The handshake of two different races. Photo By Karsen Cowan.
A rally in Charlottesville, Virginia took a turn for the worse on August 12th after violence followed the start of counter protests. A rally of Neo-Nazis, who are modern day nazis who agree with the destruction of Jews and others who do not fit their image of an ideal person, racists and white supremacists were gathered to protest the removal of a confederate statue. The statue that started this messy riot was the statue of Robert E. Lee, one of the Confederacy’s top generals. There were those who agreed with the removal of the statue and wanted to protest these hateful organizations who came out to counter protest, and that was when things began to turn violent. A man by the name of James Alex Fields Jr. drove his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of counter protesters, injuring 19 people and killing a 32 year old woman by the name of Heather Heyer.
A lot of people were injured, one even killed, but what did our President, Donald J. Trump, have to say about all of this?
“I think there’s blame on both sides,” Trump said, “And I have no doubt about it.”
According to Washington Post News, the president’s comments came after he “condemned” the Ku Klux Klan, neo- Nazis, white supremacists and the other hateful organizations. CNN Politics reported on Donald Trump’s short statement in New Jersey at his golf club, shortly after the Charlottesville attacks: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides, on many sides. It has been going on for a long time in our country -- not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. It has been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America.”
At a hectic press conference located at Trump Tower, a reporter said to Trump, “Senator McCain said that the alt-right is behind these attacks and he linked that same group to those who perpetrated the attack in Charlottesville.” In other words, the Senator was saying that such terror attacks as these were associated with the white supremacists, who were also associated with the attack in Charlottesville. Donald soon responded to reporters, saying, “What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt? What about the fact they came charging with clubs in their hands?”
Donald, what were you saying?
He was implying that those who were originally protesting the statue felt guilty about what they had done. His attempt at political recovery was saying that there was a group on the other side, the nationalist counter protesters, who was very violent, and continued with his neutralism.
Since the violent rally, Trump has been tweeting to display his “neutrality”. On August 12th, Trump tweeted, “What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives. #Charlottesville.” America has known the president to be quick of to call out “terrorism,” but when the fact that these hate groups are, in fact, true terrorists came up, our nation’s president issued a vague statement about the protest because of his “need for facts.”
The FBI states, “Domestic terrorism is the unlawful use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual based and operating entirely within the United States or Puerto Rico without foreign direction committed against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof in furtherance of political or social objectives.” This was an act of terrorism because it was an act of unlawful violence because of both political and social objectives. The protesters in Charlottesville used unnecessary force.
According to CNN, Trump stated on Tuesday, August 12th, “I didn’t wait long. I didn’t wait long. I wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct, not make a quick statement.” Ironic. In all other cases, Trump seems to always be quick to respond, regardless of how he sounds.
Our president, who tried to ban Muslims because he said they were “terrorists” ignores the terrorists among our own people. Many of those who were protesting as a part of a hate group attacked the counter protestors violently because of race and beliefs, yet there have been lengthy delays in condemning these attackers. A 20 year old African-American man, DeAndre Harris, was beaten with wooden sticks and a large board. He sustained a spinal injury and a deep head laceration, both of which will likely affect his quality of life long-term.
Due to the lack of action from the president, many people are disappointed in their president and his response. In fact, people were infuriated at the way he handled the situation. For instance, author J.K. Rowling tweeted, “Hell of a day for the President to forget how to tweet.”
The Charlottesville riot was a very eye opening situation and shook the nation. President Donald Trump has been all over the news due to his lack of reaction on the day of the attack and his few attempts to stop or speak out on it. He continues to hide behind a neutralist facade that has left many civilians angered and upset with his choice of actions. Though both sides are, to a certain extent, at fault, the way that the President addressed the situation, as a whole, was disappointing to many.
The President may see this as a small uprising that will die down, but that’s also what Americans thought decades before the outbreak of the civil war. The citizens of the United States are using this as an enlightening moment to see where we are as a civilization and a society.
This is not the only, or most recent, time the alt-right has tried to stand up and enforce their hateful beliefs into society. On October 7th, another supremacist rally convened after the event in Charlottesville. Citizens were not amused. According to NBC 29, the University of Virginia Office of Communications spoke out against the hateful groups. They stated, “The University of Virginia strongly condemns the actions of Richard Spencer and the other racists and white supremacists who once again gathered in downtown Charlottesville on Saturday night.
Their message of hate and bigotry and their use of torches have one purpose: to further intimidate and divide our community. These forces of hate are not welcome here, and their abhorrent behavior should not be tolerated. The University plans to continue to work aggressively with its law enforcement partners to enforce laws and regulations aimed at protecting members of our community.”
Many supremacist marches have gone on in the month of October. On Saturday, October 25th, there was a “White Lives Matter” movement in Shelbyville, Tennessee that lasted until 1 p.m. The march was fairly peaceful and was very controlled, the UVA isn’t the only one fed up with the bigotry and hatred. White nationalists were pressured to cancel the second rally in Murfreesboro, a neighboring town, after being met with counter protesters and police during the first march.
It seemed like these supremacists are being backed into a corner, and their ego and pride is hurt.
This is the land of the free. You should be free to love whoever you want, but the nationalists didn’t seem get that memo. Is it just me, or does it seem like they only support freedom when it benefits them? On October 28th, only 2 days after being pressured into canceling the rally, Neo-Nazis harassed a woman outside of a restaurant in Brentwood, Tennessee. A 30 year old white woman and a 37 year old black man, who were in a relationship, were peacefully eating in the restaurant when a group of neo-Nazis entered and began to argue with them. According to Newsweek, one of the oppressors was Matthew Heimbach, one of the organizers of the “White Lives Matter” movement. Police told Newsweek that the supremacists were attempting to convince the woman to leave her boyfriend and join their rallies. The woman tried to deescalate the situation and led the group outside but it only got worse. A fight broke out between Heimbach and the woman and she was punched in the face.
It is angering to look at such situations as these. To imagine that these people do horrible things that are way worse than punch women in the face is sickening but truthful. This particular situation started because their pride was hurt after being pressured by a whole town to stop the march, but the issue of white supremacists has been prominent for decades. This is where we’ve changed, or failed to change, as a nation. Bigotry and racism still stand, but those of us fighting for equality can stand stronger if we stand together as a whole. America must rise from the racism, the bigotry, and the hate.