The president's shameful response to Charlottesville

The president's shameful response to Charlottesville

The headlines out of Charlottesville read like something straight out of the Jim Crow-era South: Klansmen, Neo-Nazis, and white nationalists wreaking havoc and committing murder in a relatively cozy, quaint Southern town. It’s 2017 and this is still our reality in America. One hundred fifty-two years since the Civil War and people are still roving through the streets, fighting to protect their right to discriminate against other human beings.  

If anything, the violence in Charlottesville proves that no one is immune to hate. We are all susceptible. Charlottesville could be any town in America; Heather Heyer, the woman killed in an act of domestic terrorism committed by a white supremacist, could be anyone’s daughter, sister, or friend. What happened in Charlottesville is a stain on the fabric of the American way of life, and everyone, regardless of political affiliation, should be disgusted. That includes the president of the United States.  

Donald Trump’s apparent inability, or rather, refusal, to soundly denounce the participants of the rally is abhorrent. Congressional Republicans came out in droves to resolutely condemn White Nationalists, members of the KKK, and Neo-Nazis, but the leader of their party, the President of the United States, did not. He waffled and gave a vague, convoluted statement that reeked of insincerity. Of course, I wasn’t exactly surprised. Donald Trump built his entire brand on a shaky foundation of mendacity. He’s been lying from the beginning; did anyone actually think being elected president would change him? You can’t teach old dogs new tricks. 

The president is setting a dangerous precedent of moral equivalency. You cannot compare an assembly of hate groups to a group of people protesting hate. Yes, there were violent individuals on both sides. That is a proven fact, but insinuating that these two sides are equal in their actions is ridiculous. One group took to the streets to peddle an agenda of bigotry; the other group was out there defending American values like tolerance and acceptance. Insinuating that these two groups are on morally equal ground is absurd and near-sighted. These people were literal Nazis. We fought an entire war to eradicate Nazism. Why is it suddenly okay to be a Nazi in this country, Mr. President?

In times of crisis the American people, regardless of their political beliefs, should be able to look toward the president as a source of leadership. It’s the president’s job to right the ship and soothe the wounds. His remarks in the aftermath of the violence in Charlottesville prove that he is incapable of assuming that role, which leaves our country incredibly vulnerable in the face of an ever-changing world.  

The resurfacing of white nationalism in America should sound the alarm bells for everyone in this country. What happened in Charlottesville isn’t a left versus right problem. What lies at the heart of this despicable act is the difference between being right and being wrong. We cannot afford a president who doesn’t stand up and defend American values. Donald Trump came out on the wrong side of history this past weekend. Let’s hope that the next time tragedy strikes, he comes out on the right side.

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