By David Mark Greaves
In the face of constant criticism, President Donald Trump stood unafraid, staunchly defending his base with his silence, waiting two days to grudgingly read his script in the same manner as when he had to admit Barack Obama was born stateside. They were words that had to be mouthed to satisfy civil expectations and his heart had nothing to do with it.
In a press conference Tuesday, the president could no longer contain himself and defended (in words) the actions of the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville, Virginia with torches on Friday, and with helmets, shields and sticks on Saturday. And with their anger stoked and emboldened by their numbers, they reverted to form and became the violent and frenzied hate-filled mobs of not so long ago.
When they cried, “The South will rise again”, the South was a metaphor for white supremacy, and like a disease that has been in intermittent remission, they are risen. And now when the nation needs leadership after the terror attack by neo-Nazi’s, Ku Klux Klanners and other white supremacists, the world looks to the White House for moral authority, but it is home to an amoral man who believes what he sees on Fox News.
Seeing masses of white Americans at the front lines in 2017 fighting against white supremacy as their abolitionist forebears had fought against slavery in the 1800s and the Civil Rights era is encouraging. And those who they’re fighting now are the grandchildren and great-grandchildren, in fact and in spirit, of the excited attendees who joined thousands at the public lynchings of Black people as in 1936 in Owensboro, Kentucky; 15-20,000 attending.
Excepting for the president, decrying the overt white supremacists and neo-Nazis is an easy and necessary call to make. But as we move away from this example of one end of the continuum of racial justice, where do people stand? Where are they on a criminal justice created to lock up African-Americans? Where are they on voter suppression and equality in the workforce? Where are they on understanding that the violent hatred and anger of last Friday and Saturday were only the tiniest example of the terror African-Americans endured daily for 250 years?
Imagine dealing with that crowd outside your home with no legal recourse for over 350 years. Imagine having them watch you sweat while you build their country and how it plays with your head as you adapt and survive. These are sins that linger to this day.
And then there are the impressionable young people who key into the worst of human nature, and I doubt trying to change them with love is going to work over the short term. Only the law and public outcry stopped the lynchings, and it will be the actions of the Justice Department and the uprising against the white supremacists that will determine the direction of the country with all the surreal uncertainty that implies.
We are living in a country where a Nazi sympathizer is President of the United States, and that is something that cannot stand. The country cannot endure three and a half more years of this.