Trump’s idea of “very fine people”

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The poster for last Saturday’s rally. See the end of post for the SPLC’s guide to the symbols.

 

Who were those “very fine people” that President Trump chose to defend in his unhinged press conference Tuesday marching alongside in Charlottesville last Saturday?

Here, courtesy of the Southern Poverty Law Center, is a quick overview of the people and groups the president can’t bring himself to denounce:

  • Jason Kessler, the organizer of the the Unite the Right rally, which culminated in the murder of counter protester Heather Heyer at the hands of a self-avowed Nazi, is a white nationalist blogger who bills himself as a journalist, activist, and author. He made his initial splash by trying to unseat Charlottesville only black city councilman.
  • Richard Spencer is another white nationalist whose clean-cut appearance made him something of a media sensation when he first appeared around the fringes of the Trump presidential campaign. His goal is to create a white ethno-state in North America, a white homeland for European-Americans. A so-called “academic racist,” He dropped out of a PhD program at Duke in modern European intellectual history. Spencer has been connected to Trump White House policy adviser Stephen Miller.
  • Christopher Cantwell is an alt-right anti-semitic shock jock who is the focal point of the disturbing Vice News documentary on the violence in Charlottesville. Watch and see for yourself the views that he espouses and which Trump tacitly defends if not outright supports.

  • Matthew Heimbach is a white nationalist who graduated from Towson State University in 2013 with a degree in history, where he founded a campus chapter of Youth for Western Civilization and the White Students Union. He is considered emblematic of the new face of white nationalism in America. He is the training director for the neo-Confederate League of the South.
  • Michael Hill is the neo-Confederate Southern nationalist founder of the League of the South which is dedicated to the revival of what he considers traditional Southern heritage leading to eventual secession from the United States. In 2007 he wrote this: “If the scenario of the South (and the rest of America) being overrun by hordes of non-white immigrants does not appeal to you, then how is this disaster to be averted? By the people who oppose it rising up against their traitorous elite masters and their misanthropic rule. But to do this we must first rid ourselves of the fear of being called ‘racists’ and the other meaningless epithets they use against us.”

These are just some of the leading figures on the American racist and neo-Nazi far right who took part in the events in Charlottesville. The hundreds marching with torches and literally chanting Nazi slogans Friday night, and then filling the streets Saturday with their shields, helmets, and clubs were drawn from a wide range of neo-Nazi, white nationalist, white separatist, and white supremacist groups, including these:

So let me ask you the question that someone ought to ask President Trump: What kind of “very fine people” do you know who would have marched alongside this crowd?

To decipher the symbols in the Unite the Right rally poster at the top of this post, I again turn to the SPLC. From left to right, the groups represented are: (K) “Kekistani,” (AC) “Anti-Communist,” (L) “Libertarian,” (N) “Nationalist,” (I) “Identitarian/Identity Evropa,” (SN) “Southern Nationalist,” (NS) “National Socialist,” and (AR) “Alt Right.” The National Socialist flags depicted include Traditionalist Worker Party and Vanguard America.

I never want to post this again

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I first posted this almost exactly two years ago, Sept. 15, 2015. I am heartbroken that what we saw in the early days of Donald Trump’s campaign for the White House has come to deadly fruition only eight months into his presidency.

I never want to feel compelled to post this again.

***

I watched American History X with my son this evening. He was born 17 years ago, the same year the movie came out, 1998. And I’m saddened by how little we have changed as a society.

I’m saddened that the vile speech that Ed Norton’s skinhead character Derek Vineyard delivers to his disaffected disciples (watch the clip below) could have been made by any number of Donald Trump’s white nationalist supporters.

I’m saddened that you could exchange the film’s references to Rodney King for Michael Brown and the movie literally could have been made yesterday.

I’m saddened that we are still bringing up our children in a society so paralyzed by fear of change, fear of the other, that we dehumanize and demonize those we should embrace as brothers and sisters.

I’m saddened that I have friends whom I love who cannot see their own prejudice for what it is. I am saddened that I struggle to keep my own prejudices in check.

I want to believe that we can be better than this, that I can be better than this.

I hope and pray that my kids, and yours, will tomorrow be better than we are today. Because we cannot go on like this. We just can’t.

 

The president is responsible

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By failing to specifically condemn the Nazi and white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, VA last night and today, President Trump bears responsibility for the death and injuries that occurred when a hit-and-run driver deliberately plowed into a crowd of peaceful counter protesters.

Where he could have delivered a clear and unambiguous denunciation of racist hatred, Trump instead offered up the weakest of weak platitudes, condemning “many sides, many sides” for the violence rather naming the evil that unfolded on the streets of Charlottesville.

In pointedly refusing to do so, Trump has failed the easiest test of what it means to be the president, and what it means to be a man of either decency or honor.

Is it any wonder those very same Nazis and white supremacists sing Trump’s praises?

 

China knows the game

(NYTimes cartoon)
(NYTimes cartoon)

 

While President Trump’s bombastic and alliterative threats against North Korea appear to be credibility-free bloviating, and North Korea’s are specific enough to be worrying even if doubt remains about their capability, there’s one player in this escalating exchange of warnings who seems to really understand how its done.

That would be China.

The marker was laid down in an editorial published yesterday in China’s state-run newspaper the Global Times:

[I]f North Korea launches missiles that threaten US soil first and the US retaliates, China will stay neutral. If the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.

I will admit answering with decided skepticism when others have asked me whether I think China would enter a new Korean War on the side of Pyongyang. But as in so much of international affairs, context and circumstance matter.

As much as China might want to shake up the East Asian regional order to tilt the balance away from the United States and more in its favor, when it comes to the Korean Peninsula, China is a decidedly status quo power.

As national security analyst John Schindler reminds us in his latest column at the Observer:

Beijing regards Pyongyang as a troublesome client whose antics cause annoyances and worse. However, for Beijing, the continuing existence of North Korea—as long as they don’t cause an atomic holocaust in Northeast Asia—is better than all the other options. A bumptious client state across the Yalu river beats having a united Republic of Korea, a close U.S. ally, on China’s border.

Hence the very clear warning issued to both Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un.

Kim is on notice that if he starts something he’s on his own. China will not have his back.  And Trump is on notice that China will go to war, just like it did in 1950, to ensure the survival of its client if the US makes the first move unprovoked.

The threats are in. I know which one I believe.