Eat, drink and be merry. A simple enough concept that would work in an ideal world, or as a Saturday Night Live skit. The events that happened in Charlottesville, VA have shown that the world is far from ideal.
On August 12th, white supremacists, the Klu Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, the alt-right–or whatever said race-based hate groups wish to deem themselves–gathered and marched through Charlottesville under the guise of protesting the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue.
The groups were seen chanting various slogans reminiscent of Nazi-Germany and the supremacy of the white race, along with some participants donning militia wear, weapons, and tiki torches.
Violence erupted when a vehicle drove into a group of counter-demonstrators, resulting in the loss of Heather Heyer’s, a 32 year old from Charlottesville, life. Heyer was a counter-demonstrator who was known to speak out against injustices.
Various political and social groups clashed over how to handle the growing alt-right movement and their upcoming rallies. The opinions range from the far-leftist group Antifa’s willingness to employ circumstantial violence, to Tina Fey’s sheet cake therapy.
Whilst taking out her frustrations over Charlottesville, Trump, and the general state of the country on a slab of sheet cake, Tina Fey proposed her take on the upcoming alt-right rallies during an episode of Saturday Night Live.
“I really want to say, to encourage all good, sane Americans, to treat these rallies, this weekend, like the opening of a thoughtful movie with two female leads: Don’t show up. Let these morons scream into the empty air.”
In tumultuous times like these, US citizens look to the president for guidance, for comfort, for a standard. President Trump has failed. And because he has failed, it is up to the constituents to set that moral standard, and inaction is the last thing that should be done in the wake of the alt-right movement.
The office of presidency acts as a moral compass, and it stands to reason that its office holder should be a person of reputable character.
It also stands to reason that it should not be hard for a person of reputable character to state that a human being’s worth is not dependant on their skin color. That one man is not superior over another. That the president believes certain truths to be, “self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
President Trump has failed to act as a moral compass due to his inability to provide a coherent message that denounces white supremacy and all that the alt-right stands for.
Instead, President Trump, in an interview initially on Infrastructure, went from vaguely condemning the ““[…] egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence,” to stating that, “There’s blame on both sides,” while correlating Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson to George Washington, and placing Heather Heyer and her killer on the same moral plane.
President Trump’s actions not only affirmed the alt-right movement and garnered praise from David Duke, a former grand wizard of the KKK on Twitter,
“Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa.”
President Trump also demolished any notion that he was capable of unification; parties from both sides of the isle spoke out against his remarks, Heather Heyer’s mother refused to take his calls, and Trump’s business advisory council disbands– all due to his handling of Charlottesville.
Heather Heyer’s death is a tragedy. But promoting inaction, to just essentially ignore the upcoming alt-right rallies only further aids their cause.
Progress was never a peaceful matter. From the Silent Parade that resulted in the death of 40 black people by a white mob in 1917, to Ferguson’s unrest in 2014, it would be a disgrace to the lives lost fighting for social and legal equality to regress back into a time where the promotion of injustice is sanctioned rather than condemned.
Ideally, protesting and counter-protesting injustices should be peaceful, but the world is not an ideal world and even peaceful protesting can turn violent.
Nevertheless, in the face of such hate and violence enacted against the innocent, it is the citizen’s duty to succeed where the President has failed. The belief in basic human equality for all persons, regardless of skin color, surpasses any party line.
Without a leader who can champion that belief, it is up to the constituents to serve as that moral compass, to be unified under the common belief that racial superiority is a myth, that white supremacy is an injustice, and that all human beings have and deserve unalienable rights.