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Anyone who remembers the main­stream media’s frenzied pre­dic­tions of vio­lence at showings of “The Joker” last year will find its cov­erage of the peaceful gun-rights rally in Richmond, VA on Jan. 20 strik­ingly similar. I Wiki­media Commons

Anyone who remembers the main­stream media’s frenzied pre­dic­tions of vio­lence at showings of “The Joker” last year will find its cov­erage of the peaceful gun-rights rally in Richmond, VA on Jan. 20 strik­ingly similar.

Media outlets such as CNN and MSNBC agi­tated fears of vio­lence ahead of the rally and antic­i­pated a repeat of the tragic attacks in Char­lottesville in 2017. Vir­ginia Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emer­gency and banned firearms from capitol grounds, saying that state intel­li­gence found “threats and rhetoric online.” 

Despite these dire pre­dic­tions, the rally was peaceful, the activists were polite, and the sur­rounding area was left even cleaner than it was before the protest. 

The rally took place after the Vir­ginia State Senate passed a host of new gun control bills, including the crim­i­nal­ization of private firearm transfers, the ability for local gov­ern­ments to ban guns in public spaces, and restricting handgun pur­chases to one per month. According to the New York Times, Democrats say these bills are just the beginning. 

The most con­cerning piece of leg­is­lation is a red-flag law that allows offi­cials, such as law enforcement and attorneys, to issue search war­rants in order to con­fiscate firearms from people who are deemed dan­gerous to them­selves or others. According to the Wash­ington Post, the law allows police to con­fiscate weapons from someone based solely on a civil com­plaint — not for breaking the law. 

Despite the media’s fears of vio­lence, and despite the thou­sands of armed pro­testers, only one person was arrested at the rally: a woman who refused to take off the mask cov­ering her face. She should have said she was part of Antifa.

Such pesky facts did not stop the media from calling the activists the usual names, from “white nation­alists” and “white suprema­cists” to “white extremists,” whatever that means. This attempt by the media to smear peaceful pro­testers defending their civil rights is unsur­prising, but sick­ening nonetheless. In fact, the Wash­ington Post went so far as to call Repub­lican Vir­ginia State Sen. Amanda F. Chase, who attended the rally, a “gun-toting icon­o­clast” known for her “provocative style.” That sounds an awful lot like sexism.

Media outlets also failed to realize that white people aren’t the only ones who care about the Second Amendment. One African-American pro­tester said that the media “would be mad because there’s no civil unrest, they’ll be mad because there’s no fighting, they’ll be mad that nobody got locked up, they’ll be mad that all the officers are at peace — but guess what, united we stand.”

Although it might seem that Virginia’s laws can’t reach us, the steady erosion of con­sti­tu­tional rights will have wide-reaching effects if left unchecked. For the apa­thetic among us, the massive turnout at the rally should be an encour­aging sign. Despite fear-mon­gering and name-calling from the media, thou­sands of people were still willing to show up and stand up for what they know to be right. 

Luckily, the pro­testers were able to find humor in the rank hypocrisy of the whole sit­u­ation. The peaceful and multi-racial crowd of so-called “white suprema­cists” knew who the real racist was: Gov­ernor Ralph Northam himself. In fact, some of them decided to give him a taste of his own med­icine. One pro­tester, bearing the now-infamous yearbook photo of Northam in blackface, said it all:

“Gov­ernor Northam! I think I found the white supremacist. Unfor­tu­nately, it’s you!”

 

Ashley Kaitz is a sophomore studying the liberal arts. She is an assistant fea­tures editor for The Col­legian.