A lot of what I want to say about this, I’ve said before in some form or other, notably regarding free speech and Nazi-punching. But let me give this a shot so I can get this off my chest.
[Sorry it’s tl;dr, but you should have seen it before I whittled it down.]
1. To get the obvious out of the way, the whole thing – the protest, the violence and the terrorist attack – was terrible and awful and probably inevitable, if not predictable.
2. Trump’s trainwreck reaction to Charlottesville (lengthy silence, vague tweet, the “on many sides” speech, more silence, another statement that sounded like his advisers threatened to take away his golf clubs if he didn't read the goddamn thing out loud, the inevitable fake news tweet, the “Alt.Left” improv press conference) has undoubtedly made the situation worse in terms of neo-Nazis, the KKK and other white supremacist/nationalist groups feeling empowered by the notion that the White House has their back.
3. Does that prove Trump is a true-blue Nazi or a white supremacist? Not in the strictest sense – it’s been pointed out that Trump said what he said (vis a vis Charlottesville and previous statements) in no small part because he thinks saying what he should have said would be a victory for the PC SJWs that he loathes so much. He hates the idea of being told by liberals and the media what he should say about issues like this, and he’d rather say what he really thinks and screw ya if you don’t like it, snowflake.
That said, the other issue is that based on everything we’ve heard Trump say over the last few years, it’s fair to assume that he’s sympathetic with the part of the Alt-Right™ that is more focused on white-identity politics and their irrational fear of being erased in the name of political correctness or whatever, and that it’s the black people (especially #BLM and ESPECIALLY Barack Hussein Obama) who are to blame for whatever racism problems might still exist.
4. Here’s where it gets tricky (and controversial) because the Alt-Right™ is – or has been up to now – distinct from the Nazis, KKK et al. I recommend reading these two articles – one about the different groups that comprise the Charlottesville protest, and the other about the White Identity ideology driving it. Yes, it’s all basically racist, but there’s a distinct difference – the Nazis, KKK et al acknowledge they’re racists. The Alt-Right™ people generally don’t. It doesn’t mean they’re not racist – it means they genuinely don’t see why they should be labeled as such simply because they identify themselves as white. “Blacks get to be proud of their racial heritage, why can’t we?” It's the same argument that affirmative action is reverse racism, or it’s so unfair that black people can use the n-word but white people can’t, etc.
It’s certainly not a defense for racism, and I fully understand that the distinction is of little importance to the racial and religious minorities who are the targets of their ire. I’m just saying it’s important to understand the difference if you’re going to label Trump a full-blown Nazi, which is a very serious charge (albeit one that’s been watered down by applying it indiscriminately over the years).
5. However, the plot twist is that, thanks to Charlottesville, the lines separating Nazis and KKKers from the rest of the Alt.Right™ – which were already getting blurry – have been almost completely erased. And the Alt.Right™ only has themselves to blame for that. When actual Nazis and the KKK got involved in the rally, that would have been the time for the Alt.Right™ to walk away and say, “Oh no, we’re not with these guys.” Which they didn’t. That speaks volumes about their priorities and values, even if it was only for the same reason that Trump tried to shift the blame around. Whatever the Alt.Right™ may have thought it was before, they’re honorary Nazis and KKKers now.
6. And arguably the same goes for Trump.
It doesn’t matter that he doesn’t go around repeating Nazi/KKK talking points on TV. Any fool knows what the Nazis and the KKK stand for, both historically and now, and both were large and in charge in Charlottesville. And one of them killed Heather Heyer (an American citizen) on American soil for daring to disagree with them. Literally any other previous post-WW2 POTUS would have understood the sheer gravity of that and the implications therein, and would have gone on national TV denouncing that specific act AND the Nazis and the KKK to show the American People™ that these things are immoral and wrong and contrary to the values of this society, etc. It’s entry level POTUS 101.
Yet Trump couldn’t bring himself to do that. All he could do was try to make it about his (and the Nazi/KKK’s) political enemies instead.
Sure, he may have had reasons unrelated to Nazi/KKK ideology, but he effectively aided and abetted their cause, which encourages them to carry on Nazi-ing. (Just ask David Duke and The Daily Stormer.)
Whether it’s due to his PC/fake news obsessions, his delusional perception of reality, or whatever – and whether he intended it or not – Trump basically positioned himself as a de facto Nazi/KKK sympathizer.
7. Some people will say “Oh, but what about antifa? They’re so violent, they’re just as bad, why don’t you complain about THEM?”
Well, I do complain about the antifa too – I don’t support their tactics. But there’s really no way you can compare the two groups in terms of where they sit on a moral compass. It’s also one of the dumbest and worst arguments in politics – “Hey if you think we’re bad, you should see the Other Guys!” It says a lot when yr response to an issue like this is to make sure yr political opponents get at least half the blame.
8. The big question, of course, is: is this going to be the final straw for Republicans who have backed Trump up to now?
Sadly, I don’t think so.
Leaving aside the fact that GOP policies over the last 25 years enabled Trump’s rise to power (even if they’d rather have had an insider), the problem is that Trump has provided them with sufficient political cover to downplay both Charlotteville and Trump’s response to it – Alt.Left! It’s Obama’s fault! Those Charlottesville Nazis were actually Jewish actors! It’s just another liberal Fake News lie to be countered with Dana Loesch’s Clenched Fist Of Truth In Yr Fucking Libtard Face!
You see the problem.
I think that’s the biggest challenge we face – not just the fact that white supremacy is on the rise and the POTUS supports it (wittingly or otherwise), but that it’s doing so because too many people buy into the alternate reality peddled by Trump and Fox News and the NRA in which they are right and YOU are wrong and anything that doesn’t conform to that worldview is a lie manufactured by the Deep State Liberal Media Axis to take over the country.
Put another way, the big problem isn't that American racism is on the rise (although it is on the rise, yes) but that a decent chunk of the country doesn’t know/believe that it is, and doesn’t know they’re part of the problem – and are inoculated against any attempt to persuade them otherwise.
I honestly don’t know how we get out of this. I take comfort in the fact that these people are a fraction of the population. But it seems that fraction is getting bigger – and one of them controls the White House.
Which is another thing – impeaching Trump won’t fix that. Not overnight, anyway. It's not everyone will suddenly snap out of it and say, “Man, I had the craziest dream …” That batshit reality voter base will remain, and the GOP – who helped to create them and have entertained and exploited them for years in order to attain power – will continue to pander to them.
That’s not an argument against impeaching Trump, mind. It’s just worth remembering the problem is so much bigger than that.
Nazi punks fuck off,
This is dF