“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides. It has been going on for a long time in our country — not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. It has been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America.” — President Donald Trump on Saturday after a white power rally in Charlottesville, Va., left three dead.
During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump called Mexicans “rapists,” offered a Muslim ban, backed a wall with Mexico, disparaged the father of a slain Muslim soldier, declared a female journalist had “blood coming out of her wherever,” said a Mexican-American judge couldn’t be fair in a case against him, encouraged violence at his rallies, bragged about sexual assault on tape; and called his opponent, Hillary Clinton, a “nasty woman” at a nationally televised debate. This is not a complete list; it’s just off the top of my head at 5 a.m.
Long story short, it’s not difficult to see why Trump was endorsed by the KKK. So when beltway pundits and some on the left moaned about having to vote for the “lesser of two evils,” some of us with an understanding of history and who have encountered extremism in our own lives were frustrated. The choice was between someone you may not have particularly liked for whatever reason — her voice, her husband’s record on crime, her neoliberalism (whatever that is) — and a dude endorsed by the KKK. Pick a side.
After Trump narrowly won the election, pundits kept waiting for the pivot to presidential behavior. Instead, to put a fine point on his campaign courting of white supremacists, he put three well-known figures in the White House: Steve Bannon who bragged about his publication, Breitbart, being a platform for the “alt-right”; Stephen Miller, known for his anti-immigrant screeds; and Seb Gorka, who has ties to Nazi-allied groups in Hungary.
White supremacists are emboldened. This weekend, they marched in Charlottesville, Va., a flashpoint because a confederate statue is slated to be removed. On Saturday, James Alex Fields, 20, allegedly plowed his car through anti-fascist protesters, killing one and leaving 19 injured. Two police officers were also killed in a helicopter crash.
The president went on TV after the tragedy and pundits expected him to condemn white supremacist violence. He didn’t. Instead, he blamed bigotry and violence “on many sides,” and weirdly brought up former President Obama. Needless to say, the neo-Nazi website, The Daily Stormer, was elated and announced Trump was on their side (“He loves us all.”)
If Trump had done the bare minimum and briefly condemned white supremacists for the tragic violence, he would have enjoyed media accolades for days, perhaps weeks. His team knows this. There is no benefit of the doubt here. This was a calculated move and a chilling one.
I am so sick of beltway pundits fetishizing a warped concept of objectivity when this is where we’re at today. Desmond Tutu perhaps put it best: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
My grandfather put off having a family and enlisted at age 32 to fight Nazis. He got his back shot up and lived with incredible pain until he passed away at 97. My daughter’s Jewish family was murdered by Nazis in Europe. And now Nazis are emboldened right here, prepping for a race war they believe has the blessing of the president of the United States. “Many sides,” my ass.
Pick a side.