Talia Lavin is a Brooklyn writer who seems to see Nazis and would-be mass murderers everywhere she looks. In 2018 she joined an online mob accusing a disabled veteran who was working to combat the sexual exploitation of children of being a Nazi based on one of his tattoos. The tattoo was actually the symbol for the platoon he fought with in Afghanistan. Lavin retracted the allegation and later apologized and quit her fact-checking job at the New Yorker.

Lavin worked for Media Matters for a while and then got a gig teaching at NYU’s Journalism School. However, her class “Reporting on the Far Right” was cancelled because of low enrollment. I can’t imagine why.

In 2019 Lavin wrote a piece for the Washington Post which accused Ben Shapiro of evoking a war between Islam and the west. How did he do this? By tweeting, “Absolutely heartbreaking. A magnificent monument to Western civilization collapsing.” He was referring to the flaming collapse of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. But in Lavin’s view, this was something sinister. Here’s her take along with Shapiro’s response to it:

She didn’t literally call Shapiro a Nazi but did write about him and the Christchurch mass murderer in the same sentence as if lamenting the collapse of an iconic cathedral and mass murder were only a few small steps from one another on some continuum known only to her.

Today, Lavin has written another screed again accusing everyone she disagrees with of being an incipient murderer. The piece is titled “That Pro-Gun Rally in Virginia Wasn’t Exactly ‘Peaceful.'” There are really two parts to her argument. The first is that real bloodshed may have been narrowly averted this week in Virginia:

All this confidence belied the fact that bloodshed—great and heavy and perhaps unprecedented on American soil—was narrowly averted. A federal motion for detention released Tuesday revealed that three members of neo-Nazi terror group The Base had planned to attend Monday’s rally in Virginia, kitted out with a home-built, functioning fully-automatic rifle capable of firing several rounds at a time; survival gear; and 1,500 rounds of ammunition. They had planned to open fire into the crowd.

According to the affidavit, one of the men had postulated that there were enough “radicalized” individuals slated to be in Richmond that “all you gotta do is start making things go wrong and Virginia can spiral out to fucking full blown civil war.” Their goal, one of the men stated in a video, was to “bring the collapse…If you want the white race to survive, you’re going to have to do your fucking part.” The three men were arrested four days before the Richmond rally—held at bay from fulfilling the fantasies they had described of “literally hunting people” in a heavily armed crowd, and setting into motion a chain of violent events that would extend far beyond Richmond.

Here’s the affidavit. I’ve read it in full and it does convey the impression that the three men arrested after months of surveillance were vile anti-black and anti-Semitic racists who dreamed about launching a war for the white race. They did have at least one rifle and talked several times about not letting the Virginia rally go to waste.

However, their exact plan seemed to change several times. They discussed killing civilians at the event but also discussed enraging the left into attacking the rally:
“Now the end goal is this, is to incite leftist violence prior to prior to January 20th in Virginia. We want the left in America to become violent.” They also discussed killing police officers at the event: “If there’s like a PoPo cruiser parked on the street and he doesn’t have backup, I can execute him at a whim and just take his stuff.” They even discussed throwing fireworks and hoping people would react in panic, thinking shots had been fired. But ultimately the plan they settled on was to drive to a neighboring county and camp out to wait and see what happened:

Why don’t we like, take a look at a map and we’ll find like a gun range that’s in like one of the outer counties and a campground, and we will spend the weekend training and camping, while we uh, pay close attention to the news and live streams and uh that way, if it’s go time, you know we’re already in position and we can then link up with our whatever NS [National Socialist] forces happen to be in the area.

I’m not suggesting these guys weren’t dangerous because crazy racists are dangerous, but ultimately it seemed they weren’t even going to attend the rally. Even if they had, would shooting at gun owners or police have launched the kind of racial war they were daydreaming about? I don’t see how.

And this brings us to the second point of Lavin’s article wherein she suggests that the peaceful gun owners were actually there to threaten violence:

There was, it was true, an absence of immediate bloodshed; but what abounded, in that armed and insurrectionist sea of humanity, was the promise that bloodshed might happen at any time, should the will of the mob be thwarted…

On Monday, itself the sea of armed men kept the city in a kind of artificial stillness—not safety but fear. There is a difference between peace that consists of calm and security, and the false peace of being held under threat. One may be silent when held at gunpoint, but it is not the silence of contentment; it is the silence of mortal terror.

In Lavin’s eyes, the would-be terrorists planning an attack and the people they planned to kill are no different. And that’s where she is badly wrong once again. The people who showed up to the rally Monday were Virginians exercising their civil rights to peacefully assemble and express their grievances. As the left likes to say: This is what democracy looks like.

But just as we’ve seen on college campuses, the tactic these days is to express your mortal terror of the right as a means of demanding control over other people’s freedom. If you’re terrified of a campus speaker and the harm their words might cause, then obviously he shouldn’t be allowed to speak. If you’re terrified of lawful gun owners and the harm they might do, then obviously they shouldn’t be allowed to assemble. The left has turned it’s own irrational fear into a justification for making illiberal and often unconstitutional demands. But that’s not how any of this works.

There was no violence at the rally Monday no matter how much their ideology tells them there should have been. Let them wrestle with the cognitive dissonance for a while and consider pieces like this one by Lavin as evidence they are still struggling with the idea that people they don’t like have rights too.