So I hop up on the poker table and look at my Blewberry and … I … can’t … even…. (More)
“Tuesday was a great day for David Duke and racists everywhere”
So opens the Washington Post’s op-ed this morning:
Tuesday was a great day for David Duke and racists everywhere. The president of the United States all but declared that he has their backs.
When a white supremacist stands accused of running his car into a crowd of protesters, killing one and injuring 19, Americans of goodwill mourn and demand justice. When this is done in the context of a rally where swastikas are borne and racist and anti-Semitic epithets hurled, the only morally justifiable reaction is disgust. When the nation’s leader does not understand this, the nation can only weep.
On Saturday, after the murder of an innocent protester in Charlottesville followed marches that included armed men and Nazi salutes, President Trump’s instinct was to blame both sides. Widespread criticism followed, including the resignations of business leaders from a White House advisory council and condemnation from political leaders of both parties. On Monday, Mr. Trump read a prepared statement condemning white supremacists and racism, delivering it in a manner suggesting he neither wrote nor endorsed the words. On Tuesday, he removed any doubt: His initial reaction, putting Nazis and those protesting them on equal moral footing, is how he really feels.
I disagree that “the nation can only weep,” and I’ll get to that in a moment.
Politico has the full text of the God-King’s comments, and you should read it. Set aside his utter bullshit about not wanting to make a statement until he had “all the facts.” That’s never stopped him before. And set aside his utter bullshit about “everyone said I made a beautiful statement” and calling reporters who challenged that “fake news.” That’s standard I Am The God-King rhetoric.
No, let’s go to the crux of his comments, where he insisted the people who stood against white supremacy in Charlottesville were just as evil as the white supremacists:
TRUMP: Okay, what about the alt-left that came charging at [indiscernible] – excuse me – what about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?
REPORTERS YELL INDISTINCTLY
TRUMP: What about this? What about the fact that they came charging – they came charging with clubs in their hands swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do.
Yes, he really said that. White supremacists started the fight, but those who stood up to them are just as guilty because … well … I guess because they didn’t let the white supremacists beat them enough.
He and his sewer spewers will doubtless claim that headlines took him out of context, but the context doesn’t make this better:
TRUMP: I will tell you something. I watched those very closely, much more closely than you people watched it. And you had, you had a group on one side that was bad. And you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now. You had a group – you had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit, and they were very, very violent.
REPORTER: Do you think what you call the alt left is the same as neo-Nazis?
TRUMP: Those people – all of those people, excuse me – I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups, but not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch.
Trump: ‘We’ll see what happens’ with strategist Bannon
REPORTER: Well, white nationalists –
TRUMP: Those people were also there, because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue Robert E. Lee. So – excuse me – and you take a look at some of the groups and you see, and you’d know it if you were honest reporters, which in many cases you’re not. Many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. So this week, it’s Robert E. Lee, I noticed that Stonewall Jackson’s coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after. You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?
Yes, he really did lump George Washington – our first president and widely regarded as “the father of our country” – in the same bin with Robert E. Lee – who committed treason. Probably because he heard that from Newt Gingrich on Fox News.
“There can be no moral ambiguity”
— Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan: “We must be clear. White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity.”
— Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona: “There’s no moral equivalency between racists & Americans standing up to defy hate & bigotry. The President of the United States should say so.”
— Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida: “Blaming ‘both sides’ for #Charlottesville?! No. Back to relativism when dealing with KKK, Nazi sympathizers, white supremacists? Just no.”
— Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio: “We must speak out clearly against the hatred, racism and white supremacists who descended upon #Charlottesville.”
— Republican Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas: “White supremacy, bigotry & racism have absolutely no place in our society & no one – especially POTUS – should ever tolerate it.”
Y’know who was thrilled? White supremacists:
The gratitude from the fringes of the American right came quickly.
“Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists,” tweeted David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader and outspoken Trump supporter who attended the Charlottesville protest.
“President Trump is right! One side had a permit to speak, one side charged with clubs & weapons! Look at the facts people,” tweeted Tim Gionet, a vocal alt-right activist who goes by “Baked Alaska” online.
On Breitbart, the nationalist website once run by senior Trump aide Steve Bannon (who called it a “platform” for the alt-right), the headline blared: “POTUS comes roaring back with press smackdown at Trump Tower.”
Richard Spencer, another outspoken white supremacist who supports Trump, also cheered on the address, calling it “fair and down to earth.”
“We came in peace,” he wrote later.
Yes, they came in peace … with guns and body armor and shields:
As I’ve said above, what was entirely different on Saturday was the presence of at least two dozen, by my count, white-supremacist militia members carrying semi-automatic weapons. What are the legal and political dimensions of that? I am guessing that in the long march of American history, people protesting with guns is probably not new. Yet Saturday felt frighteningly different to me. Does that alone constitute grounds to call for a state of emergency? Did the state of emergency allow the state police to confiscate arms?
In my own observations, I also saw counter-protesters who were in the face of the white supremacists. I can’t help thinking that it could’ve gotten a lot worse if one of the hard-left protesters (bordering on anarchists) provoked the wrong Nazi, who was carrying a semi-automatic.
Those who see what happened in Charlottesville as an example of moral equivalence are committing a moral offense. The alt-right, white supremacists, Nazis, etc., started Saturday’s event. They were both original cause and proximate cause. They were pushing the boundaries most of the day.
That’s not some leftist. That’s William Antholis at the conservative National Review. And the deadly car attack we’ve all heard about wasn’t a solitary incident:
About a block away, San Jose resident Kristin Savini and her husband were among another group of counter-protesters when an SUV filled with self-proclaimed white supremacists also accelerated into people voicing their opposition to them.
It was so close in time to the deadly incident nearby she initially thought that burgeoning news reports were about the collision she had just watched unfold.
“White supremacists were trying to leave a parking lot, and this woman just hit the gas and hit one of the kids. But he popped right back up,” Savini said. “We thought that’s what the news was talking about, and then realized there was another incident.”
The white supremacists came with guns. The white supremacists used cars as weapons. But “both sides?” Seriously?
“I’m 67. I’m not going to change and neither is Donald.”
The God-King’s both-sides-ism makes perfect sense if you consider his history of racist actions, as Bloomberg’s Timothy O’Brien relates:
I don’t think Trump is failing to rise to the majesty and demands of the office he now holds because he’s uncertain about how to respond to Charlottesville, or simply because he’s pandering to a vocal and vicious segment of his political base.
I suspect, rather, that the president isn’t being clear and forceful about Charlottesville because he has a long history as a race-baiter himself – and to overtly condemn others for the same is beyond him.
O’Brien offers a bill of particulars, and The Intercept’s Mehdi Hasan details them as well:
Consider the first time the president’s name appeared on the front page of the New York Times, more than 40 years ago. “Major Landlord Accused of Antiblack Bias in City,” read the headline of the A1 piece on Oct. 16, 1973, which pointed out how Richard Nixon’s Department of Justice had sued the Trump family’s real estate company in federal court over alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act.
“The government contended that Trump Management had refused to rent or negotiate rentals ‘because of race and color,’” the Times revealed. “It also charged that the company had required different rental terms and conditions because of race and that it had misrepresented to blacks that apartments were not available.” (Trump later settled with the government without accepting responsibility.)
Over the next four decades, Trump burnished his reputation as a bigot: he was accused of ordering “all the black [employees] off the floor” of his Atlantic City casinos during his visits; claimed “laziness is a trait in blacks” and “not anything they can control”; requested Jews “in yarmulkes” replace his black accountants; told Bryan Gumbel that “a well-educated black has a tremendous advantage over a well-educated white in terms of the job market”; demanded the death penalty for a group of black and Latino teenagers accused of raping a jogger in Central Park (and, despite their later exoneration with the use of DNA evidence, has continued to insist they are guilty); suggested a Native American tribe “don’t look like Indians to me”; mocked Chinese and Japanese trade negotiators by doing an impression of them in broken English; described undocumented Mexican immigrants as “rapists”; compared Syrian refugees to “snakes”; defended two supporters who assaulted a homeless Latino man as “very passionate” people “who love this country”; pledged to ban a quarter of humanity from entering the United States; proposed a database to track American Muslims that he himself refused to distinguish from the Nazi registration of German Jews; implied Jewish donors “want to control” politicians and are all sly negotiators; heaped praise on the “amazing reputation” of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who has blamed America’s problems on a “Jewish mafia”; referred to a black supporter at a campaign rally as “my African-American”; suggested the grieving Muslim mother of a slain U.S. army officer “maybe … wasn’t allowed” to speak in public about her son; accused an American-born Hispanic judge of being “a Mexican”; retweeted anti-Semitic and anti-black memes, white supremacists, and even a quote from Benito Mussolini; kept a book of Hitler’s collected speeches next to his bed; declined to condemn both David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan; and spent five years leading a “birther” movement that was bent on smearing and delegitimizing the first black president of the United States, who Trump also accused of being the founder of ISIS.
Oh and remember: we knew all of this before he was elected president of the United States of America. He was elected in spite of all this (yet another reminder that “not all Trump supporters are racist, but all of them decided that racism isn’t a deal-breaker”).
Some had hoped that Trump would be moderated by office; there was much talk of a presidential pivot. It was all utter nonsense and wishful thinking from lazy commentators who have found it difficult to cover, and call out, a president who regularly traffics in racially charged rhetoric while surrounding himself with an array of race-baiting advisers. Since entering the Oval Office, Trump has appointed Steve Bannon – former executive chairman of Breitbart News, which has stories tagged ‘Black Crime’ – as his White House chief strategist, and Jeff Sessions – who was once accused of calling a black official in Alabama a “nigger” – as his attorney general; he has claimed, without a shred of evidence, that millions of immigrants “voted illegally” for Hillary Clinton; and, perhaps most shocking of all, he has publicly and repeatedly belittled Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has claimed Native American heritage, as “Pocahontas.”
This is Racism 101 from a sitting U.S. president.
Hasan offers links to document every point in that long, ugly list. He concludes:
We would do well to heed the words of those who have spent decades studying this bizarre president. “Donald is a 70-year-old man,” Trump biographer David Cay Johnston reminded me in the run-up to his inauguration in January. “I’m 67. I’m not going to change and neither is Donald.”
No, he isn’t. He’ll keep boosting white supremacists, keep insisting that “many of them are fine people,” keep demanding we hold the people they attack equally culpable, I guess for not staying out of their way.
But we as a nation cannot merely weep. We must stand up and push back. We must confront the white supremacists, including the God-King. When progressive lawyers challenge his ‘facially neutral’ but plainly biased dictates in court, they should quote his words as evidence of discriminatory intent. When our media question him and his sewer spewers, they should never give him the benefit of the doubt on issues or racial injustice. And when we talk with his supporters, we should confront them with his open support for white supremacy … and ask why that’s not a deal-breaker for them.
Enough pretending. It’s time to face reality, and the reality is that the Electoral College – not a majority of voters – chose a lifelong racist for the highest office in our land.
Image Credit: Crissie Brown (BPICampus.com)
Good day and good nuts