If you are as yet unaware of the emergency state of affairs in Charlottesville, VA, in the USA, we urge you to educate yourself. Alt-right and white supremacist groups processed through the town, reportedly in protest against the proposed taking down of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. Carrying Nazi flags, executing Nazi salutes, shouting “Sieg Heil,” the “peaceful protest” – though many protestors were heavily armed – could be more accurately described as a neo-Nazi rally. They marched carrying tiki torches, chanting “they will not replace us”
While this sight alone is enough to make blood run cold, there were casualties of the violent clashes between these protestors and the counter-protestors who had gathered in opposition. 32-year-old Heather Heyer was killed and dozens were injured when a car ploughed into an anti-fascist protest block in Charlottesville. Others were violently assaulted by white supremacists.
But what is most horrifying of all is the response of Donald Trump, President of the United States. After initially making comments on Saturday that there was blame “on both sides,” Trump confirmed this view at a press conference yesterday. Arguing that the “alt-left… came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right,” he claimed that counter-protestors were “swinging clubs,” and, as a “very violent group” without a permit to protest, had no right to be there.
Following a weak condemnation of the actions of neo-Nazi protestors in Charlottesville, Trump ultimately confirmed his original comments, stating “I think there’s blame on both sides… And I have no doubt about it, and you don’t have any doubt about it either.” He also said that there were “very fine people” on both sides of the protest – placing neo-Nazi protestors on the same plane as anti-fascist counterparts who were beaten up and even killed.
While Trump’s response to the events of the last few days is unfortunately unsurprising half a year after his inauguration, Barack Obama’s was as predictably wise and thoughtful as the current POTUS’ was ugly and apologist. In a series of tweets, Obama quoted Nelson Mandela, stating “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” Now one of the most-liked tweets of all time, these sentiments just reinforce for us the terrifying reality of Trump’s presidency, while also serving as a vital reminder of the importance of tolerance.
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion…” pic.twitter.com/InZ58zkoAm
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) 13 August 2017
Featured image via Instagram.