The ideology of white supremacy is one that has reared its ugly head time and time again in human history and seems to be incessantly embedded in the American culture. Charlottesville is a small city, only two-hours from Washington, but has become the center of racist controversy. This spring, the local council voted to remove a statue of Confederate General, Robert E. Lee, from a downtown park. In reaction to this, white nationalist, Richard Spencer of Virginia, who has a substantial online far-right following base, organized a torchlit rally at the statue.
On August 12, 2017, the world witnessed this hate filled group carry out a terror attack. The driver of a Dodge Challenger rammed into a crowd of anti-racism protesters, killing Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old Charlottesville resident. America is now further entrenched in escalating racial tensions and, potentially, has never stopped being in such predicaments since its establishment. The recent rise of the voice of white supremacists, who were largely a silent group for many years, has now galvanized vicious momentum.
The events that have unfolded in Charlottesville are merely a symptom, the root of which is hate and racism. The neo-Nazis, KKK, alt-right, and whatever else they call themselves (read: racists), have been provided with a platform and an updated agenda. Their cowardice, as shown by their harassment of liberty and blarring racist behavior, has empowered them, emboldened them, and taken them from the margins into the mainstream. Why?
The President of the United States has played the leading role in inspiring and supporting these hate groups. From President Trump’s hate filled language and bigoted undertones to most of his public talks, all of which are evidently more powerful than initially anticipated. When he called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” he clearly declared his assumptions, prejudices, and willful ignorance. This was only one of the disparaging comments he has made throughout his campaign and after his election. Trump’s entrance to the White House has re-energized activists and groups in America that reject both left-wing ideology and mainstream conservatism.
Trump has never denounced the support he has received from white supremacist groups and leaders.America has a President who has not only overlooked this rising issue of white supremacy, but who has failed to demonstrate courage and leadership in its wake. This cannot and should not be ignored. His actions and inaction speak volumes. Withstanding recent incidents, what effects are Trump, his language, his opinions, and his supporters having on Americas as a country? Not a positive one!
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has reported a rise in the number of hate groups operating in the United States. The SPLC’s newly published hate map comes at the same time as a sharp rise in “bias incidents” – instances of hate crimes or harassment and intimidation – following the election of far-right President Donald Trump. “We’ve also seen a steady accumulation of white nationalist flyering reports (at least 85), 78 percent of which occurred on college campuses,” the SPLC explains.
The most noticeable upsurge was among anti-Muslim groups which increased from 37 to 101 in just one year. In 2010, the SPLC knew of only five anti-Muslim groups. FBI statistics report hate crimes directed at Muslims increased by 67 percent between 2014 and 2015. Almost 1,372 “bias incidents” were recorded within three months of Trump being elected; 25 percent of which were motivated by anti-immigrant sentiments. Nearly 19 percent of those incidents targeted African Americans, while nearly 10 percent were anti-LGBT, and another nine percent targeted Muslims. These facts clearly speak for themselves, but they also speak for America on the international stage.
Confronting the racist roots and the move towards improving race relations needs to begin with acceptance that there is an issue – that there are still racists and white supremacists very actively preaching hate in a country that prides itself on being at the forefront of the civilized world. Ignoring such groups is essentially supporting such groups and this is precisely what Trump has proved through his actions.
On Twitter, Trump writes that it is “foolish” to remove statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson and ruminated that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson statues may be next to go. He further wrote, “Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments.” Such comments, at a time of such turmoil, demonstrates his affinity to the sensibilities of the white supremacists.
The fact is that these statues may represent many things to many people in America. They may not be perceived as racists symbols by many, nonetheless, taking them down is powerful because it makes a statement. It tells radical racists in no uncertain terms that their behavior and beliefs are not acceptable in this society.
In such times of adversity, the populace looks toward its leader to calm tensions and encourage people to come together against evil. When and if that person doesn’t take such measures, it speaks volumes. Trump has clearly chosen a side, regardless of his belated “politically correct” forced statements. He has yet again revealed his regressive views. America has a leader that is encouraging mentalities in society that need to be eliminated and giving rise to hate that the country has worked so hard to eradicate.
The President of the United States is considered to be the world’s most powerful political figure. As the leader of the only contemporary global superpower, Trump is not only letting down his country, but setting such precedence internationally.