When the United States is in the midst of conflict, either internally or with external forces, the president’s actions set an important tone.
President Donald Trump’s response to the violence that took place last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, was nothing short of shameful.
Self-proclaimed neo-Nazis and white supremacists gathered Saturday to protest the planned removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, the Confederacy’s top general. Counter-protesters showed up as well to denounce the hatred spouted by many of the participants and organizers of the “Unite the Right” rally. The violence turned fatal when a car, allegedly driven by rally-goer James Alex Fields Jr., drove into a crowd of pedestrians and killed Heather Heyer.
On Saturday, Trump refused to directly condemn the white supremacist groups, instead issuing a generic plea for unity. After facing intense criticism, he finally spoke out against those groups Monday, only to reverse course Tuesday and again blame “both sides” for their role.
Republican politicians at all levels have rightly criticized the white supremacist groups and their hateful messages. Some have tried to do so without criticizing the president directly, while others have blasted Trump and his response.
The business world has reacted harshly as well, and Trump disbanded both the Manufacturing Council and the Strategy & Policy Forum after a string of resignations.
The widespread pushback is a good sign and shows that people may finally be ready to put the good of the country ahead of political ties.
But this tension is not going away. Emboldened by Trump, white supremacy groups are planning more rallies across the country in the coming weeks. It is up to everybody to oppose them and their hatred.
People who could comfortably avoid discussions or protests about racism because it doesn’t directly affect them need to choose to become uncomfortable and get involved. Only with a united voice of disapproval from an overwhelming majority can we make sure these evil ideas do not flourish to further taint our country.