Yesterday in a wild and rambling press conference, President Trump walked back his statements from Monday against the alt-right demonstrators in last weekend’s disturbances, returning to his stated position in his original comments that both sides share equal culpability. According to his statements, the counter-protestors are simply the “alt-left”, a mirror image of the alt-right and thus morally equivalent.
No. A thousand times no. There is no equivalence. In our culture, any moral person must stand up and proclaim that hate speech against other religions, other races, and other nationalities is wrong and despicable, and that we are obligated to speak out against it. White people are not naturally superior to brown and black people. The Christian faith is not the only ‘correct’ religion, and Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, etc. are entitled to worship their own god(s) in their own way (and atheists to worship no god at all). A white-only state would be an abomination and a rejection of everything that our country was built upon. The words spewing from the mouths of the neo-Nazis, the KKK, and the white supremacists are evil garbage, pure and simple, and deserve only condemnation.
That Donald Trump can’t manage to rise to a moral bar so low it’s practically on the ground and denounce in no uncertain terms the alt-right means that 1) he’s afraid to criticize people who (let’s admit it) helped to put him in office, or 2) (and this is the more frightening thought), he’s actually in sympathy with many of their beliefs, and so is making a false equivalence argument that this supposed “alt-left” is just as evil and violent as any of the alt-right fringe groups. Again, there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground on which to stand.
Either way, this is not the manner in which a president of the United States should be speaking and acting.
After all, David Duke, former KKK leader, tweeted this immediately following Trump’s wild press conference: “Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa.” On Saturday at the Charlottesville rally, Duke spoke and said this as well: “We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfill the promise of Donald Trump. That's what we believe in. That's why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he's going to take our country back.” White supremacist figurehead Richard Spencer commented that: “Trump's statement was fair and down to earth” and “Trump cares about the truth.”
David Duke and Richard Spencer, at least, appear to believe that Trump shares their views, that he is ‘one of them.’ Those of us who don’t believe in the supremacy of the white race; who don’t harbor religious-based, melanin-based, or gender-based prejudices; who don’t condone views rooted in WWII Nazi beliefs that our fathers and grandfathers fought and died to eliminate—we can’t afford to stay silent and complacent in the face of this. It’s our duty to speak out, and speak loudly.
And frankly, to those who still somehow support Trump, you need to realize any continued support just enables this hatred and allows it to spread. You too -- and you especially -- need to speak up and tell Trump that this is not acceptable.