LONDON – Responding to rising tensions in Charlottesville, including murder by a terrorist who drove a car through a crowd, President Trump finally spoke ‘We want to get this situation straightened out in Charlottesville…we want to see what we’re doing wrong as a country.’
What he failed to do however was to clearly acknowledge this as a terrorist incident, instead he referred to “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”
Established mainstream politicians however hit back. Joe Biden, the former Vice President of the United States clarified, ‘There is only one side.’
According to the FBI, 94 percent of terrorist attacks in the United States since 1980 were perpetrated by non-Muslims. And we see the harsh reality of this today, in Charlottesville.
It is of course very difficult for President Trump to speak out against white nationalist extremism, as this is the every base he exploited to win the presidency – even though he didn’t win the popular vote.
As the former leader of the KKK, David Duke said, ‘We are determined to take our own 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.’
Expressing the frustration of many Americans, the Mayor of Charlottesville, Mike Signer said, “I’m not going to make any bones about it. I place the blame for a lot of what you’re seeing in America today at the doorstep of the While House and the people around the President.”
The individuals include President Trump’s closest advisers such as Steve Bannon and former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, who hold the view that ‘fear of Muslims is rational,’ making it extremely difficult for the president to speak out against his own power base, even though his daughter Ivanka Trump had the courage to say what her father would not:
“There should be no place in our society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis.”
1:2 There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis.
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) August 13, 2017
The first victim of Charlottesville, was a 32 year old woman named Heather Heyer, whose last written message on social media read, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” She became the martyr that every white supremacist and every religious zealot dream they could be.
Heather was murdered by 20 year old James Field of Ohio,who was pictured earlier at a neo-Nazi rally, with white supremacist group Vanguard America.
Despite being describe as “very quiet and very bright” by his high school history teacher, Derek Weimer, he “believed in white supremacy and the Nazi ideology.” In the UK, he would have been a candidate for the government’s Prevent program. In the US, there appears to be very little activity against the preaching of hatred by white supremacists.
Neo Nazis Speak Up
When pressed by reporters, President Trump failed to openly label the incident as terrorism. Andrew Anglin, editor of the American neo-Nazi publication, Daily Stormer said, “He refused to even mention anything to do with us. When reporters were screaming at him about White Nationalism he just walked out of the room.”
It was left instead to Charlottesville Mayor Signer who stated, “It was domestic terrorism,” a sentiment understood by the United States Conference of Mayors, who said that “Mayors stand together against hate & violence.”
Similarly, other politicians did not hold back.
Hilary Clinton said, “My heart is in Charlottesville today, and with everyone made to feel unsafe in their country.”
Bernie Sanders added, “The white nationalist demonstration in #Charlottesville is a reprehensible display of racism and hatred that has no place in our society.”
Speaking of the incident former President Obama quoted Nelson Mandela: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love. For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion…” pic.twitter.com/InZ58zkoAm
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 13, 2017
President Trump did speak a truth when he spoke of this white nationalist threat, despite not actually calling it a white nationalist threat.
“It’s been going on for a long time in our country, not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. It’s been going on for a long, long time.”
But as Evelyn Fajardo observed on Twitter, “People were p*issed when Obama refused to call ISIS ‘Islamic terror.’ Where’s the outrage that Trump isn’t calling this ‘white supremacy?’ – It seems as if terrorism is from all sides but his side as it conflicts with the targeted mantra of fear and blame on others: it is either ‘their’ fault, ‘theirs and our’ fault, but it is never ‘our’ fault.
There seems no end in sight when American Christopher Cantwell, a speaker at the rally, and right-wing radio show host, after being maced by a police officer is caught on camera saying, ‘We’re going to f*ucking kill them. I promise you that.”
Imagine if such words were spoken by a brown or a black man? That a white supremacist can openly speak such threats without prosecution is endemic of the problem facing America today, where justice is increasing based on your skin color.
The moment from the rally today where speaker Chris Cantwell is maced and is told:
“We’re going to fucking kill them. I promise you that.” pic.twitter.com/WHU5XfXeHW
— Jack Smith IV (@JackSmithIV) August 13, 2017
American actor Mark Ruffalo expressed his frustrations, “Let’s begin to Stop White Supremacy, Neo Nazis, and KKK where they feel most welcome, the White House.”
Paul Dreczko elaborated on the irony of the march, “Sad to think that many of those marching in Charlottesville had grandfathers who fought against the Nazis and intolerance during WWII.”
As the Anne Frank Center tweeted, “We weep. Heather Heyer died fighting Nazis in America, 72 years after WWII. Heather, our hero. Anne would be proud.”
Indeed all of us are proud of those who stand up for fairness and justice. As Al Jazeera reported, it is a shame that President Trump has tweeted on the subject of terrorism 88 times since being a candidate, but never when the terrorist was white.
Comedian, Jenny Yang, summed it up well:
Muslims: They’re all terrorists
Mexicans: They’re all rapists
White Supremacists: There are many sides to this.”
It is an unfortunate day for us all when the leader of any nation does not have the courage to show leadership. It is either ‘their’ fault, ‘theirs and our’ fault, but it is never ‘our’ fault.