On the Virginia Protests, White Supremacy and Donald Trump

Reading the headlines about white supremacists rallying at the University of Virginia makes me wonder: Shouldn’t it be easy to condemn these people and their racist viewpoints? Shouldn’t we be able to, unequivocally and without hesitation, say that their actions are wrong? I am curious especially because the President of the United States seemed to be unable to do these things at his press conference today.

Watching Donald Trump speak, I was, like many others, waiting for him to utter the words “White supremacists.” But he did not call the protesters what they are. He didn’t even acknowledge that they were any more in the wrong than the counter-protesters (some of whom, by the way, were hit with a car in what many are calling an act of domestic terrorism).

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” Trump said. His words have prompted many to ask: “What sides?” The torch-carrying, Nazi-saluting white supremacists started this protest last night; the “other side” would be, I guess, the people counter-protesting. There are not “many sides” contributing to the hatred and bigotry—there is only one.

That Trump didn’t outright condemn the protesters speaks volumes. His campaign rhetoric emboldened people because it made it seem like it was OK to act upon stereotypes and to discriminate against people. And his policy and legislation as president—from his Muslim ban to his recent immigration policy which would reduce the number of legal immigrants to the U.S. and give preference to those who speak English—only further invigorate white nationalist sentiments.

After the election, David Duke, former leader of the KKK, said that Trump winning was “one of the most exciting nights of (his) life.” Today, Duke said that, “We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump.” Trump has rebuked Duke in the past, but today he failed to openly decry the values of the white supremacists.

More and more, our societies are becoming more diverse. Many of us believe wholeheartedly in the undeniable truth that people of all races and ethnic backgrounds are, and deserved to be treated as, equal. So people like the white supremacists in Virginia feel threatened. In a Twitter thread, user @JuliusGoat made an excellent point about the protesters. “They are chanting ‘we will not be replaced.’ Replaced as … what? I’ll tell you. Replaced as the only voice in public discussions. Replaced as the only bodies in the public arena. Replaced as the only life that matters,” he said.

The actions of the protesters, as well as Trump’s response so far, are disturbing for a myriad of reasons. Had the protesters not been white, it’s likely that Trump would have issued a much stronger condemnation of their actions and words. Furthermore, that white supremacists are marching at all—in a progressive America, in 2017, no less—is a chilling indication that we, as a society, have not come as far as we may like to think.

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16 thoughts on “On the Virginia Protests, White Supremacy and Donald Trump

  1. He makes it seem as though the innocent people plowed over by the car from behind were on the same level as those murderous thugs who plowed them over. Despicable.

    1. It’s a word game, a dance of moral equivalency with no meaning; blaming everybody is the same as blaming nobody. Trump is a nihilist constantly in search of an enemy to fight against with no belief in anything but his own glory.

  2. We are so deficient in understanding the race problem in the United States. This will get people talking and thinking for a few days about race issues, but our attention spans are to short to keep a healthy conversation going!

  3. To say that Donald Trump is the source of the problem because you expect him to utter the words that mirror some particular dogma, is disingenuous at best. What he said about “All sides,” is completely accurate, all sides are certainly just as culpable, as those that report these events with the equivalency of a mime.

  4. As much as I’m Kenyan and live in Kenya, I tend to think the US is in the hands of a dictator at the moment. A man who seems to dim others as less important. Seems to think his race is superior to any other and this is very dangerous to his people. What happened in Virginia is extremely sad and an issue that needs to be addressed on a more serious note that that which he did. He’s not any better than the supremacists themselves.

  5. This whole ordeal sickens me. How can we move on from hate if we putting people in positions like the president who advocate it in one way or another. Statements that those with darker skin commit more crime or “grab her by the pussy”. I honestly wasn’t a Hillary fan (I’d love a woman as president, don’t get me wrong) but how could the masses chose Trump? Not all Trump supporters are necessarily racist but voting for him was advocating this behavior.

  6. Thank you for writing this post. I agree with every one of your words. Trump is really just revealing what everyone should have seen coming, at least since birtherism (if not before). In any account, I wanted to propose one other dimension to this situation that is likely beneath it all. Trump is likely an undiagnosed narcissistic sociopath. I invite you and your followers to read an article I posted a year ago. It will shed some additional light on the backdrop. Thank you kindly. https://twoifbycharmwordpress.wordpress.com/

  7. I think the right and left hear the President through our own filters. To many youth, they hear through the emotion and with a passion for social justice. To older folks, they hear through the non-passionate ears of the law. For middle aged like myself we may be a blend.
    Obviously, vehivular homicide is criminal and wrong. So much so, and so plainly, thst perhaps it does not deserve much breath.
    The equivalency our President alluded to is not about race, but how protestors both left and right, break the law in their METHOD of protest.
    Why should Antifa, BLM, CI, or KKK orANY group be allowed to disrupt the peace to illegally remove any public art or property? The courts are open, there is a procedure to dissent, move, remove any statue or symbol from public property.
    Why not try that angle first, and civil disobedience second?
    Thanks for your post!

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