Unpacking Charlottesville

August 14, 2017

Instead of jabbering on about my own thoughts about our President’s reaction to the events of August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, I thought I would share some of the most interesting comments I’ve seen to date.

First, some great tweets to give us some much-needed perspective:

• “Thought it was worth noting that more than 750,000 already gave their lives fighting Nazis and the Confederacy.” @pbump
• “Imagine sucking so f***ing bad that being a white guy is hard for you?” @ mikeyfrecks
• “US Army: Charlottesville suspect reported for basic military training but failed to meet standards and was released from active duty.” @jaketapper (Observation: Perhaps Tomi Lahren was right?)
• “Let it sink in: Today a woman died on US soil while fighting Nazis.” @mattaukamp
• “Not many presidents could make threatening nuclear war the second worst thing he did in a week.” @gadyepstein
• “Wish Trump could find the same anger for murderous Nazis as he did for Nordstrom after it stopped selling his daughter’s handbags.” @gilbertjasono
• “Nazis and confederates are white people that lost wars to other white people but somehow its still brown people’s fault.” Open Mike Eagle
• “Trumps thoughts on Obama – Disaster; Paris – Sh**hole; White House – dump; Boy Scouts – liars; Neo-Nazi Rally – many sides to issue.” @MattOswaltPA
• “The only good thing Hitler ever did was kill Hitler.” @blainecapatch
• “The only reason for an American to hold a Nazi flag is if it has been captured in battle.” @TKOastIsBack
• “If you have ever wondered what you would have done in Germany in 1937, or during the Civil Rights movement, you’re doing it right now.”

Next, some strong words from GOP leaders…

• Senator Orrin Hatch, R – Utah: “We should call evil by its name. My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.”
• Senator John McCain, R – Arizona: “White supremacists aren’t patriots, they’re traitors – Americans must unite against hatred & bigotry. #Charlottesville
• Senator Cory Gardner, R – Colorado: “This is terrorism, this is domestic terrorism, this is white nationalism, and it has to stop.”

…even some who ran for president in 2016 (but apparently weren’t racist enough), who thought that the perhaps our President ought to call these hoodlums out for what they are:

• Senator Ted Cruz, R – Texas: “The Nazis, the KKK, and white supremacists are repulsive and evil, and all of us have a moral obligation to speak out against the lies, bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred that they propagate.”
• Senator Marco Rubio, R – Florida: “Nothing patriotic about #Nazis, the #KKK or #WhiteSupremacists. It’s the direct opposite of what #Americaseeks to be.”
• Jeb Bush – “The white supremacist and their bigotry do not represent our great country. All Americans should condemn this vile hatred. #Charlottesville.”
• Mike Huckabee – “‘White Supremacy’ crap is the worst kin of racism – it’s EVIL and perversion of God’s truth to ever think our Creator values some above others.”
• NJ Gov. Chris Christie (R) – “We reject the racism and violence of white nationalists like the ones acting out in Charlottesville. Everyone in leadership must speak out.”
• Senator Lindsey Graham, R – South Carolina: “[Trump] missed an opportunity to be very explicit here. These groups seem to believe they have a friend in Donald Trump in the White House.”
• Ohio Gov. John Kasich: “I think a president can always provide some leadership on a subject like this.”

Even some in Trump’s own administration opined that what happened was bad and that white supremacists aren’t cool, such as…

• Vice President Mike Pence: “We have no tolerance for hate and violence from white supremacists, neo Nazis or the KKK. We should be putting the attention where it belongs, and that is on those extremist groups that need to be pushed out of the public debate entirely and discredited for the hate groups and dangerous fringe groups that they are.”
• Attorney General Jeff Sessions: “When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated.”
• Opportunist in Chief, Ivanka Trump: “There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis.”
• Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert: “I condemn white supremacists and racists and white Nazi groups and all the other groups that espouse this kind of hatred and exclusion.”

Perhaps in an attempt to remind us what leadership looks like, former President Barack Obama had to be all noble and stuff, tweeting a quote from Nelson Mandela: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love. For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” But you can just ignore him, because, Hillary’s emails.

Despite the good intentions of those in the Trump Administration who believe that people brandishing torches and carrying Nazi flags are irredeemably despicable, some thought that perhaps our President should have been more clear on that point:

• “If your staff has to clarify that you’re not a white supremacist, you are a galactically sh**y president and/or a white supremacist.” @kibblesmith

But at least ONE group was happy – Neo Nazi Website “The Daily Stormer:”

• “He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us,” wrote Andrew Anglin, the website’s founder. No condemnation at all. When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him.”

As John Oliver said, moreover, “Nazis are a lot like cats. If they like you, it’s probably because you’re feeding them.”

The always gracious Governor John Kasich wondered if perhaps President Trump might be “uncomfortable” discussing the issue, stating, “[t]here are a lot of people who are just not comfortable with the issue…” But, as @epicciuto noted on Twitter, “Trump was more willing to call his country’s intelligence community Nazis than he was to call actual Nazis Nazis.”

Indeed, on January 11, 2017, Trump tweeted, “[i]ntelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?”

And that’s as good a question now as it was seven months ago: Are we in fact living in a society where Nazism and white supremacy is acceptable and tolerated by those in charge of the government?

By your deafening silence, Mr. President, so it would seem.

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