By APD Writer Lu Jiafei
For those already accustomed to Donald Trump’s braggadocio and impulsive generosity in sharing opinions, his reluctance and caution on Saturday while addressing the deadly conflict at a white nationalist rally in Virginia seemed almost surreal.
Seven months into his presidency, Trump again found himself facing a crisis of his own making that threatens to tear the country apart. This time, however, the commander-in-chief infamously known for his unchecked logorrhea chose to stay muted.
Chanting neo-Nazi slogans, white nationalists on Saturday gathered in Charlottesville, a Virginia college town, in what was believed to be the largest white nationalist rally in a decade.
Before the so-called “Unite the Right” rally took place at noon, however, counter protestors clashed with white nationalists, prompting Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe to declare a state of emergency and the rally was declared by police as unlawful.
Then, as the white nationalists and counter protestors began to disperse, a car plowed into those protesting the racism, killing one and hurting at least 19.
A consensus was soon reached across the aisle that the pro-white rally, which had attracted members of neo-Nazi groups, racist skinhead groups as well as regional Ku Klux Klan groups, was about “vile bigotry” and “repugnant views,” as denounced by House Speaker Paul Ryan, and some Republican lawmakers went even further to single out the alt-right ideology of the marchers, calling them “white supremacists” conducting “domestic terrorism.”
After remaining silent for most of the morning, Trump tweeted a Twitter post in which he meekly encouraged inclusiveness and then in the afternoon, he emerged in front of the millions of national TV viewers, scrambling to portray the violence as a bipartisan malaise “going on for a long time in our country” and condemning violence “on many sides” with nil mention of the ideology of the marchers.
For a man full of vitriol and with a strong penchant for name calling, Trump’s reservations about “call(ing) evil by its name” when it comes to white supremacists, as urged by Republican Senator Cory Gardner, came after a troubling history of tightly interwoven ties with the country’s white supremacist movement and appeared to reflect his reluctance to alienate fringe white nationalist supporters.
There is no need to revive his venomous language against Lations, immigrants, African-Americans and women on the campaign trail, and for the most time in 2016, Trump struggled to disavow Ku Klux Klan and its former leader David Duke.
For white supremacists, a Trump presidency represents “a wonderful opportunity... that may never come again,” as reportedly claimed by Rocky Suhayda, the chairman of the American Nazi Party last year.
Before the white nationalist rally began on Saturday, Duke told reporters that the white nationalist “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,” said Duke.
Despite Trump’s failure to single out the ideology behind Saturday’s rally, his generic condemnation still infuriated Duke, who tweeted that Trump should “take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency.”
According to the local media reports, during the confrontation before the white nationalist rally ever started, counter protestors chanted “No Trump! No KKK! No fascist USA!” towards white nationalists.
“Too late, f-----s!” a man yelled back.
By winning a presidency on a racially charged platform, Trump has opened a Pandora’s Box. He needs to shut it close now before it’s too late.
Lu Jiafei, researcher of APD institute. After spending one year in Palestine covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict between 2013 and 2014, Jiafei Lu moved to Washington, D.C. in 2015 and started covering the U.S. presidential election till the very end of Donald Trump's upset victory early November, 2016. He is a political contributor to APD.
(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)
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