The original of this post that was put up on August 13th, has been slightly edited, taking into account the President's remarks on Monday, August 14th.
Reflecting on the tragic occurrences in Charlottesville, Virginia, yesterday and listening to the various news commentaries, it is that quote from Hamlet that has quickly come to mind. Not that hatred, bigotry and racism are new to our Republic. Sadly, the roots of these malignancies go back to the very foundation of our Nation. Rather, what happened as a result of a White Supremacist, Neo-Nazi, Alt-Right demonstration and the tragic deaths that ensued, point decidedly and unambiguously to the climate that has been engendered and enabled in our land during our last Presidential campaign and the eventual election of President Trump.
I, like many of you, were appalled by the tenor of the recent campaign. From the initial race-baiting and name calling of immigrants as ‘rapists’ to the total lack of any semblance of civility in the debates that followed. Politics, of course, is a rough and tumble ‘sport,’ yet, this recent campaign reached new lows primarily because of the example set by Donald Trump. His core constituencies reveled in his insouciant lack of ‘political correctness.’ He prided himself in telling it like it is – ‘knock the crap out of ‘em,’ ‘lock her up,’ ‘lyin Ted,’ ‘little Marco,’ ‘could you imagine that face as President?’ and on and on. With the release of the Access Hollywood tape, one would have thought that the jig was finally up. But, no. His core blithely forgave this ‘locker room banter’ and quickly moved on. They loved the fact that ‘he told it like it is!’
There was something terribly dark and sinister in this political ‘candor’ when it came to his ongoing campaign to delegitimize the Presidency of Barack Obama by questioning his credentials as a citizen of our Country. This pernicious lie, repeated time and time again with varying degrees of promised substantiation, was a not so subtle dog whistle that pointed unambiguously to the racism that motivated it. Sadly, a solid percentage of his base lapped it up – not all, of course, but surely enough for whom the thought of an African American President was anathema.
Fast forward to Charlottesville. What did we hear from the ‘tell-it-like-it-is President?’ We heard a statement decrying the violence ‘on many sides!’ On many sides! For a man who crucified Obama and his political opponents for equivocating and use of circumlocutions around ‘Islamic terrorists,’ we heard nary the mention of the words, ‘White-Supremacists,’ ‘Neo-Nazi’ or ‘Alt-Right.’ With swastika emblazoned flags waving – not one scintilla of a reference to these hate groups that are fracturing our Country with their vicious message.
With the unprecedented criticism that the President received in the wake of his equivocation, he subsequently delivered a more comprehensive condemnation of the violence that occurred in Charlottesville, on Saturday, the 12th of August. In his comments on Monday, the 14th of August, he explicitly mentioned the white nationalists groups by name for condemnation. While it was uncharacteristically refreshing for the President to implicitly acknowledge his 'mistake' on Saturday, I continue to wonder the motivation behind this 'corrective.' Was it moral outrage or merely political expediency? I have my profound doubts.
And so, there is indeed, ‘something rotten in the State of Denmark’ and sadly Denmark has encamped on our own soil, in the People’s House.