he number thirteen is generally seen by large sections of the populace as being unlucky. And so it came to be in the town of Charlottesville, Virginia in the US. On Saturday, August 13, large numbers of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, anti-Semitists and other similar lunatic fringe groups (far right extremists) gathered to protest the taking down of statues of Confederate General Robert E. Lee (the general commanding pro-slavery forces during the American civil war) and to ‘take America back’. Meant to be a show of force of the right wing, many of the protesters bore fire arms.
The demonstration, seen widely as being against basic American values, led to counter-protesters gathering in opposition to the blatant show of racism. Angered by the counter-protesters and to instil terror in anyone opposed to their ‘principles’, a neo-Nazi activist drove a truck into the counter-protesters sending them flying in all directions, killing one and injuring large numbers of others.
In a moment, America was once again divided along the lines of race, colour, and religion. It was a moment requiring the President of the United States to speak for the nation in trauma. The need was to uphold the country’s gut values and to heal the nations wounded soul. Sadly US president Trump was found wanting and unable to salve the soul of the American people by condemning a terrorist act. Instead he attempted to equate anger shown by peaceful counter-protesters to terrorism unleashed by the far right protesters.
A day later, the under-pressure US President condemned white supremacists’ views saying it had no place in the US. But the next day, the President churlishly went back on his statement, saying there were many good people among the far right groups, implicitly lending his support to the far right rally which openly displayed Nazi Swastikas; Nazi salutes and chanted anti-Semitic slogans.
When a truck driven by a Muslim individual ploughed into a crowded street in Paris killing and injuring by-standers on Bastille Day, President Trump was among the first to condemn it as an act of terrorism and call for stern action against Islamic terrorists. Similarly when an Islamist militant ploughed a car into a crowd in London, Trump condemned it as an Islamist terror attack even before the British police called it so. But in his own backyard, the US President has failed to call out the white supremacists or condemn the act as one of terrorism. Unfortunately he even sided with the attackers against the removal of statues to pro-slavery advocates
Michael Gerson wrote in the Washington Post, “It falls to the president to express something of the nation’s soul.” Yet if Donald Trump’s words about the violent white extremist mobilisation in Virginia on Saturday – which an under-pressure White House was desperately trying to clarify on Sunday – are an expression of its soul, America may be on the road to perdition…”
What ails the US president? Why the double standards? It appears the US President, is more annoyed with media fallout, than with the hate-inspired actions of white supremacists who helped bring him to power.
This is a sad commentary on US politics, yet in its own way it bears the US soul. The US Constitution of 1787 was inherently racist, it accepts slavery and gave no rights to native Americans. Even after the US civil war segregation of black Americans continued for over a century. Britain’s the Guardian points out that that Adolf Hitler in his ‘Mein Kampf’ praised America’s institutionalized racism as a model from which Nazi Germany could learn.
But during the recent past it appeared the US had put its dark history behind itself. Equal rights have been enshrined and Americans even elected its first black president.
It was hard to imagine, given US history in the recent past, any US president would refuse to condemn the terrorism unleashed in Charlottesville by Neo Nazis and white supremacists. These people hate people of nether colour, people of somatic descent and regard whites as superior. Unfortunately the inherent and deep-rooted US racism is showing up in the present incumbent of the White House and US society at large.
After all, it was the ordinary American people who overwhelmingly voted Trump into power and he made no effort to hide his views from the US voting public. The events at Charlottesville and the actions of its president, give lie to the US claim of championing democracy, equality and human rights. It is merely a façade to promote US meddling in affairs of countries whose interests do not align with American interests.