How Charlottesville has defined the Trump presidency

August 16, 2017
White nationalists carry torches on the grounds of the University of Virginia, on the eve of a planned Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 11. Photo by Alejandro Alvarez/News2Share

The events in Charlottesville this past weekend serves as a metaphor for a broader battle over what is America and who are Americans. The alliance of alt-Right groups present in Virginia last Saturday seeks to return this nation to a European-oriented culture of white superiority, where class and race matter.  “Jews” served as the lightning rod for what would unfold on Saturday. The language, threats, and intensions of these Gestapo-type units who came to “demonstrate” were on display.  Their dress, their weapons, and their demeanor would convey their message of hate.

This represents the first time in American history where a President has not uniformly and consistently condemned anti-Semitism. Rather than trying to heal the nation or to create a constructive dialogue around regionalism, racism, and responsibility, our President through his inconsistent rhetoric and his willingness to excuse the actions of his alt Right allies has served to further splitter America, giving license to anti-Semitism. Moral equivalency has no place amidst this debate over hate.

Charlottesville saga also symbolizes the larger cultural divide that defines the nation, and more immediately the American South. Indeed, the future of Confederate monuments, scattered across Dixie is sparking an intensive debate on the place of the Civil War in American history, while at the same time reopening the realities of slavery and the vestiges of racism.

Emboldened by the events in Charlottesville and the tacit support of the White House, “Unite the Right” has announced nine rallies for this coming weekend across the nation and additional ones in the weeks ahead.  Now free from any constraints, at least from the White House, are we likely to see further assaults on minorities, including specific attacks on Jewish Americans?

Will the leadership of the Republican Party across this country follow the lead of Marco Rubio, John Kasich, and John McCain and push back against their President, repudiate his messaging while continuing to speak out in defense of the character and spirit of the American creed that has been acknowledged and celebrated for nearly 250 years?

The 20th Century Nazis now have their 21st Century American comrades.  Some have said “it can’t happen in America,” but this President may have set the seeds of hate that could allow such a war against the Jews to unfold.  Did Donald Trump just signal his consent that a war against the Jews and their allies fits within his definition of what it may to take to make America great again?

Steven Windmueller Ph. D. on behalf of the Wind Group, Consulting for the Jewish Future.  Dr. Windmueller’s collection of articles can be found on his website: www.thewindreport.com.

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