Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The President and the Nazis

I know some people who voted for Trump. They aren't bad people, but their candidate is. I've been having discussions with some of them lately, and I'm pretty shocked by some of their answers. The white supremacist/ KKK/ nazi rally got a lot of coverage. We've seen the tiki torch marchers chanting, "blood and soil," and, "Jews will not replace us."

It was the President's job to condemn nazis, white supremacists and KKK right then and there. Instead, he spoke of how there was blame "on many sides." I don't know much about Antifa, though I heard a lot about them after this. I do know that it's short for "anti-fascist." I'm certainly anti-fascist. Then I hear accusations about people from Black Lives Matter who did this or that.

There are always people in groups who do stupid things. I'm a teacher, and I'm not going to sit here and insist that we are all perfect. I think we're unfairly stereotyped, and that a lot of things we do are blown out of proportion. But of course I'm not perfect, no one is, and there are people in our group who do things of which I would not approve. It's the nature of a group, of human nature, to be precise.

It's very different, though, when the professed purpose of a group is to hurt, kill or destroy other people. It's very different when such beliefs are the basis of the group. When that's the case, you do indeed condemn the entire group. It was the job of President Donald Trump to get up there and say nazis, white supremacists, and KKK are intolerable. They go against everything our country is supposed to be built upon.

Instead, he got up and spoke nonsense about "many sides." He then got roped into saying the right thing, but moved back. Why? Because the racists constitute his base. These are the people who will vote for him no matter what lies he tells, and no matter what atrocities he enables. He just pardoned a sheriff who boasted of running a concentration camp. I'm pretty sure he's sewn up the KKK vote for 2020 already.

I don't know what the defense is for acts like that. Ones I hear are, "What about these people over here who did this thing?" Well, what about them? If the thing they did was wrong, it was wrong. If it was stupid or hurtful, that's what it was. But you don't defend Donald Trump's moral equivalence like that, because individuals who do stupid, destructive, or racist things are simply not equal to groups whose professed purpose is to do those things.

Then we hear about the statues, another diversion. They say look, in Germany they kept the concentration camps up so people could remember. Then they equate that with the confederate statues. But it's completely different. While the camp buildings stand, they stand to warn against past atrocities. I've been to Germany, and you don't see statues to commemorate Hitler and Goebbels. You don't see nazis portrayed as heroes in public squares.

And please, spare me the nonsense about how the nazis live in their mothers' basements, about how they are disenfranchised and out of touch. Stop telling me how stupid they are, because that's not what this is about. That's the same thing they said about the growing nazi movement in Germany in the last century. I don't know if those nazis walked around with guns, but these do. And in case it's escaped your attention, one of them just plowed through a crowd and killed somebody. If he lived in his mom's basement, that doesn't mitigate what he did. 

We know the history of the nazis. We know the history of the KKK. We know the history of white supremacy. Calling them "alt-right" doesn't change what they are. If Donald Trump doesn't know what the name means, and doesn't know history, that's the best argument in his defense. However, that's also an argument that renders him incompetent for his present position. Sadly, there are many others.

If we're gonna be the land of the free and the home of the brave, we need a leader to condemn this unequivocally. And that sure as hell is not Donald J. Trump.
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