Three simple words, uttered under the disgraceful guise of being fair and equitable, debased the Donald Trump presidency and the country to a lower point than the already low bar set during the last eight months. Those three words? “On many sides.”
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”
Speaking about the white supremacist rally where 32-year-old Heather Heyer was murdered by a man driving his car through counter-protesters against the white supremacist movement, Donald Trump somehow managed to implicitly side with neo-Nazis.
Donald Trump once again stepped to the podium 48 hours later, this time to finally, explicitly denounce the white supremacist movement. The delay before this response, as well as the hollow “they’re making me do this” tone he adapted, served to make the statement toothless.
Lest someone somewhere be convinced by his insipid statement, the president once again took to the podium Aug. 15, this time filled with fury and bitterness, as has become the trademark of this presidency.
He, among other things, defended the delay in his response, his association with White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, and even took the time to peddle his winery. The most telling quote came when he was pressed by a reporter about the protests and the death and injuries caused to one side.
“I watched those much more closely than you people watched it, and 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 that right now. You had a group on one side that came charging in, without a permit, and they were very, very violent.”
This is an unqualified victory for white supremacists and their movement.
David Duke, former Ku Klux Klan leader, took to Twitter to thank the president for his statement: “Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa.”
Many other prominent white supremacists and neo-Nazi leaders rejoiced in the wake of the press conference, congratulating and thanking President Trump for standing up for them.
The statement is not only revolting on its surface but may be the most dangerous moment of this presidency.
Hate groups in this country have been emboldened since the election, where Donald Trump publicly ran on a campaign of similar hate to their ideals. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the total number of hate groups in the country have grown 17 percent from 2014 to 914 total groups today, a troubling trend, especially given that the president appears unwilling to do anything to stand up to hate in the country.
White supremacists and similar groups have already come out with a declaration of their intention to keep fighting and pushing their way of life. Already, white nationalist groups have requested permission to protest in other locations throughout the country. A white supremacist leader named Matthew Heimbach said, “[White nationalist groups] are going to be more active than ever before.”
White supremacists are invigorated by Donald Trump, and that’s a scary idea for the oppressed in this country. This state of affairs further marginalizes and endangers the most compromised members of society and it has become clear that this administration will not stand up for what is right and is perfectly fine emboldening hate groups.
Many watched as the protesters, described by President Trump as “protesting very quietly,” chanted “You will not replace us! Jews will not replace us!” Many watched as armed militants showed out with automatic weapons to defend the white supremacists. Many watched videos of a terrorist Nazi sympathizer driving his car into people protesting against white supremacy. And then many watched as Donald Trump stood in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York City to defend the side of hate and bigotry.
There is no “both sides” to a fight where one side stands up for the oppressed and their liberty to control their bodies and actions and the other is diametrically opposed to basic human rights. One side believes that people of every creed and color deserve the right to live, the other doesn’t. It’s as simple as that.
At every opportunity, we must make a stand against hate in our communities and in the country as a whole. It’s time to make our stand and show white supremacists and sympathizers that their hate has no place in this country. It needs to be a frightening proposition for people to reveal that they don’t believe in the rights for certain people to exist in this country and they need to be publically shamed until they go back into hiding.
There may never be a total elimination of these hateful groups from the world, but we have a responsibility to eliminate them from the public eye as much as humanly possible.