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Not Our America

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There are times when our beliefs as Americans must be evaluated. Are we an America that champions inclusivity, regardless of race or religion, or do we value some people more because of the color of their skin? The rally in Charlottesville, Virginia led by white supremacists was one of those times where the importance of America’s diversity was challenged. 

People across the country and around the globe were baffled by the violence and hatred that erupted in Charlottesville. Leaders from various countries, including Germany, Canada and the United Kingdom, condemned the message of white supremacy. 

The “alt-right” members who gathered in Charlottesville were protesting the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. But their bringing of shields and ammunition proves that they never planned to have a peaceful gathering. Their freedom of speech and right to assembly, however, does not allow them to do so with hostile intentions. 

After an event like Charlottesville, Americans look to their president to bring solidarity and show us the right path. But instead of blaming the white supremacists for the hostility in Charlottesville, Trump asserted that there “was blame on both sides” for the violence. 

No, Mr. President, there is not “blame on both sides.” There was one side, armed with guns and torches spewing messages of white supremacy, and another side, who stood united against this racist rhetoric. We, as humans, have the responsibility to speak out against what we believe to be unjust and stand up for the oppressed.

This is not the first time the president has left minorities feeling excluded. From building a wall to banning travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations, the president has sent the message to outsiders that they are not welcome in the U.S.  

The president’s failure to condemn the rally led by white supremacists, along with his divisive initiatives, demonstrates that he is not a president who advocates for all Americans, but only some. 

Perhaps if the protesters were targeting the Anglo-Saxon race, the president would have felt more compelled to speak out. When it came to Black Lives Matter, the president did not hesitate to call the movement a “threat.” In the midst of disproportionate killings of African-Americans by police, the president told the Suffolk County Police Department, “Don’t be too nice.”

Even more concerning was the president’s lack of consistency in his remarks regarding Charlottesville. His initial statement failed to address the racial motivation behind the protests saying, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides, on many sides.” 

It would not be until Monday, two days after the protest, that Trump would denounce the white supremacists.  

“Racism is evil,” President Trump said at the White House. “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.”

However, by Tuesday, the president no longer echoed this same sentiment and instead blamed “both sides” for the events in Charlottesville.  

While the protesters who gathered in Charlottesville have the right to exercise their freedom of speech, we as Americans have the responsibility to speak out against such displays of intolerance and violence in our country. 

The Tweeter-in-Chief has given us one tiny, sliver of hope with his praise for the protesters in Boston who came in droves to speak out against white nationalists on Aug. 19, 2017.

However, his brief applause for such protesters does not erase or in any way make up for his failure to condemn white nationalist groups last week.