The trial of James Alex Fields, the sniveling asshole who murdered 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injured several others with his car at the Charlottesville "Unite The Right" rally last year, begins today. Fields, who has been in jail since the attack, is pleading not guilty to charges of first degree murder, despite the fact that there is actual video evidence of him driving his Dodge Challenger into the crowd, backing up and speeding back into it.

The trial is expected to last for three weeks, though what his defense is even going to be is unknown. Whatever it is, let's hope no one buys it because he deserves to be in jail for a million years.

Heyer's murder is part of a general uptick in right-wing violence across America. A recent report from the Global Terrorism Database revealed that two-thirds of all terrorist attacks in 2017 were motivated by right-wing extremism. Last year, there were 37 right-wing terrorist attacks, 11 left-wing terrorist attacks, and 6 attacks linked to Islamic extremism. The attacks from right-wing extremists were also more likely to be fatal.

This should not come as much of a surprise to anyone who reads the news regularly. In fact, these figures seem a little low -- if misogyny-based attacks from woman-hating incels were included in these statistics, which they damn well should be, they'd be a lot higher.

There are reasons for this. Trump's rhetoric and validation of white rage is one of those reasons, but it's not the only one. These incidents were on the rise well before he took office -- since America elected a black man president, actually (not to mention the cottage industry in rightwing terrorism under Bill Clinton). Trump's also not the only one out there validating this kind of behavior. It has been a group effort.

Prior to Fields's murder of Heather Heyer, Republicans in six states proposed laws that would "protect" drivers who ran over protestors. The Daily Caller -- the website founded by Tucker Carlson -- ran a whimsical video featuring cars running into protestors, which was then shared by Fox Nation. The copy below the video read:

Here's a compilation of liberal protesters getting pushed out of the way by cars and trucks. Study the technique; it may prove useful in the next four years.


Now, I'm not defending Fields, but with all of this rhetoric, it's not surprising that someone thought it was totally fine, and perhaps even their patriotic duty, to run over liberal protestors with their car.

Even a few months after Heyer's death, the sheriff's office in Chelan County, Washington, found itself in hot water after posting an "All Lives Splatter" meme to their Facebook page.

One of the most popular memes in the wingnut-o-sphere is about giving people they don't like "free helicopter rides" -- a reference to Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet murdering his political enemies by dropping them from helicopters.

Pinochet himself has become a beloved hero to many of these people. In fact, in the official Proud Boys store, you can purchase a T-shirt reading "Pinochet Did Nothing Wrong."

And speaking of Proud Boys, we had Gavin McInnes reenacting the assassination of a Japanese socialist as though the assassin were a hero -- not to mention repeatedly encouraging his followers to engage in acts of violence against left-wing protesters.

Then there are the incels sitting around discussing their plans to rape and murder women as casually as one might plan a dinner party. Then there are the militia people and the Republican elected officials who go around talking about how the Second Amendment gives people "redress" against the government ... with guns.

Ever since Fields's arrest, white supremacist sites like VDare have been trying to frame his murder of Heather Heyer as an act of self-defense. But they're not alone. More mainstream conservative sites, like Big League Politics, have been pushing this narrative as well -- while also claiming that many of those protesting the Charlottesville rally were only there because they were being paid. If you're the kind of person that might be tempted to do something like this, there is literally no one out there in the kind of media you consume that is telling you that it is a bad idea.

These aren't just "memes," they aren't just "trolling," they are violent fantasies and justifications for acts of violence that are being repeated over and over and over again, by people who see those who commit these violent acts as heroes. That's some real fucked up cognitive behavioral therapy right there. If you want to know why "this keeps happening," that is why this keeps happening


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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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