Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Thoughts about Charlottesville and our "president"

Fairly recently I had an apartment in Charlottesville for 21 months, I got to know the town very well. After the protests and violence, some have asked me, "aren't you glad you got out of there?" That reaction to what occurred in Charlottesville told me that people did not fully understand the situation, at least not initially.

I decided to write the following email to several of my friends, sending it Sunday evening:
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A couple of points:

1) Charlottesville ("Cville") is a liberal and progressive small city, surrounded by much right-wing, Republican districts. What we saw this weekend was NOT the residents of Charlottesville (although I'm sure many Cville residents comprised the anti-Nazi protesters). The white supremacist, neo-Nazi protesters were from 
outside Cville and frankly outside Virginia. Example: the Nazi murderer who drove the car into the crowd was from OHIO, not Virginia.

2) The town of Charlottesville voted to have the Robert E. Lee statue removed, something that many believe was LONG overdue. But that was the business of the citizens of Charlottesville. Why were there people from outside Cville, and even outside Virginia, that decided to show up to protest the decision that the people of Cville voted on? I just love how Republicans are all for "states rights", keeping it "local,' and yet in this case, when Cville residents voted to remove this statue, "outside forces" decided to show up and express their unhappiness.... The fact is leaders of several white supremacist & neo-Nazi hate groups planned for weeks if not months to make this protest a big event, a splashy media spectacle to gain national attention. It worked.

3) As for the University of Virginia (UVA), the university "allowed" the parade of the white supremacists on Friday evening, which many wondered why? I wouldn't say UVA allowed it, but rather UVA is a public institution, not private, and they can't necessarily stop people from walking on their campus. You know, that pesty Constitution, Bill of Rights, free speech, etc. But the president of UVA did issue a strong statement as she condemned these people and what they stood for. That said it's still very bad optics for UVA as people don't make the distinction (including the media) and blur things together, believing that UVA all but endorsed the white supremacist parade -- not true!

4) It's really sad. My son asked me, "Dad, if we had moved to Charlottesville, would we now want to leave?" I had to explain to him much of what I wrote above, how Charlottesville is not to be blamed for this travesty, how they actually voted to do the right thing, remove a symbol of pro-slavery, and as a result outside hate groups decided to target Charlottesville as a symbol of hate. This protest was in the works for many weeks, months, it was not spur-of-the-moment. Many hate groups, white supremacists, neo-Nazis and KKK members all coordinated and decided they would take a "stand" with Charlottesville, make Cville the example for not removing Lee statues (note: many other towns and cities across USA have voted to remove Robert Lee statues, but these hate groups decided Cville would be their "final"  line in the sand).
In fact, I said to my son, if Cville decided to do nothing, to NOT vote to remove the statue, that would be worse as it would be the wrong thing, to allow a pro-slavery symbol to stand AND to be silent about it. Yes, there would then have been no protests and violence, BUT that's giving in to the hate groups, keeping wrong in place, as they would like for it to be and remain.

Of course, what's ultimately worse about this weekend is our president's response. As Trump did during his 2016 campaign, he did his usual "dog whistle" crap to "condemning" white supremacist, neo-Nazi hate groups. Meaning he didn't condemn them. Instead, he decided to condemn EVERYONE, with his now infamous comment, there is blame to go around "on many sides" -- REALLY?!!  it's just a coincidence that the side that decided to drive a car into a crowd was the white supremacist, neo-Nazi side?? And Trump does not decide to SPECIFICALLY condemn these hate groups BY NAME??!! No, of course not, since they make up a big part of his base!! Hell, without them, he would not have become president (since he actually lost the popular vote by 3 million votes).

And please don't tell me he's out today with a clarification, PLEASE!!!! It doesn't matter, too late!! AS PRESIDENT, WHAT MATTERS IS NOT JUST WHAT YOU SAY BUT WHEN. Trump's strong specific condemnation should have come immediately following the incident, NOT 24 or 48 hours later, after he was harshly criticized by nearly everyone on the planet. I mean, for Ted Cruz to look presidential versus Trump, that's saying something!!! But more importantly, these hate groups already got their wink-wink from Trump, their unspoken gesture of approval with the "on many sides" reference. They know that whatever Trump says later is just forced sentiment that Trump had to do to cave to media pressure. But they all know what Trump and his administration truly felt based on his initial words. There's no correcting that now with "further clarification" or with Mike Pence saying whatever 24 hours later. And I laughed when I saw Ivanka's tweet, trying to take heat off daddy -- just imagine if Chelsea tweeted for a president Hillary!!  Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, etc. would have a field day!!!

KEY QUESTION: if Trump doesn't have the very basic wisdom and presidential awareness to appropriately handle this awful incident in Charlottesville, how can we expect him to handle the much more complex North Korea situation??!!!!

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