Trump is the president of the United States, so when he speaks people listen. And he certainly says things that get our attention.
I don’t mean those mischievous tweets that are obviously intended to provoke us or divert our attention from more sobering news. I would suggest ignoring those tweets – most of them anyway.
But when the president holds a press conference and lectures us about important – and tragic – events, we can’t just let his words blow in the wind. We have to respond.
For example, his defense of white nationalists who descended on Charlottesville last weekend cannot be allowed to stand. Above all, his depiction of some marchers as “fine people” must be refuted.
“Fine people” do not join marchers displaying Nazi symbols and chanting Nazi slogans. Yes, the marchers have a constitutional right to protest the removal of a Confederate statue but “fine people” do not condone the offensive way in which they chose to protest.
Trump seems to blame the murder of 32-year-old Heather Heyer (at right) on “both sides,” and to me that is outrageous. She was killed when a Nazi sympathizer deliberately drove his car into a crowd protesting against the rally. Many others were injured, some critically.
Apparently to mitigate the horror of this act, Trump implies violence by leftist groups contributed to the incident.
That’s offensive – and insulting.
Some antagonists of the white supremacists – notably a group known as Antifa – advocate violence. But they weren’t involved when Heyer was mowed down. She was marching peacefully.
Obviously, there should be no place for physical violence in America’s ongoing racial divide. Violence only leads to more violence and widens the chasm between the races.
I did not witness the rally, so I won’t get into the who-hit-whom-first details. But, in any case, I would argue that the display of Nazi symbols and the chanting of Nazi slogans are the kind of provocation you can expect to trigger violence.
Of course Trump wasn’t there, either. So I don’t know how he can say:
You had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, okay? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly.
And how did he see “troublemakers” in “black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats”? In the videos I’ve seen, it was the white nationalists who carried baseball bats.
Obviously, Trump sympathizes with the “Unite the Right” marchers. Obviously he sees nothing wrong in the display of Nazi symbols and the advocacy of white supremacy.
I have to wonder whether such a man is fit to be America’s president – and the leader of the free world.