As many are already aware, yesterday afternoon Mr. Trump gave a press conference in the lobby of Trump Towers in New York City. Originally it was supposed to be focused on the administration’s infrastructure plans, but it quickly went off the rails due to Trump’s unhinged remarks and behavior. I’m not going to parse every abomination that came out of his mouth, as I suspect most of you have already seen the presser or read about it. You already know that instead of doing the right thing and unequivocally repudiating white nationalists and neo-Nazis, he made excuses for them and condemned what he called the “alt-left”, saying they were equally to blame for the violence in Charlottesville over the weekend. Insisting that some of the alt-right that descended upon this small quiet college town were “fine people” who were there to quietly protest the removal of Confederate statues, he pointed out the “peaceful” protests of Friday night on the University of Virginia campus.
These “fine people” mobbed the campus, holding Tiki torches and surrounded a small group of college students. Giving Nazi salutes, they also chanted “blood and soil”, a well-known Nazi slogan, and “Jews will not replace us.” They came armed with long guns and clubs, and wore swastikas on their clothing and brandished shields. Those attending were primarily hate groups identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and included:
The Traditional Workers Party, who advocates for racially exclusive communities and pushes anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
The Ku Klux Klan, which obviously needs no introduction.
Neo-Confederate groups who idolize the slave-owning, antebellum South.
Vanguard America, a well known white supremacists group.
I could keep going, but I’m getting sick to my stomach just thinking about it. Needless to say, these weren’t “fine people”. And anyone who was part of the “Unite the Right” rally but wasn’t one of these hate groups was just as complicit. Were there counter-protesters who met violence with violence? Yes. But to equate these two sides is not only the height of lunacy and ignorance, it’s dangerous. Immediately after his remarks, white supremacists like David Duke and Richard Spencer were thanking Mr. Trump for his remarks. In the space of twenty-minutes Mr. Trump thoughtlessly poured gasoline on the long-simmering tensions of race and religion in this country. But that’s okay because he was able to brag about his Charlottesville winery, and the thank you he received from Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer. The thank you that was in response to his finally, albeit reluctantly condemning white supremacist hate groups on Monday.
Am I outraged? You bet I am!
I’m outraged that I never got to meet some of my mother’s family because they were killed by Hitler and his Nazis, but there is still rampant anti-Semitism in this country.
I’m outraged that people in the U.S. have cause to be fearful due to their race, religion, and sexuality.
I’m outraged that there are so many people who are willing to turn a blind eye to the hate that’s so prevalent.
I’m outraged that the majority of Republican politicians continue to put Party before country.
I’m outraged that we have a narcissistic President who is so clearly demented, and is tearing apart our country, yet seems to be unstoppable.
And finally, I’m outraged that 32 year-old Heather Heyer was viciously murdered because she was standing up to hate.
America is at a tipping point right now. We can bury our heads and hope that things blow over, or we can speak out and make our voices heard. And with that I’m going to leave you with the wise words of Civil Rights pioneer, Congressman John Lewis.
If you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have the moral obligation to do something about it.