By Shivani Gosai | Opinions Editor
On Saturday, a rally by the name of “Unite the Right” was held by hundreds of white nationalists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia. By that evening, one protester and two police officers had died, and 20 others were badly injured after a car driven by a white supremacist deliberately ran into a crowd of counter-protesters.
I can honestly say that in my lifetime, I never thought I’d have to see something like this occur. But the reality is that it’s 2017, and we still have to stand up against white nationalists and their racist ideals.
In the midst of all the chaos, we as a country need leaders we can look up to. We need people who can show us that they are willing to fight against bigotry and hate alongside us.
The fact is, President Donald Trump took two days to condemn the blatant racism. He was given what was probably the easiest opportunity to denounce white supremacists, only to describe the matter as an “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”
To put the blame on any side other than these alt-right, torch-wielding extremists is dangerous and absurd. There’s a reason these hundreds of white nationalists are no longer hiding behind computer screens or white hoods. It’s because they feel protected under Trump’s regime. He has created an environment where these people no longer feel the need to hide their beliefs but instead believe it’s their right to spew hatred.
What other side was there to blame? The side that was fighting for the protection of people of all colors and orientations? Or the side that was chanting the Nazi phrase “blood and soil” while carrying Nazi paraphernalia?
White nationalists themselves took Trump’s silence as a form of encouragement. Andrew Anglin, the creator of the Nazi site The Daily Stormer, said on the site, “He didn’t attack us. (He) implied that there was hate … on both sides. So he implied the antifa are haters. There was virtually no counter-signaling of us all.”
After outrage from the public – meaning anyone with compassion and a brain – for his silence, Trump finally mustered up a bleak statement condemning the hate groups:
“Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including KKK, Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, and other hate groups are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
To be honest, the statement was two days too late, and his previous silence had already given the alt-right groups a rhetorical victory. Trump can’t bring himself to condemn murder or use the words “domestic terrorism” because doing so would scare away his supporters – the exact ones who committed it.
Whatever condemnation Trump had given to the hate groups is utterly useless and hollow, as he has walked back on it by, once again, putting the blame on the Nazi-protesters during a press conference on Tuesday. Trump defended the alt-right by saying they were “innocently protesting very quietly the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee,” which makes sense if your definition of “innocent protesting” is delivering Nazi salutes and shouting Nazi slogans.
While not all of Trump’s supporters are white nationalists or alt-righters, those who did vote for him need to take a hard look at how clearly this hate has grown and become more visible since he took office. That is something no one can deny.
The tragedy in Charlottesville is a harsh reality check for us all. Trump’s pathetic excuse for a passionate statement against racism was completely futile. We deserve better, but inspiration and hope is something we will seldom receive from someone with such heartless character.
This terrorist attack was not at the hands of Muslims, the one group Trump constantly berates at any chance, but instead was committed by a group right under his nose. This hate has always existed in America; it has just been waiting for the right opportunity to emerge.