A white nationalist group will be coming to Newnan shortly to stage a rally, which will be counter-protested by anti-fascists.
While we must permit free speech under our Constitution, we certainly do not have to support what is said by racists. But, this regrettable situation is just a snapshot of what is happening to our great country.
Our nation is in serious trouble. Over the past few decades… but especially in the last year with the most divisive, arrogant, deceptive President in modern times… America has devolved into political tribalism. Love of country and national unity has been replaced by love of party and, at least over the last few years, a unique form of celebrity worship.
There is a lot of talking, but very little listening to the other side and very little desire to compromise by either party. Longtime friends are at each other’s throats and throwing insults back and forth on social media.
To a large extent each side filters what it hears and sees. But, as a moderate Republican who watches both CNN and Fox as well as gets both right-wing and left-wing newsletters, it is clear to me that the nativist right is especially dismissive of anything that has not come directly out of the President’s camp or his personal news outlet – and White House management recruiter, Fox News.
And, his evangelical minions blindly follow him, excusing each and every faux pas as well as each clearly racist rant and act. Often, instead of defending his actions, their rationale is “he’s much better than the other side.” They would not be as forgiving, however, if the shoe were on the other foot.
Let's reverse the tables for a theoretical exercise. For example, what would the conservative, evangelical base think of a Democrat President who said:
"Nobody wants to tell you the truth, the lame stream media would rather just promote fake news. But I am a stable genius, smart enough tell you the facts right now.
“Although ISIS is killing a few innocent people, you and I know some of them are really not bad. They haven’t all killed a moderate Muslim or an American.
“The same goes for the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Some just care about preserving their radical Islamic heritage. It’s simply part of their history.
“Fake news by the lame stream media is telling you otherwise; believe me because I'm a genius and never lie. Plus, someone on the internet told me it's a fact, so it must be true.
“And, those Hamas crowds yelling ‘death to the Jews.’ not everyone marching is really yelling. Furthermore, some of them would not actually kill anyone, on purpose at least. There are good and bad people on both sides."
Most Republicans would want that Democrat run out of town on a rail. I certainly would. Now, think about how many religious conservatives failed to condemn President Trump for actually saying the following regarding the Charlottesville tragedy last year:
"The same goes for those folks marching with the Nazis. Not all of them want to kill Jews and blacks. Just some of them.
“You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch."
Anyone can promote false moral equivalencies, equating white Nazi sympathizers with anti-fascists, even a President. It is very easy to do, but ethically and factually wrong. How are those words defensible by traditional Republicans? Why doesn't the GOP leadership directly and strongly condemn the racist person saying them?
Can our modern-day P.T. Barnum, President Trump, get away with selling absolutely anything to the rubes who go to the county fair? The answer is that at least one-third of us still believe him and seemingly will continue – regardless of the truth and objective reality. It's up to the GOP leadership to change that situation.
Jack Bernard of Fayette County, a retired corporate executive, was a two-term county commissioner and former county Republican Party chairman in Jasper County.