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"We must remember this truth: No matter our color, creed, religion or political party, we are ALL AMERICANS FIRST."
These words, from President Donald J. Trump, were tweeted in the wake of the tragedy that continues to unfold in Charlottesville, Virginia. What the president fails to recognize — and continues to fail to see — is that he is encouraging, on an ongoing basis, the hatred that's happening and continues to happen across the nation.
For those currently unfamiliar with what's happened, Reuters reported that white nationalists were on hand in Charlottesville, protesting the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Counter-protesters arrived and soon after, various skirmishes broke out between the two groups.
Before long, police in riot gear were on hand to try and break up the melee.
Then, a car plowed through the crowd of protesters in an act that appears to be "absolutely intentional." One young woman died as a result, with several others going to hospital with a range of injuries.
Officials in Charlottesville had initially approved the protest, but when things turned violent, they cancelled the event and then violence broke out. A state of emergency in the area was declared soon after.
It is President Trump's comments in the wake of the violence that seem almost farcical, though. This is a president that has called for the banning of transgender individuals in the military; that has, by removing the provisions under Title IX, effectively eliminated the protection for transgender youth in schools; that has raised more borders between nations by calling for the construction of walls and the elimination of immigrants from the United States.
The hate that he is condemning as "egregious" is effectively of his own design, yet he fails to see that he is creating so much of it.
Reuters has suggested that perhaps the banner of white nationalism has been waved more prominently as the alt-right has increased its visibility over the years. A reporter in attendance at Trump's press conference held at the president's New Jersey golf course asked if the president felt he had spoken out strongly enough against the white nationalists, but the president had no comment.
Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke initially said that the rally "fulfilled Trump's promises" but bristled when the president later condemned the violence.
"This represents a turning point for the people of this country," Duke said. "We are determined to take our country back, we are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back. That’s what we gotta do."
Trump was resoundingly bashed following his comments, beginning with the ex-Imperial Wizard.
"So, after decades of White Americans being targeted for discriminated & anti-White hatred, we come together as a people, and you attack us?" Duke tweeted. His next tweet seemed to suggest that Trump was more familiar with Duke than he'd previously indicated during the presidential campaign. "I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists."
Mike Signer, Charlottesville mayor, also took to Twitter to condemn Trump's delayed speech against the violence. "@realDonaldTrump, thanks, at long last, for condemning hate in speech and action," Signer said, going on to suggest that Trump needs to step up to speak out against hate and violence. "Our work here is just beginning. Yours is too."
In addition, celebrities J.K. Rowling, Rob Reiner and Chelsea Clinton, among others, condemned Trump's lengthy silence about the protests in Charlottesville. Where the state of emergency was declared in the early part of the day, and First Lady Melania Trump tweeted a message condemning the tragedy, the president waited a minimum of an hour before tweeting any sort of comment about it, with his press conference occurring roughly two hours after that.
One can only hope that, in the wake of such violence in the name of hate, that President Trump can finally take a look at what he is not doing and try to steer the United States back away from the growing hatred and prejudice that he has encouraged.