We were waiting for Trump’s response to Charlottesville. Charlottesville, where neo-nazis were openly beating people and one drove into a crowd of counter-protestors in what seems to be an act of domestic terrorist. Where white supremacists were out in droves. Where messages of hate, violence, and bigotry were spewed onto signs and spat out with venom. And what did Trump have to say about it? “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides,” Trump said in his speech, when his response finally came. “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.”
“On many sides, on many sides.” Like an anti-hate counter protest is the same as white supremacists driving a car into a crowd. That was Trump’s response. It’s not good enough.
And people noticed. Later that day, a reporter asked, “Mr. President, do you want the support of these white nationalist groups who say they support you? Have you denounced them strongly enough?”. His response? He walked away. The President of the United States wouldn’t even address the question the millions were asking. People around the country and the world are worried about Trump’s tacit acceptance of white supremacists and nationalist groups. But he doesn’t care. He can’t even be bothered to deny it.
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) August 12, 2017
Trump has a responsibility to address these accusations and questions. Not just because the events happened on US soil. Not just because he’s the President. And not even just because they were unspeakable acts of hate that warrant admonishment. It’s because these hate-mongerers and racists are invoking Trump’s name. Because they’re not only referencing him and endorsing him, they’re holding him up as a symbol. David Duke, the former head of the KKK, has said “We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump.” Neo-nazis were reportedly saying “Heil Trump” yesterday. They feel like Trump is like-minded, like he is a kindred spirit. The very least Trump owes us is to tell us that he does not agree with that invocation. To say he is offended and appalled. That’s the very least we deserve— and we’re not getting it.
The President has failed us, yet again. Trump’s response was simply not good enough. He need to engage with the fact that his presence emboldens the far-right, he needs to disavow the racists and supremacists. But he’s failing us. And the victims of yesterday, the targets of hate, deserve so much more.