The events in Charlottesville yesterday and today are not the fault of the President. He is, though, at least partially responsible for the environment. He has flirted with white nationalists and various other hate groups. It is the final, most desperate version of the ‘Southern Strategy’.
Our President, encouraging violence:
So I got a little notice. We have wonderful security guys. It said, ‘Mr. Trump, there may be somebody with tomatoes in the audience.’ So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. Just knock the hell …. I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise. I promise.
“In the good old days this doesn’t happen because they used to treat them very, very rough. And when they protested once, they would not do it again so easily. But today they walk in and they put their hand up and they put the wrong finger in the air at everybody. And they get away with murder, because we’ve become weak.”
“Part of the problem and part of the reason it takes so long (to remove the protesters) is nobody wants to hurt each other anymore, right? And they’re being politically correct the way they take them out. So it takes a little bit longer. And honestly, protesters they realize it — they realize there are no consequences to protesting anymore. There used to be consequences. There are none anymore.”
President Trump winking at racists / white nationalists, etc:
When asked about being offered support (in 2016) by David Duke:
“Well, just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke. OK? I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So, I don’t know.”
When further pressed by Jake Tapper, who said, “OK. I mean, I’m just talking about David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan here, but…”
…our future President responded:
“I don’t know any — honestly, I don’t know David Duke. I don’t believe I have ever met him. I’m pretty sure I didn’t meet him. And I just don’t know anything about him.”
(Trump, on multiple previous occasions (1991 and 2000) clearly identified Duke as a bigot and racist, and put out a public statement that acknowledged Duke as a Klansmen.)
Today, our President said:
We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time.
No, sir. It’s not on many sides. The hatred, bigotry, and violence is, historically and recently, almost exclusively demonstrated by one side- the side that will do anything in an attempt to guarantee that white people will be on top of society. And, as much as you might want to weasel out of your words, you are complicit. You have encouraged violence. You have flirted with racists and white nationalists. You have leveled both racist and islamophobic claims at our previous President. You have demonstrated dangerous prejudices, assuming all black people live in ghettos. You have demonstrated your own acceptance of racism through your housing policies.1
I keep hearing from people who mourn violent acts, that “This is not the America I know and love.”
If that’s true, then these people are profoundly ignorant. We are a violent nation. Our murder rate is an embarrassment among developed nations.2 We still cling to hate that should have died a hundred years ago, claiming it is ‘history’ or ‘heritage’. Auschwitz is history, and yet I doubt you see many German teens hanging a Nazi flag from the back of their truck on the way to see Florida-Georgia Line. We import hate, so that now, after fighting a war to defeat them, Nazis are popping up again on our shores.
All the while, we had African American troops fighting to liberate Europe during WWII, knowing damn well that they couldn’t vote when they got home. We had Daniel Inouye, who went on to become a senator, deal with racism and xenophobia on his way home to Hawaii, after spending 20 months recovering from wounds he suffered in WWII:
I went into an Oakland barbershop–four empty chairs–and a barber comes up to me and wants to know if I’m Japanese. Keep in mind I’m in uniform with my medals and ribbons and a hook for an arm. I said, ‘Well my father was born in Japan.’ The barber replied, ‘We don’t cut Jap hair.’ I was tempted to slash him with my hook,” [from the arm he had lost in battle], “but then I thought about all the work the 442nd had done and I just said, ‘I feel sorry for you,’ and walked out. I went home without a haircut.”
We don’t live in an America where everyone is equal. We don’t live in the country that so many people claim- the one where violent racism and bigotry has no place. I have to constantly remind myself that our founders said the words “All men are created equal”- unironically- while owning slaves.
I am proud of how far we’ve come. I’m proud of the many people I know, who talk and teach and fight every day to keep making this nation better, until one day we can live up to the rhetoric of our founders, and not their actions. Until then, I hope people start saying, “This is not the America I dream we can be”. Because, until we get there, today’s Charlottesville is real life America.3