Presently, the United States is a hotbed of racial tensions that seem to rise by the day. The police brutality that mostly affects African Americans and a Donald Trump presidency appears to worsen the situation further. Many political pundits agree that President Trump is very calculating and unpredictable, attributes that some senior Republican officials have had to come to terms with lately. The clash between White nationalists and counter-protestors, together with the violence that was to follow would bring President Trump to public light yet again. It is a matter of where he stands on issues race and the possibility of outlawing extremist groups that operate in the United States.
The event began with the White nationalists (mostly Alt-Righters and Neo-Nazi movements) organizing a rally to voice their opposition to plans that were underway to remove a statue of the Confederacy’s top general, Robert E. Lee, from Charlottesville Emancipation park. In a modern era that promotes progressive practices, local officials in the American South have been making efforts to remove similar statue as they are representative of a shameful period in American history. Confederate Generals were fighting the Union government of President Abraham Lincoln because it was ending the institution of slavery and emancipating all those that were in servitude (Carroll 12). It is this knowledge that officials would use to guide their draconian decision to remove the statues from their cities, entering into a new era.
Before this, the removal of statue similar to the one in question had been the cause of discontent amongst White nationalists with groups such as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) organizing protests to condemn such actions. However, during this particular event, it was soon apparent that there were deeper issues other than the removal of a statue. It would soon emerge that most of those attending the rally had been arming themselves to the teeth with their rhetoric bearing all the hallmarks of a steady rise in right-wing extremism.
Soon, the counter-protesters were able to outflank the White nationalists, and this was where the violence first broke off. There were violent confrontations between the two groups that would go onto harm scores, but not as devastating as the car attack. At around 1.45pm, a White supremacist went on to use his car as a weapon, plowing into a large group of counter-protesters. The attack left one person dead, Heather D. Heyer, a paralegal passionate about equality in society (“What Happened in Charlottesville Is All Too American”). Many immediately drew parallels between this attack and others that jihadists perpetuate in Europe to spread fear among the local population.
It is also important to note that a vast majority of those who were planning the event were staunch Trump supporters. The primary reason why they went ahead to endorse President of the United States of America is that most of them saw him as a far-right conservative who would deal with the liberals head on and take the country back to the old order where whites would reign supreme (Rall 192). Many know President Trump for his inflammatory messages, with some, even terming him as a “racist” president. His response after this attack was equally confusing, especially when he made an off the cuff remark blaming both sides for the violence that took place and essentially putting Neo-Nazis and champions of democracy on the same moral plane.
Analysis of the event
The United States has deep racial wounds that are yet to heal. The building of this country was on the backs of African slaves; the human cargo that came aboard ships to a life of servitude in the United States (Mahiri 45). It was these individuals that would provide labor for the hundreds of plantations in the South and enable their owners to give revenue to the burgeoning young country. The United States had fought a bloody war of independence against Great Britain but would remain silent on the issue of race and equality to avoid another conflict. It took the bold action of a president adhering to the aspirations of the founding fathers of the nation that all men are born free to free the slaves.
One can simply explain that protesting the removal of the Robert E. Lee’s statue is only standing up against the elimination of a historical figure, but it is the issues underneath the surface that are most worrying. Most of those in attendance were ethnocentric individuals that were racist, with some even donning apparel with the German Socialist Party’s Swastika, anti-Semitic banners, and Confederate battle flags. Adolf Hitler was responsible for orchestrating one of the most shocking pogroms in the history of humanity, killing 6 million Jews in the process (Roberts 34). It is dreadful to discover that there is a segment of the American population who draw their inspiration from such an individual. President Trump’s initial reaction to the attack that left one person dead was also surprising to many. His comment buoys the white nationalist movement, especially after equating them with the activists who were protesting the acts of racism. All this comes at a time when the Trump administration is cutting its funding for the Counter Extremism program that was meant to protect at-risk communities from home-grown threats (“3 Ways the Trump Administration Has Downplayed White Supremacy | Reveal”). The Trump administration has also frozen funding for Life After Hate, an organization helping white supremacist start new lives which seem to portend tough times ahead.
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