Sunday, August 13, 2017

Aug. 12, 2017: Racists wake up America, but not Trump

White nationalists displayed confederate and nazi symbols in Charlottesville, Virginia Aug. 12.

THE DEAFENING SILENCE of Donald Trump this morning woke me up.

When he finally did say something about the violence in Chalottesville, Va., his tepid response drew flak from Republicans and Democrats.

While white nationalists openly marched through the streets of Charlottesvill, Va., clashing against police and counter-protestors, the normally quick-to-tweet Trump stayed away from any messaging on social media until his wife broke the silence with her own tweet.

The "Unite the Right" rally was originally planned to show opposition to the planned removal of a statue honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in the city's Emancipation Park.

As the clashes continued into the afternoon, the leader of the U.S., Donald Trump, stayed silent while other Republican leaders - such as Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Marco Rubio, both of whom are not entirely innocent in enabling the ultra far right, were quick to condemn the violence and hate. 


Oddly, Trump's immigrant wife, Melania, was the first person from the White House to note the violence. Usually, the Trump White House strategists don't like the First Lady upstaging her husband. It would be glorious if she acted on her own without consulting her husband.



Trump's failure to quicky condemn the violence that his presidency and campaign have spawned speaks volumes about where he stands and who is giving him PR advice. Trump's strategy to divide the country and to curry the favor of the disgruntled white male racists is becoming more and more apparent.

Because his wife beat him to the punch, do you think Trump felt compelled to release his own denunciation of Charlottesville violence - 45 minutes - after Melania.



When Trump finally did address the Charlottesville situation in a pre-sceduled event where he was supposed to talk about veterans affairs, his comments fell far short of condemning the white nationalists. Instead, he suggested "many sides" were to blame for the deadly violence. There was no mention of new-Nazis, the KKK, white nationalists or the alt-right.

As is his custom, he blamed everyone else but himself. Instead of taking any responsibility for emboldening the racist organizations taking part in the "Unite the Right" rally. The violence, he said,  has "been going on for a long, long time" before he took office.

Trump was getting heat from all sides, not just from his usual critics from the Democratic side of aisle. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the longest serving Republican senator in history, said on Twitter: "We should call evil by its name. My brother didn't give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home."

Let's not forget, Trump has still not tweeted anything condemning the bombing of a mosque in Minnesota a week ago. Perhaps he doesn't want t offend his supporters or admit that his anti-Muslim rhetoric is inspiring violence.

***
Why Charlottseville? Generally, the city is a liberal community as the home of the University of Virginia. Eighty percent of its voters voted for Hillary. 

The city council voted to remove the statues of Confederate Generals Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee. Litigation has stalled the statues' removal.

The white supremacists rallied around the statues as a form of misdirected pride in their heritage. 

Let's be clear, Lee is a traitor who tried to bring down the Union. He is not a heroic figure. The Civil War was not about "states rights," it was about the right to own another human being - slavery.

A statue to a traitor is not honoring our heritage, it's a reminder of how low people can go to rationalize evil.

The Charlottesville city council was correct in renaming the Robert E. Lee Park to Emancipation Park and the removal of the Lee statue is the correct vote.

Friday night, as a warmup to today's tragic events, about 100 white supremacists marched through the University of Virginia campus. It was chilling to see them carrying torches. The image conjured up images of the hooded KKK when they made their night rides to intimidate and kill African/Americans.

The torches being used were tiki-torches that you can buy in any garden store or Pier One outlet.  The irony is, those torches were more than likely made in China.

The white nationalists and their tiki-torches.

***
PTSD: The events of the day was the removal of a scab on an unhealed wounds. All the hurt caused by the thousands of micro-aggressions that people of color suffered in their lives came rushing forth as if the wound was inflicted yesterday.

All the racist slurs, the jokes, the unintended slights, the invisibility, the feelings of being inadequate, of being told you're not good enough, the rejections, the bullying, the hurt that all these incidents caused and which I repressed in order to keep my sanity came rushing back in a series of flashbacks. 


***
Who are these racists? I think it is pretty safe to say that not one of the terrorists in Charlottsville was a Muslim or one of those "bad hombres" Trump has railed against or is trying to target with his immigration policies.

The incidents brought Kurt Bardella back onto the media to explain the alt-right to cable news anchors. Bardella, a Korean who was adopted as a baby, was a consultant to Brietbart News. He quit that job when he realized the violent nature of his clients.

Various terms were used to describe the terrorists: white nationalist, neo-Nazis, facists, white supremacists, the alt-right. To me, they are cut from the same cloth. One more term that describes the demonstrators could/should be added, "Trump supporters." 

No less than David Duke, former head of the Ku Klux Klan, linked all the ultra right-wing groups to Trump in a tweet that responded to Trump after Trump condemned the violence, (but not white supremacists), 


“This represents a turning point for the people of this country,” said Duke earlier in the day at the rally. “We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump. Because he said he’s going to take our country back. That’s what we gotta do.”

These ultra far right groups believe they have gained legitimacy because some of their members are on the White House staff as Trump advisors. Steve Bannon and  Steven Miller. They see Trump as their champion.

For someone quick to attack his critics, his refusal to utter KKK, new-Nazies, facists or white nationalists is telling. The only other group to be spared his twitter wrath is Russia and Putin.

Let's be very clear! The targets of these wackos are people of color: Asians, African Americans, Latinos. When they here Trump's campaign cry of "Lets Make America Great Again," what they hear is "Let's make American white again!."
***
In the afternoon, one of white nationalists drove his car at high speed into a crowd of counterprotestors, killing one woman and injuring 19, several seriously. 

The driver was arrested and identified as James Alex Fields, Jr., a 20-year-old resident of Ohio.

A police helicopter monitoring the protests crashed killing the pilot and a passenger.  The crash is still under investigation.

Almost as an afterthought, Trump finally tweeted his sympathies for the three who died.

Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions said that the Department of Justice will investigate the Charlottesville violence.

***

Calling out the alt-right: Virginia  Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, was did not mince words in his strong denunciation of the right-wing groups:

"I have a message to all the white supremacists and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today. Our message is plain and simple. Go home," said McAuliffe at a press conference Saturday evening. "You are not wanted in this great commonwealth."

"You came here today to hurt people, and you did hurt people," the governor said. "But my message is clear. We are stronger than you. You have made our commonwealth stronger. You will not succeed."

"There is no place for you here, there is no place for you in America," he continued.

Finally, a politician with the guts to call out the racists and bigots.
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