The Presidency is a tough job, probably the toughest in the world. But arguably the easiest part of that difficult job would be to distance yourself and condemn by name white supremacy and Neo-Nazis. Especially when they have used ISIS-like tactic to commit domestic terrorism.
Apparently not that easy of a task for President Trump. In fact, President Trump did some pretty masterful verbal gymnastics to appear to condemn hate and violence while simultaneously sending an encouraging dog whistle to these very groups who are not mollified, but emboldened by his statement. You can bet your ass it would have been dramatically different if this many was black, brown or a muslim.
But I personally am sick of the twin refrains “This isn’t America!” and “Why isn’t the President responding more overtly?”
I’ll speak to the latter first. People genuinely surprised by the President’s lack of genuine response are forgetting their history. America First was popular early in the 20th century and fueled pro-Nazi feelings and nationalism in the country before World War 2. President Trump ran on a playbook that drew line and verse from this playbook. Speaking about America First, thumping his chest to the name of Nationalism and preaching isolation, then candidate Trump ginned up support and began to lay the groundwork for the reemergence of the alt-right and Neo-Nazi movements in the United States. In this campaign, these groups became an energized part of the Republican base. In many cases, Republicans afraid of distancing themselves from Trump because the base is popular with him are afraid of these very groups. It was personally heartening to hear many Republican politicians speak out and name the white supremacists and Neo-Nazis, but there will need to be more introspection going forward as these groups have latched themselves to the Republican base and will need to be excised for the safety of the country.
But to get to the other refrain, “This isn’t America”. Obviously it is. This has always been who we are. Constantly grappling with racism. America’s Original Sin has reared its ugly head since the signing of the Constitution and continues to manifest itself. White nationalism was the reason we fought a war! It was the reason that we nearly were cleaved in two. Nazism is simply the most recent incarnation. This has everything to do with the fears of many White Americans that they are demographically declining. We can potentially agree that this isn’t the America we want to live in or leave to our children and grandchildren, but let’s not pretend that this isn’t who we are at the moment.
So, what do we do? Well, this part is primarily for White folks, since the problem is in our community. We can’t pretend that this isn’t uniquely our community’s problem. First, condemn in the strongest terms the actions of these groups. Not just to today, but every damn time it happens. Second, call out rhetoric and behavior or friends and family that supports or attempts to justify these actions. Third, get involved somewhere. Find a place to learn from people of other faiths, racial or ethnic groups or are different from you in any way. The more you expose yourself to these people, the more you will see all that you have in common and the more you will learn about yourself. Fourth, support a group that fights racism in some way.
Getting involved is the only way to make sure that this nonsense, this white supremacy and Nazism must be quashed.