Is beaten man no longer the vic­tim?

The Washington Post - - METRO - Pe­tula Dvo­rak

Here it is — we have it now — the defin­ing mo­ment of this bizarro, al­ter­nate re­al­ity we’re liv­ing in to­day.

The black man who was sur­rounded in a Char­lottesville park­ing garage by white su­prem­a­cists dur­ing the heinous “Unite the Right” rally and beaten bloody — you saw the hor­ri­fy­ing video, ev­ery­one did — is now fac­ing a felony charge from that in­ci­dent. How crazy is that? It’s true that, in the video, DeAn­dre Har­ris swung a flash­light at a white su­prem­a­cist try­ing to spear a coun­ter­protester with the pole of a Con­fed­er­ate flag. But within sec­onds, he was kicked to the ground by a group of at least five white su­prem­a­cists, who pum­meled the 20-year-old with sticks and a large board.

Some­how, in our new king­dom of Cru­elsville, a guy who winds up with a spinal in­jury and 10 stitches in his head is charged with un­law­ful wound­ing — a crime sim­i­lar to the one his three al­leged at­tack­ers are fac­ing.

Should we sus­pend the Cal­i­for­nia wine coun­try kids who didn’t show up for classes at their burned-out school? Or ticket the cars swept away in Hous­ton’s flood?

Why not? The par­ents of

Tamir Rice re­ceived a $500 bill for his am­bu­lance ride af­ter a Cleve­land po­lice of­fi­cer killed him in a park three years ago. (To his credit, the mayor quickly apol­o­gized and can­celed the bill af­ter it made news.)

In this strange world, vic­tims are guilty, facts are al­ter­na­tive and no one can feel safe. (Need more ev­i­dence of the world turned up­side? Rush Lim­baugh just said that Pres­i­dent Trump’s com­ments are “start­ing to make me ner­vous.” Which is ac­tu­ally mak­ing me ner­vous.)

Har­ris had to turn him­self in to au­thor­i­ties Thurs­day, thanks to a cun­ning runaround by white na­tion­al­ists who fig­ured out that in Vir­ginia, an al­leged crime vic­tim can gen­er­ate a war­rant through a lo­cal mag­is­trate af­ter a po­lice re­port is filed.

And as Black Lives Mat­ter ac­tivists worked to help iden­tify Har­ris’s at­tack­ers in the video and share that in­for­ma­tion with po­lice, the white power peo­ple de­cided to make Harold Ray Crews the vic­tim.

Crews de­scribes him­self on Twit­ter as an at­tor­ney and a “South­ern na­tion­al­ist.” He also runs the North Carolina chap­ter of the League of the South, ac­cord­ing to the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter, which con­sid­ers it a hate group.

Har­ris’s at­tor­ney, S. Lee Mer­ritt, told The Wash­ing­ton Post that Har­ris did not in­jure Crews in the melee and that the charge against him is un­jus­ti­fied.

“We find it highly of­fen­sive and up­set­ting,” Mer­ritt said, “but what’s more jar­ring is that he’s been charged with the same crime as the men who at­tacked him.” How can this be hap­pen­ing? It’s the new Fake Re­al­ity, the cul­ture of Al­ter­na­tive Facts, the world in which white men — who hold the ma­jor­ity of the na­tion’s wealth, con­gres­sional seats, judge­ships, CEO spots and gun li­censes — stage a protest to chant about be­ing re­placed.

The white su­prem­a­cists and neo-Nazis re­turned to Char­lottesville again Satur­day, car­ry­ing their torches and bear­ing their ha­tred.

The vi­o­lence and racial en­mity they’ve un­leashed in our coun­try feels like an ex­ten­sion of the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign we en­dured last year. Re­mem­ber when can­di­date Don­ald Trump promised to pay the le­gal fees for sup­port­ers “who knock the crap out of” pro­test­ers from Black Lives Mat­ter and other groups, and then wished aloud that he had been closer to a pro­tester be­ing es­corted from one of his ral­lies so that he could “punch him in the face”?

Dur­ing the cam­paign last year, I wrote about the Trump Ef­fect, when chil­dren lis­ten­ing to the ugly rhetoric also hurled hate­ful phrases like “build that wall” at im­mi­grant and mi­nor­ity kids.

For all of Trump’s dan­ger­ous dec­la­ra­tions since he took of­fice — pro­vok­ing North Korea, trash­ing free­dom of speech, threat­en­ing op­po­nents — it has been pos­si­ble to be­lieve oth­ers will pro­tect us from the pres­i­dent’s worst im­pulses.

Many of Trump’s sup­port­ers brush his words off as mere blus­ter. Some po­lit­i­cal mod­er­ates re­mind us that the na­tion has sur­vived worse. Even law­mak­ers have con­vinced them­selves that ex­pe­ri­enced men like Chief of Staff John F. Kelly and De­fense Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis will keep Amer­ica from slip­ping into chaos or nu­clear war.

But what has hap­pened in Char­lottesville — the gath­er­ing of this coun­try’s worst big­ots, the killing of a coun­ter­protester by an al­leged Nazi sym­pa­thizer and now the de­lib­er­ate ma­nip­u­la­tion of the ju­di­cial sys­tem by a hate group — points to a darker out­come.

Char­lottesville is the Trump Ef­fect, Adult Edi­tion. And we will be liv­ing with the con­se­quences of the vit­riol and vi­o­lence cap­tured in that park­ing garage video for years to come.

ZACH D. ROBERTS VIA AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

DeAn­dre Har­ris is beaten by white su­prem­a­cists in a garage next to the Char­lottesville po­lice sta­tion on Aug. 12.

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