By Matilde Bechet
A devastating scene unfolded on August 11th and 12th in Charlottesville, Virginia. People were expected to protest for and against the removal of the confederate statue of General Robert E. Lee. Instead, violence inflicted by alt-right groups, which included white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan, ensued and tragedy occurred. After one person was killed and at least 34 were injured during the protest, the death toll increased after two state troopers lost their lives during a helicopter monitoring of the protests, according to The New York Times.
The “Unite the Right,” a party celebrating white nationalism in the U.S., assembled in Charlottesville to protest the dismantling of the statue of Robert E. Lee; however, the protest only displayed enmity. Soon after news broke of the events, Americans awaited on President Trump’s response. Unfortunately, the president failed to provide solace.
On Saturday, August 12th, President Trump delivered a disillusioned speech regarding the events in Charlottesville. His words fell short, failing to directly denounce the involvement of hostile and racist groups. The president focused on blaming “both sides” while encouraging citizens to “restore the bonds of trust and loyalty between one another,” referring to the alt-right and their opposition.
Can Americans who oppose the alt-right movement actually form a “trust bond,” as President Trump stated, with people who tarnish America’s identity? It is not possible for the forging of such a relationship, especially, when these hate groups diminish society by cropping pictures of “Jewish Journalists [and] photoshopping them into images of Nazi Gas Chambers,” as reported by Vox.
The fact that members of “Unite the Right” consider themselves “patriots” while chanting racist ideology and saluting Hitler, highlights the extent of the problem that must be suppressed. Yet, President Trump wants Americans to demonstrate “true affection” for people who chant, “Jews will not replace us” as seen on the VICE News documentary, Charlottesville: Race and Terror.
On August 12th, President Trump spoke again briefly about Charlottesville’s state of emergency, and he hastened to discuss America’s economic situation. Obviously, the President does not realize that the American people were waiting to receive confirmation that such hateful acts will never be tolerated.
Republican Senator John McCain stated, “There's no moral equivalency between racists and Americans standing up to defy hate and bigotry. The President of the United States should say so,” highlighting his disappointment regarding President Trump’s response.
Participants of the “Unite the Right” movement made sure their message was heard loudly and clearly after the events in Charlottesville. Christopher Cantwell stated, “A lot more people were going to die,” before white nationalists accomplished their “duty.” These unsettling remarks underscore the dilemma that the president must address.
On August 14th, President Trump held a conference at the White House to reinforce the statements he made two days prior. However, more alarming comments were voiced on Tuesday, August 15th, during another conference at Trump Tower. The president defended his Saturday comments, stating that he had condemned the hate groups that assembled in Charlottesville.
Still, reporters questioned President Trump’s delay in making a statement regarding the condemnation of the violence in Charlottesville. The President replied by stating that his speech was “a fine statement” and he “didn’t wait long” to address the situation. President Trump also added that he “did not want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a political statement. [He wanted] to know the facts.” Americans have to wonder, though, what additional facts did President Trump expect to receive if he stated that he already watched the protests “very closely”?
At Trump Tower, President Trump, once again, cited economic facts when a reporter mentioned that the CEO of Wal-Mart claimed that the president did not do a good job uniting the people with his Saturday statement. Does this reporter’s inquiry ask President Trump to discuss what he supposedly achieved since taking office? No. The question requires the discussion of events in Charlottesville, so there is no basis for the president to boast about his administration. This is no time for President Trump to gloat and exclaim, “I’ve created over a million jobs since I have been President,” and “We are doing record business.”
President Trump’s arrogant remarks were not even consistent. It is clear that the president fails to adhere to his comments when stating, “I believe that the fact that I have brought in, it will be soon, millions of jobs…” deviates from his first statement that he already “created” millions of jobs. Did President Trump “create over a million jobs,” or will he “bring soon a million jobs”? The answer is not clear. The point is President Trump should schedule a separate conference to discuss his “accomplishments.” He should not do so during a state of emergency.
It is time President Trump redirects his attention to a national crisis: hate groups. The president needs to stop revolving critical speeches around his “accomplishments” and give the people what they want—leadership. The hatred that is consuming the American air cannot be halted by claiming that there were “very fine people on both sides” because there were not. There were those who protested for the upholding of the Constitution, which negates racism, and those who disintegrated the beliefs of the Constitution.