In March, during the string of weekly threatening phone calls to Jewish Community Centers, synagogues, and other Jewish organizations, which we now know was largely conducted by a mentally ill Israeli, and several acts of desecration at Jewish cemeteries in different parts of the US, which are still unsolved, I wrote that the President’s response was:
insufficient because the only significant change over the past several months is the election and inauguration of the President. There hasn’t been a spike in unemployment. The stock market hasn’t crashed. There hasn’t been a major national disaster with effects that could possibly be correlated with these incidents. There hasn’t been a foreign inspired/orchestrated attack on Americans within the US. The US and its coalition partners are winning the fight against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Every possible indicator we would even conceivably consider as an explanatory variable to explain the increase in hate crimes, stochastic violence, and to be very precise in the terminology, domestic terrorism* is the election and the inauguration.
Now I want to be very, very, very, very clear: I am not accusing the President of being an anti-Semite. Or a racist. Or anti-Muslim. Or a bigot of any kind. And that’s why the letter signed by all 100 Senators and Sean Spicer’s statements are insufficient. It is insufficient because it doesn’t matter at all whether the President or anyone who works for him and with him are any of these things. The leadership and much of the membership of the variousKlan, neo-NAZI, white supremacist, white nationalist, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim (Islamophobic), anti-immigrant (legal and/or undocumented) groups and organizations have all come out in support of the President and his agenda. Many of them, both leaders and members, have stated that the President’s message speaks directly to them. That he has been the biggest boon to their recruiting and activities in decades. That what he says and what he is proposing doing/is doing is what they both think needs to be done and what they want to see done in the US.
It is this sad, unfortunate reality that makes the official Senatorial and Administration responses insufficient. A sufficient response would include the President giving a prime time address denouncing all of the increase in hate crimes, stochastic violence, and low level domestic terrorism* directed at American religious and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ Americans, immigrants, and visitors to America in no uncertain terms. Additionally he should make it clear in such an address that these types of activities are un-American and are intolerable to Americans of good conscience regardless of political party affiliation, ideology, religion, and ethnicity. Finally, he should create a Federal Law Enforcement Task Force to investigate and prosecute the sharp increase in hate crimes, stochastic violence, and low level domestic terrorism since his election and inauguration. This would be sufficient. Every other response is simply fluff.
Both the President’s response to the act of domestic terrorism in Charlottesville yesterday and its larger context, as well as those of unnamed members of his White House staff are not just insufficient. Rather they clearly demonstrate the moral degeneracy of the President and many of his administration’s senior officials.
The President’s response yesterday, as well as those from both unnamed and named officials, demonstrate that as we approach the seven month point of this administration it is clear that the President himself is not just, to paraphrase, a cancer on the presidency. Rather he is now the arch example of the moral decay into white nationalist reactionism and revanchism in America in 2017.
Here is the President’s response yesterday:
— CBS News (@CBSNews) August 12, 2017
Above all else, we must remember this truth: No matter our color, creed, religion or political party, we are all Americans first. We love our country. We love our God. We love our flag. We’re proud of our country. We’re proud of who we are. So we want to get the situation straightened out in Charlottesville, and we want to study it. And we want to see what we’re doing wrong as a country, where things like this can happen.My administration is restoring the sacred bonds of loyalty between this nation and its citizens, but our citizens must also restore the bonds of trust and loyalty between one another. We must love each other, respect each other, and cherish our history and our future together. So important. We have to respect each other. Ideally, we have to love each other.
And here’s an unnamed senior White House official’s when asked for clarification:
When I asked senior WH official why Trump didn't condemn Cville Nazis, he said: "What about the leftist mob. Just as violent if not more so"
— Gabriel Sherman (@gabrielsherman) August 13, 2017
I think Josh Marshall’s take here is correct:
Aside from not denouncing anyone, "cherish our history" is in context a major shout out to the White Supremacist marchers. Zero ambiguity. pic.twitter.com/QiQ8BeZfhk
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) August 13, 2017
Marshall isn’t the only one making this connection. University of Minnesota law professor and former Bush (43) Administration ethics counsel Richard Painter drew a similar conclusion:
These people aren't a southern problem. They're an American problem. They answer a dog whistle from the White Househttps://t.co/6X2Sjb0GLq
— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) August 13, 2017
Certainly the white nationalists, white supremacists, neo-NAZIs, Klansmen, etc understood the President’s message the same way that Marshall, Painter, and I do:
While the rest of you are busy dissing the Presidents remarks at least one group is praising it Sure it's the Neo-Nazis but they're lovin it pic.twitter.com/KhuxLlbcm6
— The Declaration (@DeclarationUSA) August 13, 2017
Just click through to the Daily Stormer’s Unite the Right page where the excerpt above was taken from. Also, they think the accused terrorist/murderer is Jewish. And that’s going to be their story going forward: false flag, Jewish infiltration, we’re being maligned and made to look bad. Or David Duke’s remarks:
— Joanna Robinson (@jowrotethis) August 12, 2017
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. https://t.co/Rkfs7O2Ykr
— David Duke (@DrDavidDuke) August 12, 2017
And all of this is why the President and his unnamed senior administration officials responses aren’t just insufficient, but an indication of the moral deficiency of the President and too many of his close appointees and advisors. When neo-NAZIs, Klansmen, white nationalists, white supremacists, and the militia cosplay crowd believe you are speaking directly to them, supporting what they support, believe what they believe, and are explicitly and implicitly working on their behalf then you have a real problem. And that problem is not going to be resolved by giving mealy mouthed magic balance fairy and view from nowhere and both sides do it responses to a major domestic terrorism incident in the US.
Here’s the President’s response to the attack in Nice, France that also employed a vehicle as an improvised weapon:
Another horrific attack, this time in Nice, France. Many dead and injured. When will we learn? It is only getting worse.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 14, 2016
Here’s his response to the attack in London that also employed a vehicle as an improvised weapon:
We must stop being politically correct and get down to the business of security for our people. If we don't get smart it will only get worse
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2017
And here are his twitter responses from yesterday:
We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2017
Am in Bedminster for meetings & press conference on V.A. & all that we have done, and are doing, to make it better-but Charlottesville sad!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2017
There is a stark difference and that is before we even get to the “shared history” dogwhistle that Josh Marshall flagged. The difference is further reinforced by the responses of a number of Republican senators:
We should call evil by its name. My brother didn't give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home. -OGH
— Senator Hatch Office (@senorrinhatch) August 12, 2017
— Tim Scott (@SenatorTimScott) August 12, 2017
Mr. President – we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism. https://t.co/PaPNiPPAoW
— Cory Gardner (@SenCoryGardner) August 12, 2017
What " WhiteNatjonalist" are doing in Charlottesville is homegrown terrorism that can't be tolerated anymore that what Any extremist does
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) August 12, 2017
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) August 12, 2017
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) August 12, 2017
A full rundown can be found here. Now, of course, we have to wait and see what these senators will actually do about the merger of their party with the white nationalism and white supremacism that is at the heart of Trumpism and Bannon’s national populism.
Former Bush (43) Administration ethics counsel Professor Richard Painter has clearly delineated the problem and the necessary solution:
What is this "many sides" BS? There were fascists, racists and Bannonites on one side, and police and anti-fascists on the other.
— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) August 13, 2017
The answer to this is to remove every single monument to the rebel traitors on public lands anywhere in the USA. https://t.co/7Hqeu7RnWH
— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) August 12, 2017