The Newnan Times-Herald

Opinion

Thinking about ‘taking a knee’


  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Nov. 29, 2017 - 10:42 PM

I feel uncomfortable when anyone takes a knee. But, that is the whole point.

Black athletes are doing it to make us take notice of continuing discrimination, including documented police brutality. Trump attempted to turn their protest into something else entirely, disrespect for our fallen heroes, while completely ignoring the reasons behind the protest.

This pivoting on race is a Trump hallmark.

It is good that W made his general statement about divisiveness, but the GOP as a party must go further. It is past time for GOP elected officials to stop playing games and condemn President Trump by name regarding his Charlottesville remarks and continuing incitement of racial division.

President Trump failing to clearly state that there is no moral equivalency between white supremacists and those protesting racism is reprehensible. Look at these two quotes:

A. "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides, on many sides. What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order...” and,

B. “Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the K.K.K., neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

Quote A was made by Trump immediately after the Charlottesville white supremacist terrorist act, a car running into a peaceful group of anti-racists. The first quote falsely equates the vicious, violent white nationalists with peaceful protesters. It implies that the problem is weak law enforcement rather than anti-American hate groups.

Trump was cheered then by the alt-right.  But, don’t take my word for it.

The Daily Stormer is the website for the American Nazi movement. Regarding Quote A, it stated: “No condemnation at all. When asked to condemn, [Trump] just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him.”

And, “Trump comments were good. He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us. He said that we need to study why people are so angry, and implied that there was hate … on both sides! So he implied the antifa (i.e. anti-fascists) are haters. There was virtually no counter-signaling of us at all. He said he loves us all.”

Richard Spencer, one of the best known alt-right racist leaders joyously tweeted; “Did Trump just denounce antifa?”

Quote B was made by Trump a full two days later, carefully reading from a teleprompter. In the meantime, Speaker Ryan (R) and Republican Senators Rubio, Hatch, Gardner, Heller, Gardner, Ernst, McCain and Portman strongly and directly criticized Trump for his refusal to name the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists as the ones at fault in this incident.

Senator Cruz, the darling of the traditional GOP right wing and Trump’s main adversary for the 2016 GOP Presidential nomination, went so far as to demand that the Department of Justice "immediately investigate and prosecute today's grotesque act of domestic terrorism."

The question was why Trump didn’t make the strong condemnation on Saturday versus Monday. Why did his chief of staff, General Kelly, and the entire Republican leadership have to tell him that specifically condemning radical alt-right group violence versus “many sides” was important?

The answer came to us on Tuesday (8-15) during a press conference where Trump clarified his earlier remarks by saying:

A. “Not all of those people were neo-Nazis”; B. “You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent, and nobody wants to say that”; C. You had a group (i.e. anti-fascists) on the other side that came charging in without a permit and they were very, very violent; and D. “The statement I made on Saturday, the first statement, was a fine statement.”

On the right, David Duke’s response was equally unequivocal: “Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Anifa.”

Shouldn’t strongly condemning violence in the name of white supremacism have been self-evident to the leader of the free world? Why does he need to equate fascists with those opposing racism? Does he have any notion of either U.S. or world history, of the millions who have perished here, in Europe and elsewhere due to racism?

His daughter Ivanka is an Orthodox Jew, as are her children. These Nazis are the same people who would have thrown her into an oven, as they did my father’s grandparents.

Because of his remarks, multiple CEO members of Trump’s Manufacturing Council and Strategy and Policy Forum quit. Apparently others were about follow suit in that Trump disbanded both key industry groups on Wednesday, 8/16. Administration members with any conscience should do the same.

It is past time for my party, the GOP, to officially and directly declare that this President does not represent them. It is not enough to just generally criticize a few words he said here and there. GOP leadership must state that Trump does not speak for the party or America.

It is the right thing to do politically. But much more importantly, it is the correct thing morally. History is watching, Mr. McConnell and Mr. Ryan.

Jack Bernard of Fayette County, a retired corporate executive, was a two-term county commissioner and former county Republican Party chairman in Jasper County.