Trump should show courage to take on far right

Published: Sun 13 Aug 2017, 9:30 PM

Last updated: Sun 13 Aug 2017, 11:32 PM

It was a cowardly parade of racism, bigotry, intolerance and hatred that took place near the University of Virginia on Saturday. The usually quiet city of Charlottesville erupted in violence as White nationalists, who gathered for a "Unite the Right" event, clashed with counter-protesters. Hatred was taken to the streets. But the one person who should have been the first to respond, the one person who should have been among the first to condemn the White supremacists chose to remain silent for a long time. He remained quiet until the rally had been dispersed, until a 32-year-old woman was killed when a car ploughed into counter-protestors, until two state troopers who were part of a response team to the events died when their helicopter crashed, and until emergency was declared in Virginia.
US President Donald Trump first reacted to the shameful melee, a spectre of domestic terrorism, through a tweet on Saturday afternoon - hours after the White nationalists began the torch-wielding march. And when he later spoke from his private golf club in New Jersey, Trump failed to name and shame the perpetrators - the White nationalist and supremacist groups who had supported Trump in his elections. Instead, he slammed the violence as coming from many sides. "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides," said Trump. Though the event where he made the remarks was billed a Press conference, he failed to answer reporters who asked him whether he condemns the White nationalists. Trump has been quick to label such events happening on foreign territory as terrorism, just as he has blamed leaders for not quickly calling such attacks terror attacks. The US president has a lot to answer. It is unfortunate that the violence took place near the University of Virginia. Its founder, Thomas Jefferson, had envisioned a country where "all men are created equal". And it is more unfortunate that the president has failed to call a spade a spade.

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