Bad AND GOOD from Charlottesville

Swastika Charlottesville.jpg

What is one to make of the events at Charlottesville last week and of Trumps reactions, different as they were on Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday? The sights of the night march with torches and the Nazi Flags should have shocked any American with any sense of history. But the sight of Nazi flags and torches weren’t what shocked our President. On Saturday he condemned “in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.”

He followed with words about American values and unity, mixed in with talk about how well the economy is doing under his leadership. But his denunciation of “many sides, many sides” drew all the attention. And deservedly so.

Trumps denouncement of “many sides” on Saturday provoked extremely strong reactions not only from the left but more importantly from all over the right, Senators Hatch, Cruz, Rubio, Grassley, Gardner, Scott, and others.

Uncharacteristically, in the face of this criticism Trump changed his position Monday, denouncing racism and standing up for American values as strongly as Presidents should.

Then on Tuesday he flipped back to his equivocating position of Saturday, insisting that many of those who marched along with the torches, and Nazi and Confederate flags were good people who only wanted to keep the statue of Robert E. Lee in the park.

So what does all this mean about our President and what does it mean about America?

Trump’s first reaction was designed to avoid offending his racist supporters, although on the evidence available it’s probably unfair to call Trump himself a racist. Then on Monday under pressure from Republicans of all stripes he denounced the vile marchers’ cause. And on Tuesday he was back to equating bad people on both sides.

So should we assume that Trump learned a lesson, that he’s turned a page? Certainly not. One should never assume the Trump has learned a lesson or turned a page. Those are things he doesn’t do.

But he did denounce the extremists in no uncertain terms. That is at least a cue to his civilized supporters to steer clear of the hate groups. That’s a good thing, although he seriously weakened that position on Tuesday

The good news from all this is that America is healthier than it has seemed to many of us on the Left. Our Constitution protects protesters, even in causes as vile as white supremacy, anti-Semitism, and Nazism. And the vile protest was allowed to proceed even though, as Fox News pointed out, protesters don’t normally march with helmets, shields, and baseball bats, unless they’re looking for violence.

But more importantly, and reassuringly, we saw many key Republicans, especially in the Senate, stand strong and say, “No, this is not my America, this is not who we are.” Thankfully, they spoke for me too.

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