PRESIDENT Donald Trump has been in office for only 30 weeks but his self-inflicted wound coming from his statement that counter-protestors share the blame with the hate groups — the White supremacists, Neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), and the “Alt-Right” — during their fatal clash on August 12, may be the worst in his already troubled presidency.
Though Trump called out the racist hate groups by name after pressure and criticism from both sides of the aisle, he proceeded to double-down on his original statement that both sides are to blame. He added that there were some really “fine people”, even among those marching with White supremacists, Neo-Nazis, the KKK, and the “Alt-Right”, who were caught in the violent altercation with counter-protesters that were rallying against these hate groups’ message of discrimination, bigotry, and anti-Semitism.
The clash got heated and violent when these hate groups echoed Nazi chants, complete with tiki torches and Nazi symbols, and even spewed racial and bigoted slurs directed to specific people on the other side, as they protested against the removal of a Confederate statue that glorifies slavery and oppression. The violent clash which included one White Supremacist plowing a car into counter-protesters killed 32-year old Heather Heyer and injured dozens.
As the nation of immigrants mourns this tragedy and criticisms against Trump’s statements escalate, the president got praises and accolades from among the leaders of the hate groups for backing them up. They thanked the president for speaking the “truth” on their behalf about what really happened in Charlottesville. They previously have said they support Trump because he “would bring their country back”. Trump did not disavow their support.
Embolden and deemed legitimized by no less than the president of the United States himself, these groups vow to stage more protests like the one they had in Charlottesville all over the country.
Trump even intensified his support for these hate groups’ cause — contending that Confederate flags, statues and symbols all throughout the nation should not be removed because they are part of history. He accuses the counter-protesters, whom he called “very very violent,” to be rewriting history and changing the culture of America.
His supporters among the right-wing media are even floating the false and malicious narrative that the counter-protesters could even be “paid” actors and actresses just to protest in the city, which they say may not be for Charlottesville.
Among those who expressed public condemnation of Trump’s statement is the mother of the victim herself who the White House has been trying to call during Heather Heyer’s memorial service.
Mrs. Susan Bro said, “I’m not talking to the president now,” she said. “I’m sorry. After what he said about my child, and, it’s not that I saw somebody else’s tweets about him, I saw an actual clip of him at a press conference equating the protesters like Ms. Heyer with the KKK and the white supremacists.”
Trump’s statement has also compelled many leaders in the Republican Party and even officers of the U.S. military to condemn these hate groups that promote racism, bigotry, discrimination and anti-Semitism in no uncertain terms.
More and more Republicans in Congress have openly called out Trump by name. The president’s business advisory councils disband as CEO members abandon Trump for his statement. All 17 members of White House arts panel have also resigned to protest Trump’s response to the Charlottesville tragedy.
Two members of Congress — California Rep. Jackie Speier and Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen — have announced the filing of impeachment articles against Trump, stating that he had “failed the presidential test of moral leadership.”
A new CBS poll conducted before and immediately after Trump’s controversial unscripted press conference on August 14 (August 14-16) revealed that a majority — 55 percent of respondents — disapproved of Trump’s response to Charlottesville, with just over a third, 34 percent, approving.
The poll revealed a divide among party lines. Just a little over two-thirds, 67 percent of Republicans approved of Trump’s response, with 22 percent disapproving.
Among the Democrats, an overwhelming 82 percent disapproved while only 10 percent approved. More independents shared the Democrats’ opinion: 53 percent disapproving and 32 percent approving..
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Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com, https://www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos