I wondered how to respond to Michael Eric Dyson’s New York Times op-ed column demanding that every decent white American actively speak out against the scourge of bigotry. Is yet another Facebook post or Twitter tweet an adequate reply to Charlottesville’s ugliness? To the shame of seeing rage manifest itself the following day on Seattle’s streets?
Tuesday’s performance by our president answered that question for me. Evidently he equates several of our founding fathers — who did own slaves — with military men who fought to divide our country and preserve that most fundamentally abhorrent institution. He overlooks the fact that neither Washington nor Jefferson took up arms against their own nation.
Mr. Trump can also divine the motives of protesters in Charlottesville simply by watching them on television. As a result, he is able to state that both “sides” had some fine, innocent participants as well as evil actors. That’s a talent none of us mere mortals possess, but holding torches, waving Confederate and Nazi flags, carrying bats and chanting slogans that demean non-whites do not signal virtuous intent.
We’re told the alt right plans more rallies in the weeks ahead, so the appalling carnage will continue. What need not endure is our silence in the face of it.