Kessler, who was one of the organizers behind last year’s violent “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, was interviewed by NPR ahead of the one-year anniversary of the notorious deadly event.
People were not happy that he was given a public platform to express his views of bigotry and hatred.
@NoelKing I'm sorry to say I found your interview with Jason Kessler deeply appalling. What possible good do you think can come out of giving him such a platform? For shame.— larspeter (@larspeter) August 10, 2018
Hey @NPR I really wish that you hadn’t given Jason Kessler a platform to spew his nonsense.— Nolan McLean (@NPMcLeezy) August 10, 2018
@NPR I am LIVID that you gave Jason Kessler a platform today. Prefacing it with "this is racist" is not enough. What is wrong with you?!!!— American Antecedent (@poems4prez) August 10, 2018
Kessler was invited on NPR’s morning program to talk about the rally he is holding this weekend to commemorate last year’s event called “Unite the Right 2,” which will be taking place in Washington, D.C. on Sunday.
“I consider myself a civil and human rights advocate focusing on the underrepresented Caucasian demographic,” Kessler arrogantly said during the interview, according to Splinter.
Kessler received a permit to hold his event after being approved by the National Park Service. Given the outcome in Charlottesville last year, it is utterly baffling that any city in America would allow another alt-right rally on its soil.
During the NPR interview, Kessler and his efforts were presented as some sort of response or counter to Black Lives Matter, which was an insult to the social justice organization as it suggests that the two movements are equal.
To be clear, the alt-right movement is made up of neo-Nazis and white nationalist extremists whose beliefs are rooted in the racist ideology that white people are superior to all other races.
Conversely, Black Lives Matter focuses on combating police brutality against minorities and achieving racial justice and equality for all people of all races.
Up this morning and aghast to hear @NPR giving white supremecist jason kessler a platform to spew hate and bullshit, and even worse, to hear him presented as a "both sides" against the #BlackLivesMatters movement. How dare they.— Erica Sackin (@ericajanes) August 10, 2018
.@NPR is also telling on itself by presenting #BlackLivesMatter as the ideological “Other side” to white nationalists like Jason Kessler.— Karen Attiah (@KarenAttiah) August 10, 2018
Sadly, many in the mainstream media still view black people asking for equality and freedom from police brutality as radical or extreme.
Jason Kessler being given an interview on NPR as if white supremacy is a legitimate policy position is a reminder that many of the (white) people making decisions in the media don’t feel impacted by any of this — it’s either entertainment or “news” until it hits their doorstep.— deray (@deray) August 10, 2018
Adding insult to injury, Newsweek reported that Kessler actually invited civil rights leader and president of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York, Hawk Newsome, to join him on stage at the “Unite the Right 2” rally to discuss how “both sides” had their civil rights “violated” by Charlottesville police during last year’s event.
Newsome admitted that Charlottesville police “failed to do their duty" and that the department holds some of the accountability for not properly policing the event to prevent violence or intervene. However, he turned down Kessler’s offensive request to stand beside him and pretend that their groups have any type of common ground, particularly considering that Kessler’s supporters initiated and carried out most of the violence.
"Heather Heyer's death could have been prevented if Charlottesville was policed properly," Newsome asserted, but ultimately he said he believes that the "weight of Heather Heyer's death falls on the shoulders of Jason Kessler" for putting on the rally to begin with.
Alas, Newsome will be in Washington, D.C., completing the 10-day Agape March which started in New York and will end at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. Newsome and his fellow marchers will hold a counter-protest at the memorial centered on love and King’s philosophy of nonviolence.
"It's an abomination before God that the same people who killed a girl are now coming together to promote the same type of hate, to create a similar environment, and that's why we are having a counter-protest that will be held a safe distance away," Newsome said.
He added: "This is a rally against hate. Our movement, by definition, is superior to theirs, because we come from a place of liberation for all people, and they come from a place of hatred and intolerance."
Amid the backlash, NPR issued a statement to Indy100 defending its decision to interview Kessler.
“Interviewing the people in the news is part of NPR’s mission to inform the American public, it does not mean NPR is endorsing one view over another. Our job is to present the facts and the voices that provide context on the day’s events, not to protect our audience from views that might offend them,” it read.
The problem that NPR fails to acknowledge, however, is that by allowing Kessler to share his views with the far-reaching audience of a renowned news organization, they have inadvertently legitimized his point of view as a valuable and relevant political perspective, which is incredibly reckless and dangerous.
White supremacy is not a stance worthy of recognition or consideration. Sadly, NPR seems to think otherwise.
Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: Reuters, Justin Ide