You would think that in the year 2017, cases of white supremacy and extreme racism would be few and far between. However, after the violent-filled clashes on Saturday in Charlottesville, it seems this is not the case. A white supremacist rally, organized by Jason Keller, a member an ultra-nationalistic group, organized a ‘unite the white’ rally.
The rally was organized in opposition to the removal of a statue of the confederate army general – General Lee. It was predicted to be one of the largest gatherings of white nationalists of the past decade and was expected to attract group like the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi movements. And that it did. With all the racism and intolerance in the air, it is hardly a surprise that things very quickly became vile and violent when hundreds of marchers made their way to the University of Virginia carrying torches and yelling remarks such as ‘White lives matter’, ‘blood and soil’ ‘you will not replace us’ and other Nazi slogans.
But things took an even more horrific turn as clashed between the nationalists and counter protesters grew, one man, yet to be identified, plowed his car into a crowd of the counterdemonstrators, hurling people in the air and ultimately killing two people. “It was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my life” was what a witness, Robert Armengol had to say about the car ramming. “After that was pandemonium. The car hit reverse and sped and everybody who was up the streets in my direction started running”.
A Feeble Trump
However, since these horrific incidents at the march, spotlight has slightly shifted from the event itself, to the president’s response to the tragic happenings. On Saturday afternoon when president Trump condemned the event, many noticed that while he did condemn the bloody protest, he did not specifically criticize the white nationalist rally nor its neo-Nazi slogans. Rather he blamed “hatred. bigotry and violence on many sides”.
It seems Trump forgot to criticize the inherent racism coming from one specific side of the rally, the white nationalist side, and rather shifted the blame on some invisible enemy causing hatred between Americans. Amongst those who criticized Trump’s rather ambivalent stand on the violence is Sen. Marco Rubio who said it is “very important” for the country to hear Trump “describe events in Charlottesville for what they are, a terror attack by white supremacists.”.
Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe also took a far more direct approach when addressing the situation stating, “I have a message to all the white supremacists and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today,” McAuliffe said in a Saturday evening news conference. “Go home. You are not wanted in this great commonwealth. Shame on you.” With these two depressing happenings over the weekend – a horribly violent and racist march, and a president who does not openly criticize racism in his own country, it is hard to feel confident about the future on a day like today.