The Moral Shambles That is Our President

Denouncing Nazis and the KKK and violent white supremacists by those names should not be a difficult thing for a president to do, particularly when those groups are the instigators and proximate cause of violence in an American city, and one of their number has rammed his car through a group of counter-protestors, killing one and injuring dozens more. This is a moral gimme — something so obvious and clear and easy that a president should almost not get credit for it, any more than he should get credit for putting on pants before he goes to have a press conference.

And yet this president — our president, the current President of the United States — couldn’t manage it. The best he could manage was to fumble through a condemnation of “many sides,” as if those protesting the Nazis and the KKK and the violent white supremacists had equal culpability for the events of the day. He couldn’t manage this moral gimme, and when his apparatchiks were given an opportunity to take a mulligan on it, they doubled down instead.

This was a spectacular failure of leadership, the moral equivalent not only of missing a putt with the ball on the lip of the cup, but of taking out your favorite driver and whacking that ball far into the woods. Our president literally could not bring himself to say that Nazis and the KKK and violent white supremacists are bad. He sorely wants you to believe he implied it. But he couldn’t say it.

To be clear, when it was announced the president would address the press about Charlottesville, I wasn’t expecting much from him. He’s not a man to expect much from, in terms of presidential gravitas. But the moral bar here was so low it was on the ground, and he tripped over it anyway.

And because he did, no one — and certainly not the Nazis and the KKK and the violent white supremacists, who were hoping for the wink and nod that they got here — believes the president actually thinks there’s a problem with the Nazis and the KKK and the violent white supremacists. If he finally does get around to admitting that they are bad, he’ll do it in the same truculent, forced way that he used when he was forced to admit that yeah, sure, maybe Obama was born in the United States after all. An admission that makes it clear it’s being compelled rather than volunteered. The Nazis and the KKK and the violent white supremacists will understand what that means, too.

Our president, simply put, is a profound moral shambles. He’s a racist and sexist himself, he’s populated his administration with Nazi sympathizers and white supremacists, and is pursuing policies, from immigration to voting rights, that make white nationalists really very happy. We shouldn’t be surprised someone like him can’t pass from his lips the names of the hate groups that visited Charlottesville, but we can still be disappointed, and very very angry about it. I hate that my baseline expectation for the moral behavior of the President of the United States is “failure,” but here we are, and yesterday, as with previous 200-some days of this administration, gives no indication that this baseline expectation is unfounded.

And more than that. White supremacy is evil. Nazism is evil. The racism and hate we saw in Charlottesville yesterday is evil. The domestic terrorism that happened there yesterday — a man, motivated by racial hate, mowing down innocents — is evil. And none of what happened yesterday just happened. It happened because the Nazis and the KKK and the violent white supremacists felt emboldened. They felt emboldened because they believe that one of their own is in the White House, or at least, feel like he’s surrounded himself with enough of their own (or enough fellow travelers) that it’s all the same from a practical point of view. They believe their time has come round at last, and they believe no one is going to stop them, because one of their own has his hand on the levers of power.

When evil believes you are one of their own, and you have the opportunity to denounce it, and call it out by name, what should you do? And what should we believe of you, if you do not? What should we believe of you, if you do not, and you are President of the United States?

My president won’t call out evil by its given name. He can. But he won’t. I know what I think that means for him. I also know what I think it means for the United States. And I know what it means for me. My president won’t call out evil for what it is, but I can do better. And so can you. And so can everybody else. Our country can be better than it is now, and better than the president it has.

154 thoughts on “The Moral Shambles That is Our President

  1. Notes:

    1. Mallet is out. Play nicely with each other. Stay on topic rather than getting on a soapbox for general themes. A few of you who I know are liable to get overly excited and spewy, I’m watching you in particular.

    2. If you’re going to play the same sort of equivalency game as our president did in terms of who were the bad actors in Charlottesville, it’s going to go poorly for you. Please don’t.

    3. For the avoidance of doubt regarding my First Amendment positions on gatherings such as took place in Charlottesville, this piece is useful. That said, let’s not use that link as a way to open up a separate conversation thread.

    4. Also, as an aide, I checked the Twitter feeds of both my senators and my congressional representative. They did just fine calling out evil for what it was. And so did my state’s governor! And three of the four of them are GOP, just in case someone’s interested on that score.

    5. Also also, see this by Josh Marshall about “cherish our history” and whether it’s a dog whistle to various racists. I don’t know enough about the phrase and its history to make any real comment about it in the piece.

  2. Well said, as always, John.

    I woke up this morning hoping yesterday was a bad dream; I went to school in Charlottesville, and it’s a warm, friendly community and NOT a bastion of hatred and fear. It hurts my heart to know that this travesty will be the first thing that comes to mind for most Americans when they hear the name, for many years to come.

    As to 45’s unwillingness to call out the hate groups on their evil, alas, it will never happen. 45 is the ultimate extension of solipsism — a person with tremendous power for whom nothing else IS, beyond himself. Hate groups do him no harm, and thus can’t be evil. It still boggles my mind that such a narcissistic madman could be elected to high office.

    We live in dangerous days.

  3. The most telling comment of the day: “Trump comments were good. He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us….. There was virtually no counter-signaling of us at all. He said he loves us all…. No condemnation at all. When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him.” ~The Daily Stormer

  4. I’ve attended the Women’s March and a few others. At every one my wife was concerned–she wouldn’t let me take our daughter at all–that someone might act out in response. I kinda shrugged it off.

    I’m not shrugging it off anymore, and you’ve gotta know that’s exactly the what that asshole driver hoped to accomplish yesterday. And if I thought Trump really had a strategic brain cell I would say that’s another reason he didn’t condemn the driver in stronger terms. I can’t help but think this will have a silencing effect on marches and protests against him.

    While we’re talking about the political gimme, how about state legislatures considering laws to incentivize driving through protesters? Shaking my goddamn head.

  5. ” I went to school in Charlottesville, and it’s a warm, friendly community and NOT a bastion of hatred and fear.”

    From what I’ve seen, the only really questionable response from Charlottesville residents were from the police. Charlottesville didn’t deserve this.

  6. I had a great uncle who fought with Patton in Europe. I’m pretty sure he is rolling over in his grave today when you have a POTUS who won’t condemn neo- nazis .

  7. You’re right, John.

    But the worst part is that millions of Americans knew this about him and they elected him anyway.

    This moral shambles isn’t just in the White House. It’s all across this nation.

  8. Act 2 of the national descent into violent madness has commenced. Those who bring the hate, who terrorize and intimidate officially have moved from the realm of violenct verbal discourse to violence in the physical space.

    They brought it. They came to Charlottesville from many places — they are not Charlottesville residents. They came in body armor, open carry guns, mace, shield and clubs, to strut their bully badassery cosplay in someone else’s home, to HURT people and shut down people who see differently.

    Be aware that 52% of the people living in Charlottesville and the immediate area are descended from the enslaved. There was a reason they picked this small city, beyond it being the home of the university founded by the founding father of white supremacy.

  9. To quote:

    “Above all else we must remember this truth: no matter our color, creed, religion, or political party, we are all Americans first. We love our country, we love our God, we love our flag, we’re proud of our country, we’re proud of who we are. So we want to get the situation straightened out in Charlottesville, and we want to study it. And we want to see what we are doing wrong as a country where things like this can happen.”

    To me, that sounds exactly the opposite of what a white supremacist would want to hear. I’m not clear on what exactly you wanted him to say.

  10. John A:

    “I’m not clear on what exactly you wanted him to say.”

    Strangely enough, I made it pretty clear what I wanted him to say in the body of the piece; as a hint, it’s something most other prominent national politicians had no problem saying. Maybe you should read the piece again and it will come to you.

    Jesi:

    Thanks, I’ll fix.

  11. This was all clear well before the election. Remember the interview where Trump not only wouldn’t condemn the KKK, but pretended he wasn’t sure what the KKK was?

    I’m in the uncomfortable position, along with the ACLU, of being willing to defend Nazi’s right to demonstrate like anyone else. But it’s utterly baffling that a group with an inherently violent ideology was allowed to march *with weapons*. Torches, sticks, shields. (I’m in the SCA, a medieval hobbyist group, and have done a good deal of sparring with shields and heavy sticks. Used maliciously against somebody not armored, those are easily deadly weapons.)

    To say nothing of the fat white men walking around in fake BDUs, carrying rifles with impunity. The last time a lot of politically active black men decided to legally carry rifles in public, the NRA lobbied for more restrictive gun control.

  12. Trump has one and only one criterion for judging a person’s moral worth: whether or not that person supports him.

    That’s it. That’s all that matters.

    He can’t denounce the Nazis, and I doubt he ever will. Because they support him, which automatically makes them good.

  13. As long as Bannon Gorka and Miller are in the whitehouse he will NEVER call out the white supremists and nazis.

  14. Thanks John! Very well articulated. As always, I appreciate your sane and pragmatic political commentary.

  15. One of my horrible republican senators did a great job condemning it. The other… not so much.

    Neonazis came to my town last year and the protests were safe and life-affirming. They’re planning to come again this year and I’m worried.

  16. I read it, and I would love to see Trump generally condemning white supremacists and specific groups of such. But in reference to a specific incident, is it ok for a president to essentially blame a group for something before they take responsibility for it, or before prosecution concludes that the criminal was part of a specific group?

  17. Manuel Royal: My text of the First Amendment specifies the right of the people to PEACEABLY to assemble and to protest. Your comment about carrying weapons is thus on point: if you are going to arm yourself to have a protest, then peacefulness seems to be ruled out, and to me is NOT protected under the Constitution. But then I’m no lawyer.

  18. But in reference to a specific incident, is it ok for a president to essentially blame a group for something before they take responsibility for it, or before prosecution concludes that the criminal was part of a specific group?

    Hell yes.

    People are dead. You don’t seem to care.

  19. It’s like Fonzi could never say “I’m sorry”, only not funny.

    Trump tried saying “nazi”, but it came out “radical islamic terrorism”.

    In his defense, his poll numbers are in the toilet, and pretty much the only people left supporting him are folks who see the nazis and think “maybe they have a point”.

    #howwillweknowifwedontlisten

    So, obviously, he can’t condemn the bigots. It’s all he’s got left.

  20. A lot of folks are treating this sort of thing as an intellectual exercise. That’s a luxury other people can’t; it’s literally survival for them.

    (Adjectives excised to spare fragile structures).

  21. I had a great uncle who fought with Patton in Europe. I’m pretty sure he is rolling over in his grave today when you have a POTUS who won’t condemn neo- nazis .

    Senator Orrin Hatch on that topic:

    We should call evil by its name. My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.

    Orrin expletive Hatch — never someone I would cite as a moral leader — had no problem using appropriate words yesterday. That’s how low the bar is.

  22. I do care. What I also care about is that the right people are blamed.

    What I would like to see is Trump denounce David Duke personally and his organization. But from what I read so far, they have not claimed any responsibility for this act of terrorism.

    I don’t think it’s ok to blame people who are not proven to be involved.

    You seem to be missing the nuance

  23. @ John A: They were wearing Nazi symbols. They were making Nazi salutes. They were chanting Nazi slogans. WHAT THE HELL MORE DO YOU WANT?

  24. John A:

    So basically as long no organized white supremacist group claims responsibility for the asshole driving his car into a crowd, the president is off the hook for calling out white supremacy.

    That’s helpful, thanks.

    Also I’m going to go ahead and suggest we table this particular conversation. I don’t see it heading to anywhere useful at the moment.

  25. I feel like HRC could have been named Cassandra. Maybe now that mainstream white media are starting to notice everything horrible that she warned about is coming to pass, something will be done. Maybe as a country we’ll start taking what she warned us about seriously, though of course she won’t be given credit. (Of course, many of these guys are still spending pages of print arguing amongst themselves about exactly why it’s her fault that she lost, providing loving profiles of the misunderstood Trump voter, and using a random noun generator to tell us what millennials have destroyed most recently… so maybe not.)

    #$%@$ing Nazis

  26. I didn’t say he shouldn’t call out white supremacists. I said he shouldn’t call out a specific group of them. I.e, the KKK.

    But ok, noted. The mallet is out.

  27. My own useless, cheap marionette of a Republican junior Senator, Cory Gardner, was one of the first GOPers to call the Charlottesville Nazis by name. I was… shocked.

  28. Ruth Edwards:

    I had a great uncle who fought with Patton in Europe. I’m pretty sure he is rolling over in his grave today when you have a POTUS who won’t condemn neo- nazis .

    Patton may have been a great general, and he certainly fought well against the German army, but he was a virulent antiSemite and racist who much preferred the conquered Nazis to their victims.Your uncle and Patton may have been fighting for different things.

  29. This forum is a sane place for discussion in a less than rational world. Thank you.
    How does a mind become so entrenched that it cannot access the moral and better nature provided in exemplary heroic lives abundant as examples? Are we just awash in mental illness that is catching, like plague?
    Is this insanity, killing others you have never seen on a whim.
    Appeals to sanilty, charity, calm, cooperation seem to fall into the Marianas Trench of human self centered misery.

    Yes, I am a Left coast person, but my grandson was born while my daughter was studying law at Duke University so I visitied for long periods. The great medical research triangle near Raleigh Durham, the cultural diversity of the universities there, Supreme Court judges showing up to teach future lawyers, the civility and kindness impressed me.

    This is a misery for some very lovely communities and kind people of all ages and races in North Carolina. NC has its issues, but every state has issues.

  30. @Scalzi — My only complaint with your fine essay is the wording, “my” president. While he is “the” president, so decided by the Electoral College vote, he is not “my” president and you’ve made it otherwise clear he is not “your” president. Ordinarily, I would say the duly elected president is the president and my president. But when he (or she) has done so much harm repeatedly, and (IMHO) clearly needs to be impeached, he (or she) is not “my” (or “your”) president any longer, because that courtesy and privilege is granted only to the President as the person and the office, out of respect for the principles that person and office are called by our Constitution, and our common American sense of what is right, to uphold.

    I didn’t vote for Trump. I watched and listened during the election campaign and was quickly disgusted and knew I could never vote for anyone so reprehensible. I was, however, prepared to give him a chance as duly elected president. But he began ruining his chances from his acceptance speech and inauguration speech onward, and reaches new lows almost daily.

    I still hope Congress and the Senate will quit dragging their feet and will impeach him. But the longer this goes on without that happening, the more disappointed I am with the currently elected officials. I want a peaceful transition back to a sane democratic government that does what it was elected to do, to serve the American people and the world.

    The longer this goes on, the more likely it is to damage our country and the world. The longer it goes on, the more risk we have of short- and long-term bad consequences, here in the US and abroad.

    Our country has gone too far toward a police state in a few things since 9/11 and several things done since Trump’s election. I sincerely do not want that to happen. I want the democracy and freedom I grew up with. (Or at least I thought I grew up with that.)

    It’s encouraging to me that ordinary Americans are discussing the moral/ethical issues and do want real, positive change and a return to democratic principles. If it weren’t for that, I’d really despair for our future chances. There have been some state, county, and city officials who have publicly opposed this trend toward fascism/totalitarianism. This is also a cause to keep believing and hoping and working for things to get better.

  31. @ John D: David Duke is criticizing Trump? Maybe Trump will finally call him out. After all, his policy on Putin is “If he says great things about me, I’m going to say great things about him.”

    In addition to naming and shaming the groups involved I suggest we publish all the pictures of those ridiculous, mostly young white men and make sure their employers and mothers see them with their tiki torches.

  32. I stand in tribute to Heather Heyer, who died, and those other counter-protesters who were injured. I’m sure none of them intended to be martyrs, but they all committed to principles we should admire and emulate.

    For those who are interested, Virginia does not have parole. I can’t imagine that a jury of Charlotteville residents, deliberating on the scum who traveled from outside to do this in their community ON VIDEO, will go easy on him. I don’t think he’ll get the death penalty for second degree murder, which is the current charge, but he will certainly serve every minute of whatever penalty judge & jury impose. He may, in fact, get life. That would be appropriate, I think.

    Ever since the election, I have been discouraged by the resurgence of formerly hidden racism and other forms of bigotry. I had thought the social disguise these vermin had assumed was the truth, and that as a country, we had changed. I thought we were waiting for a relatively few dinosaurs to die and get out of the way. I was wrong, and have learned a sad new lesson on the persistence of tribalism in humanity.

    My hope is that counter-protests will be inspired and invigorated by this event. White supremacists of any stripe must be made to understand that they are NOT the majority, they are not in power, and they will not be permitted to direct law, social policy or the course of our nation. Starting with the Orange Menace in Chief. Let us not be silent, for silence is consent.

  33. Blueship:

    Nope, we have to disagree. I’m a US citizen, Trump the President of the United States, therefore he’s my president, and our president. I would have liked not to have him as president, but that’s not how it worked out, and sometimes one’s president (or senator, or congressional representative) isn’t the one you voted for.

    “My president” in this case does not imply a positive association, any more than “my ingrown nose hair” would.

  34. nicoleandmaggie skrev:

    I feel like HRC could have been named Cassandra. Maybe now that mainstream white media are starting to notice everything horrible that she warned about is coming to pass, something will be done.

    I’ve done a rewrite of the old ha-ha-only-serious joke from after the 1964 election (this is a rough draft TBH):

    “They said if I voted for Hillary, we’d get a warmongering president and a scandal-plagued administration… but I voted for Hillary anyway, and now we’ve got a warmongering president and a scandal-plagued administration.”

  35. Having worked a few blocks from where the incident occurred makes this even harder to read about. Even though that was more than a decade ago, for me that is a real place and Nazis were killing people in a place I walked as an ordinary citizen. This is a sad and dark time.

  36. Condemning white supremacist murder is a VERY low bar to clear (witness the recent statement by Ted Cruz). That Trump refuses to clear it is frightening.

  37. Well said. I know you didn’t know her name when you wrote the piece (because you said so on Twitter), but allow me to say it here: Heather Heyer, Heather Heyer, Heather Heyer.

    Heather Heyer, who died while peacefully opposing Nazis (by whatever name they’re going).
    Heather Heyer, who was murdered in an attack by a Nazi terrorist.

  38. The discussion of what’s evil brings to mind the thoughts of Mr. Tagomi in The Man in the High Castle, escaping (when he can’t stand it any longer) a presentation to Japanese officials concerning the possible successors to the late Chancellor Bormann:

    There is evil! It’s actual like cement.
    I can’t believe it. I can’t stand it. Evil is not a view.

    Of course, many Americans had already learned this before yesterday.

  39. John A, (referring to quote from Trump);
    That reads like carefully written weasel words to me. Too much coded Patriotism (with a capital jack-boot), Christianism,and distancing. And the fact that it seems so carefully written means it cannot possibly have been from Trump’s own hand.
    A bit like the first tweet I saw from him on the subject (not necessarily the first sent, of course) – three reasonably coherent sentences, on the same subject, sounding vaguely like a decent human being; clearly fake news because that’s simply not what he does. Evidently someone got to his phone first.

  40. @Cara E: It’s not so much a calling out as a veiled “Choose your words carefully, you and I both know who helped you get into office” style threat.

  41. Interesting that this section of President (and Chairman of the Republican Party) Trump’s statement is being left out:

    = = = My administration is restoring the sacred bonds of loyalty between this nation and its citizens, but our citizens must also restore the bonds of trust and loyalty between one another. We must love each other, respect each other, and cherish our history and our future together. So important. We have to respect each other. Ideally, we have to love each other. = = =

    OK, ‘cherish our history’ is a straight shout-out to neo-Confederates and the Lost Cause; not much room for interpretation there.

    ‘our citizens must also restore the bonds of trust and loyalty’ is to me at least a reference to Ferguson and Black Lives Matter, which on the Radical Right is viewed as a divisive and anti-American (which includes anti-police) movement and the source of racial unrest and violence in the US. Others may read that differently, but my interpretation is consistent with Candidate Trump’s language and TV commercials during the presidential campaign

  42. The White House is spinning Trump’s mealy-mouthed condemnation of “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides” as being specific: “of course that includes white supremacists, KKK, Neo-Nazi and all extremist groups.”

    During the second presidential debate, candidate Trump criticized HRC for not using the term “radical Islamic terrorism”: “Now, to solve a problem, you have to be able to state what the problem is or at least say the name.”

    By his own standards, if he himself won’t name the name then I can only conclude that he doesn’t consider it to be a problem.

  43. I’m not sure Moral Shambles is strong enough. The sad thing is I have the concept of what he is, but the linguistic side of my brain is locked up in four letter words trying to express the feelings from my emotional side, and it ain’t pretty folks.

    Seriously, the pitcher holds the ball in the palm of his hand and stands in front of home plate. All of the players on the field drop their gloves and turn their backs. Seriously, what more does it take?

  44. Ummm, not quite.

    It seems that if he didn’t denounce the Nazis specifically, he must be a Nazi sympathizer.

    Apparently condemning racism on all sides is racist.

  45. It’s utterly predictable that Trump and his apologists retreat into ‘but you’re ignoring the whole context’ and ‘but what about the nuance’ to try to handwave away what he actually said, and what he actually refused to say. Pay no attention to the racist bloviator behind the curtain, Dorothy!

    As smarter people than I have pointed out, Trump had no problem whatsoever jumping in and clearly condemning terrorists who ran people over on London Bridge. Hell, he had no problem screaming at Nordstrom when it announced it wasn’t going to carry his daughter’s product line because of declining sales.

    This is not a failure of nuance or waiting on the full story to come out. This is a POTUS who’s racist and who cultivates racists, because they are his greatest supporters.

    Why on earth would any decent person want to make excuses for this?

  46. “The problem with this view is that it’s totally out of step with reality. American history and society are not color-blind. Black Lives Matter, for all its faults, sees a truth that Trump does not: America operates an unjust racial hierarchy in which people of color are relegated to the bottom. When African-Americans protest, they are expressing their powerlessness, they are punching upwards….By refusing to identify the very particular problem and evil of white racism, Trump thus divorces himself from reality. He also causes pain where a president ought to try to heal.”

    The quote is from Timothy freakin’ Stanley, the British guy who shows up on CNN to give Trump a plausible face of avuncular, sober, traditional conservatism. Even he cannot believe how bad this Administration is at their jobs.

  47. “Apparently condemning racism on all sides is racist.”

    Please specify what you think the racism on the “other side” was this past weekend.

  48. Analysis: The word “loyalty” when spoken or written by Trump may have a different meaning from the accepted definition in our English dictionaries. I’m not a skilled enough word smith to determine what the word actually means in Trumps mind – but I begin to suspect it’s a code word to groups that claim him as their own.

    I also had family that served, died or were injured fighting in WWII. This feels to me like a huge and significant refutation of the principles for which they fought.

    Trump Quotes:
    “My administration is restoring the sacred bonds of loyalty between this nation and its citizens, but our citizens must also restore the bonds of trust and loyalty between one another.” (From yesterday’s news conference.)

    “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.” (Spoken to Comey)

    “I think loyalty to the country, loyalty to the United States, is important. You know, I mean, it depends on how you define loyalty.” (Interview on Fox News.)

    / quotes

  49. You know Trump looks bad when Senator Ted freaking Cruz leaves him in the dust in the outrage department. This is from The Hill but it’s all over the media:

    “The Nazis, the KKK, and white supremacists are repulsive and evil, and all of us have a moral obligation to speak out against the lies, bigotry, ant-semitism, and hatred that they propagate,” Cruz said in a statement. “Having watched the horrifying video of the car deliberately crashing into a crowd of protesters, I urge the Department of Justice to immediately investigate and prosecute this grotesque act of domestic terrorism,” he continued.”

    Credit where credit is due (and I despise the man overall) but he hit it out of the park.

  50. “I still hope Congress and the Senate will quit dragging their feet and will impeach him.”

    No. Bad as Trump is, in the shipwrecked circumstances we find ourselves in we DO NOT want him removed. Aside from being a “moral shambles” (isn’t “scumbag” a more concise term?), Trump’s inept. He seems to have the attention span of a housefly. And he is the de facto “leader” of the right — and they are more than welcome to him. In terms Trump would understand, he’s “not good for the brand”.

    But elsewhere in the right-wing crew there are people who are **very** focused, and who think that 1950’s Guatemala is a social model to strive for. I doubt that Pence is any kind of world-shaking genius (ha!), but he’s more competent than Trump (it’s a low bar to get over, true). Trump’s surrounded himself with grifters, lickspittles, opportunists. Pence will surround himself with people who are truly scary.

  51. I am also in the SCA, although I am a non-combatant. I am, however, a Peer – recipient of a national-level award for service.

    We had a disturbing incident at the event I just returned from, in which a cowardly person left a note in the merchant booth of a person who was given a fairly major award, to the effect that the person inducted was not worthy of the honor. Of course, the note was unsigned, because cowards never sign their work.

    I am a member of the Order that the person was elevated to. By no means do I see eye-to-eye with everyone (or really, most people) in the Order – yet on this one thing we were united: The poisoned pen letter-writer’s actions were unacceptable, period, full stop. People I like agreed; people I loathe agreed – on this one thing, in particular.

    This is much the same kind of thing. Decent people, regardless of any other attribute – should not be OK with what went down in Charlottesville. That means decent Democrats, decent Republicans, decent independents, decent men, decent women, and so on. Because the actions of the Nazi scum descending upon this town and creating a state of emergency are unacceptable Full stop.

    I am not interested in intellectual exercises surrounding this incident. I care not how many Nazis, or white supremacists, or dumbasses dressed like Der Trumpenfuhrer can dance on the head of a pin, or whether they can dance, or whether there is a pin, or a head, or anything else. A woman died as the direct result of one of these cretins’ actions; I find intellectual exercises inappropriate at best, and repulsive at worst.

    What I expected from the President of the United States was a statement condemning white supremacism and Nazism as unacceptable, period, full stop. Instead, we got a mealy-mouthed, “both sides do it” bunch of bullshit.

    This is setting the bar for decency so low that all that is required is that one be some species other than a worm to pass it. The Petulant Man-Baby failed, period, full stop.

  52. Having watched the horrifying video of the car deliberately crashing into a crowd of protesters, I urge the Department of Justice to immediately investigate and prosecute this grotesque act of domestic terrorism

    Leave it to Jefferson Beauregard’s Department of “Justice” and we’re likely to see all of the antifa protesters indicted on grounds of terrorism.

  53. First off, narcissistic people, like Trump, have no morals. They are only out for themselves.

    My hope is that the outrage so many are proclaiming keeps this as the only such incident. The white supremacists have a dog and pony show they are dragging around the country. May this take the wind from their sails and stop what might be truly atrocious acts of those who want to be like them. Wannabes always push the limits and I think the driver was/is a wannabe.

  54. “the Nazis and the KKK and the violent white supremacists felt emboldened. They felt emboldened because they believe that one of their own is in the White House…”

    Their belief is correct. They have not forgotten who led the ‘birther’ charge against that uppity black man who dared to run for President, and win. They know their own.

  55. The police stood by, when they knew what was going to occur. That pisses me right off.

    The nazis that attacked should be arrested and charged.

  56. I feel for the residents of Charlottesville. Most of them don’t deserve the attention. I grew up primarily in two places: Jasper, Texas and Hempstead, Texas. The people who live there are mostly decent and friendly people.

    On the other hand…

    My memories as a young child in Jasper include street paving that ended where the black neighborhoods began. As a teenager in Hempstead, I recall two buses pulling up to the school for most school outings. Black students filed onto one bus, and white students onto another. It wasn’t enforced segregation; some white kids (athletes) rode on the bus with their black friends, and some black students (academics) rode on the bus with their white friends. But it was there (as were the separate elections for white and black homecoming queen). They even canceled prom for a decade out of fear of mixed race dancing.

    I worked a couple of months in Charlottesville about 15 years ago. Not long enough to pass any kind of judgement on it. I assume that like Jasper and Hempstead, it’s a place with a long history that contributed to what happened this week.

    Just remember that most places also have a long history. Just because your town hasn’t been the focus of national scrutiny yet doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the future. Look around you, and if there are things that need fixing, do it now, before someone has to die.

  57. This article is an insult to shambles!

    (Sorry, I was recently re-reading some Pratchett, so I currently have the word “shambles” associated with wise-beyond-their-years teenage witches.) :)

  58. RobertTurley: To assume that all bigots are uneducated or ignorant is both dangerous and wrong.

  59. Both of my grandfathers were in WWII–one in Europe and the other in the North Pacific. The one who served in Europe came back changed. He wouldn’t talk about it and he refused to go back, even decades later. He died in his 70s; he never fully learned to cope with his demons and his addictions took a decade or more off of his life. He was a casualty of that war, even though he seemed to make it back.

    Part of my father’s family came over to the US in 1913 from Eastern Europe just before WWI. Those that stayed behind all died in concentration camps in the 1940s. Most of that half of my family is gone, just wiped off the map for the crime of being Jewish.

    Nazis are evil. Anyone who protects them, stands with them, refuses to denounce them is likewise evil. Anyone who votes for a candidate who props up Nazis is evil. They all have blood on their hands. They all bear responsibility. Whether they were guarding the camps themselves in the 1940s or born 50 years after that war, if they align themselves with monsters, then they are tarred with the same brush. They are accomplices after the fact.

    Legally, Nazis may be allowed to speak. That doesn’t mean that we, as civilized and responsible human beings shouldn’t shout them down with all of our strength. We have a moral obligation to stand up and say “no.” Anyone who fails to do so is both a coward and complicit.

    If one side has literal Nazis on it, then pick the other side.

  60. There are plenty of people side-stepping the words ‘white supremacists’ and ‘Nazi’; the Editorial Boards of both the Washington Post and the New York Times are still sticking with ‘white nationalists’, whilst professing horror at Trump’s refusal to condemn the behaviour of, you’ve guessed it, ‘white nationalists’.

    Why?

  61. To bluecatship (and everyone else who keeps saying “he must be impeached”) — if Trump isn’t impeached AND CONVICTED, we’ll be even worse off. “Impeach” merely means he’s being tried. If he isn’t convicted, Trump will have had it proven to him that he can do anything — literally anything — he feels like, with no repercussions. Impeach, oh please YES — but I beg of you, add “and convicted”, to your prayers, threats, pleas, and entreaties to the deity or deities or whatever of your choice when you beg for Trump’s impeachment.

  62. I don’t know if Trump is actually a racist, but this and his (lack of a) response to the Mosque bombing in Minnesota tells us exactly who he thinks his base is.

  63. To assume that all bigots are uneducated or ignorant is both dangerous and wrong.

    Indeed. I’m reading Massimo Pigliucci’s How to Be a Stoic, and in a nice bit of synchronicity, the following was in what I read today. It’s long, but I think worth quoting at length.

    “So amathia seems to be a crucial word missing from the English vocabulary. It is the opposite of wisdom, a kind of dis-knowledge of how to deal with other human beings, and it results in awful actions undertaken by otherwise perfectly functional, intelligent human beings. Moreover, people characterized by amathia cannot simply be persuaded by reasoned argument, because they understand the argument but are crucially deficient in their character, which, as the Stoics have shown us, is developed over time by a combination of instincts, environmental influences (especially family guidance), and reason. If something goes wrong early on in a person’s development, it is difficult for reason alone to rectify the resulting amathia later in life.”

    “Belangia also quotes philosopher Glenn Hughes, who provided a further elucidation of the concept of amathia and connected it to Nazi Germany. To Hughes, “intelligent stupidity” was not “so much lack of intelligence as failure of intelligence, for the reason that it presumes to accomplishments to which it has no right.” Intelligent stupidity “is no mental illness, yet it is most lethal; a dangerous disease of the mind that endangers life itself.” The danger lies “not in an inability to understand but in a refusal to understand, [and] any healing or reversal of it will not occur through rational argumentation, through a greater accumulation of data and knowledge, or through experiencing new and different feelings.” Instead, intelligent stupidity is a “spiritual sickness,” and in need of a spiritual cure.

  64. A semantic argument, because arguing about words is more fun than just commenting to agree: I feel like “shambles” implies a lack of intentionality. I looked up the definition to make sure. While Trump is contributing to chaos and disorder, It seems clear he’s making intentional choices about what/who to value. Maybe a “moral void?” Just spit-balling.

  65. Will those of you who keep talking about impeaching the Trump please stop. Mike Pence scares the shnit out of me. He has the same moral(?) compass as Trump but is rational and devious.

  66. Ray Balance-

    “It seems that if he didn’t denounce the Nazis specifically, he must be a Nazi sympathizer.”

    Yes. Full stop.

  67. Temper’s a bit short, but I didn’t need this to know shit was real. That was apparent to me back in January.

  68. Sorry, but I do think Trump should be impeached, convicted, and kicked out. Him remaining in office, and not denouncing white supremacists, is enabling a great deal of this to continue.

    Pence may be a bad replacement, but Trump makes a horrifying President. Pence would just be a bad, or terrible, one, plus someone else would have to cast the tiebreaker vote in the Senate afterward.

    The Nazis in question, that Trump did not denounce, are saying to themselves (on The Daily Stormer and other places Nazis hang out) that this is great. Literal quote “He loves us!” and “No counter-messaging”. They know exactly what he’s not saying, and that’s exactly what they were expecting him not to say.

  69. Literally every single thing this President does makes me hate him more. It’s become physically painful at this point.

    I hope that the worthless panty-stain of a terrorist gets life without parole and I hope that Trump is fucking buried in lawsuits the moment he’s impeached. Other than that, I don’t have the energy to hate more than I already do, because the President is literally a fucking Nazi and my country is being taken over by the ultimate fucking evil.

  70. Formerly just Craig: as I seem to keep saying, we’ve already got Pence. I find it impossible to imagine that Trump is any protection from Pence. More of a smokescreen.

  71. [Deleted because, hey, remember how I said pushing a bullshit equivalency argument is not gonna fly? Yes that — JS]

  72. It doesn’t help to impeach the spokesman for the morally weak and stupid bunch when the morally weak and stupid have voting advantages. As HelenS and others above mention, there’s a long line of less stupid, more evil thugs in the wings, eager to take the seat.

    I had really hoped that with Obama taking office, America was finally showing the door to small-minded and racist views but having such evil views roar back so forcefully has really shaken me. It’s not ‘my fellow Americans’ anymore, but ‘fuck you guys, keep your shitty views out of my neighborhood’ and that in itself saddens and depresses me.

    And that regretful comment above about Nazi’s having free speech? Yea, in theory I’ll buy that, but in practice, with guns and torches and denigration of others? Fuck. No. That is incitement to riot and they sure as fuck don’t have that right. Put them in jail and let them rot.

  73. @timrowledge, I agree that it sounds very scripted. It doesn’t sound like the usual crap that comes out of his mouth when it off the cuff.

    I was not familiar with the “cherish our history” connotation myself until I had time to read the linked article just now. That is very worrying if true, but then it also so I sounds a bit far fetched to me like all the pizza gate links the far right was trying to make.

    I’ll definitely need to read up more on that before making a final decision.

  74. [Deleted because using shitty reasoning to call someone a holocaust denier doesn’t fly here. Doc Stat, your spittle-flinging act is tiring, and you managed to rack up three strikes on a single comment thread. Welcome to moderation for the foreseeable future. Deal with your obvious anger issues somewhere other than here, please — JS]

  75. As HelenS and others above mention, there’s a long line of less stupid, more evil thugs in the wings, eager to take the seat.

    I do not, of course, deny the truth of the above, but it wasn’t what I said.

  76. After that delightful spate of deleted posts, I’m going to go ahead and close of the comments while I sleep. They’ll be back on in the morning. Night!

    Update: Comments back on.

  77. When you make Ted Cruz and Jeff Sessions look good (by comparison), is there anything else we need to say?

  78. I only read the first, and boy howdy was it foolish. I was wondering if they would get malleted or kittened. Now I know.

  79. John A:

    I agree that it sounds very scripted. It doesn’t sound like the usual crap that comes out of his mouth when it off the cuff.

    Leaks are that the staff spent hours trying to draft some response that POTUS would accept, and the result was the pablum you note — pretty decent attempt to say very little but slightly leaning decent. He dutifully read it as written, then ad libed the “many sides” — twice. So much for decent.

    In other words, given a limp but vaguely humane statement, he just couldn’t.

  80. Jeff M: hold off on Jefferson Beauregard. He hasn’t weighed in directly, but Pence dropped some pretty strong hints that the “Justice” Department will be prosecuting the antifa.

  81. It took me a few moments to figure out what “antifa” referred to once I started seeing nazis and other white nationalists referring to it in twitter. Might I suggest that people who are against fascism refer to “antifa” as “the anti-fascist movement”? Seems to me like fascists have taken over its branding to make it sound scary, foreign, and violent.

  82. Current theory: assuming that the President’s primary success metric is “number of media mentions”, then his first response was a success. The moral shambles is the utter amorality and cynicism of the guy, willing to leverage anything for attention and publicity. Talk about the banality of evil…
    – Look, a fascist protest and terrorist murder of an innocent civilian is now another story about Trump
    – He subtly encourages his “base” while providing ammo to his opponents (who oppose him anyway, so no net loss)
    – Opponents keep Trump at the center of the news cycle for another round by talking about his response instead of the events in Charlottesville
    – Trump and his team now get another round of counter-attack (and more headlines)
    – Bonus: Ivanka has an opportunity to build her “I’m a moderating influence” brand by making a statement against the protesters

  83. @Scalzi — I think we don’t disagree too much.

    I do get that part of what makes our democratic rule of law, and peaceful government, work, is to respect the elected government, even if it’s not the person I voted for. But a reminder of why we respect that from you is not a bad thing. I agree, I needed it.

    My objection was more that I’d object to the “My country, right or wrong” sentiment. It is indeed my country, even if it does wrong things. However, when it does wrong things, it’s our responsibility as citizens to stand up and speak out for what’s right and to elect people and vote for processes that won’t make those mistakes again. — And I think you agree with that. I’ve seen plenty from you that says I like where you stand on things, pretty much whether we agree or disagree; I can live with that.

    I really loved your comparison of it to, “my ingrown nose hair.” Haha, yeah, OK, in that light, I can see what you’re saying regarding, “my president,” without, yes, a positive association implied.

    John, one of the reasons I read your blog is, I like and respect what you have to say and how you say it. You make me think, both when I agree with you and when I don’t.

    On reflection, I think I was splitting that nose hair a bit too fine.

    I’m still appalled by how things are going. I still want Mr. Trump to be impeached; overdue. And I’m very, very disturbed by things like what happened in Charlottesville. On that, I think we agree.

    On reflection, I also think I didn’t need to address you, John, personally on this. I wasn’t seriously angry or even overly miffed, but still, my bad. I’m sorry for doing so.

    Hey, try to enjoy the day despite the news.

    (I am still in favor of locking Trump and Kim Jong-Un in a room to “negotiate,” and not letting them out. Let them eat cake and discover how much they love/hate each other. Let both countries elect new leaders. A precedent for their side, a usual thing for our side. It’d be way cheaper and safer for both countries. — Kidding, but kidding on the square.)

    I am going to do something apolitical: work on font designs or draw or write.

    Man, I wish things would hurry up and get better. This still feels like one of those “dystopian alternate universe” episodes where our heroes know the instant they land that something’s gone wrong with the timeline. Oh, if only it were that easy. (Seriously, as a writing trope, how would anyone know, if/when they are caught up in it, until it becomes obvious?)

  84. @Ray Balance

    Yes, actually! If you’re asked your opinion of a Nazi rally–or, as President, you are expected to give a statement on said Nazi rally–and you repeatedly fail to condemn it, you are in fact allying yourself with Nazis. I mean, how do you get from ‘White supremacists held a rally where multiple people were injured and one person was killed’ to ‘well gosh golly gee, you know, both sides are equally bad, let’s please take some time to focus on how bad liberals are, too.’

    That kind of false equivalency is moral cowardice at best.

  85. Good post John. Yes, saying Nazis and white supremacists are evil should be the lowest bar imaginable. Trump lies about everything. That he can’t bring himself to say the simple phrase “Nazis are evil” speaks volumes about where he stands.

  86. The more you think about this the more appalling it is. Because it is not just that the President has chosen not to condemn this (which would be bad enough), but he deliberately used his willingness not to condemn white supremacy and the KKK in his effort to win the Republican primary. And that effort was successful. And America elected him anyway.

    And it is not just that he refuses to condemn violence by his supporters (and yes, it is pretty clear that these are among his supporters), but he has actively encouraged it on multiple occasions. And…he was elected anyway.

    One consequence of it being so appalling is that it’s tempting not to think about this: it is depressing and I/we can’t do much about this anyway especially in the short term.

    That temptation needs to be resisted. Evil needs to be condemned and those who support it, overtly or covertly, need to be called on it.

  87. “We love _our_ country, we love _our_ God, we love _our_ flag, we’re proud of _our_ country,”

    And he really thinks you still have to search for what the F* is wrong with certain people in America?
    I’d say the first and foremost problem is, as usual, the man on top who manages to still be fircely nationalist after a terror attack by some damn nationalist nut case.

    Just my 2 cents.

  88. From the SPLC PDF on how to deal with these f*kers:

    ABOVE ALL, AVOID CONFRONTATION WITH THE ALTRIGHT
    SPEAKER AND SUPPORTERS. The alt-right
    thrives on hostility, and hate feeds on crowds. Video
    footage of an altercation will only provide cover for
    the speaker, who can claim to be a victim. As hard
    as it may be to resist yelling at alt-right speakers, do
    not confront them. Do not debate them. Do not resort
    to violence, in speech or deed. As this publication
    makes clear, there are many other ways to challenge
    the beliefs of this movement.

    I think it’s excellent advice.

  89. I’m far past expecting Trump to denounce neo-Nazis and white supremacists. I’m already worrying that the day will come when he moves past dog whistles and openly exhorts them to commit violence and terrorism on his behalf.

  90. Trump just denounced the neo-nazis, white supremacists, etc. in a televised statement from the white house. So this topic is now moot I should think.

  91. @Gary Willis: It is not remotely moot. The fact that, eventually, there was enough pressure from parts of the Republican party to make it politically imperative to issue an unequivocal condemnation is undoubtedly positive – but in no way excuses the failure to do earlier and in no way diminishes the message of acceptance that Trump conveyed to his white supremacist supporters. (And, to avoid the obvious here: (i) not all Trump supporters are white supremacists, neo-Nazis or racists; and (ii) not all white supremacists, neo-Nazis or racists are Trump supporters; but there is significant overlap and Trump clearly welcomes the support of such people.)

  92. He always has to be dragged kicking and screaming to do the right thing at last. That in itself tells you who and what he is.

  93. @Quill: “And, to avoid the obvious here: (i) not all Trump supporters are white supremacists, neo-Nazis or racists; and (ii) not all white supremacists, neo-Nazis or racists are Trump supporters; but there is significant overlap and Trump clearly welcomes the support of such people” Sorry, but I have to disagree with that: if someone, at this point is still a Trump supporter, he is certainly a neo-nazi racist, whether he admits or not. They are the same as all those “good Germans” that abetted Hitler.

  94. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that poc’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises people of color to wait until a “more convenient season.

    Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

  95. @Quill: Also, this condemnation was like when a five year old gets dragged to someone else’s house by their mom and told to apologize. You know he doesn’t actually mean it; it’s all going through the motions.

  96. @RSchiaffino – I certainly understand that position. However, I’d suggest four things for your consideration, in no particular order:

    1. My personal experience of Trump supporters convinces me that some of them are neither racists white supremacists nor neo-Nazis based on the views they actually hold.
    2. There are people like Orrin Hatch whose condemnation of the racists and neo-Nazis was unequivocal. He is, by all relevant measures, a supporter of Donald Trump.
    3. People hold inconsistent views. Just as John Scalzi can support both the First Amendment right of Nazis to protest and the idea of Nazi-punching, people can support Trump and not be racists.
    4. To the extent we want his supporters to abandon Trump, this is more likely to be achieved by highlighting the fact that Trump is a supporter of racism and white supremacy and they are not, then lumping them all together as racists.

  97. Quill: “not all Trump supporters are white supremacists, neo-Nazis or racists” [citation needed]

    The washington post reported just before the election polls showed that half of trump supporters are racist.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/clinton-wasnt-wrong-about-the-deplorables-among-trumps-supporters/2016/09/12/93720264-7932-11e6-beac-57a4a412e93a_story.html

    Trumps approval rating is now at 30-something percent.

    I am going to assert that he kept the half of his voters who were racist, and lost the half who werent flaming bigots.

    So, yeah, if you support Trump at this point, you probably at least think the nazis in charlottesville didnt get a fair shake, if not outright think whites in america are persecuted.

  98. By the way, if you think affirmative action is persecuting whites, then you are a racist, and that right defines the trump administration.

  99. @Greg I’m not sure this math works. Trump got 46.5% of the vote. Assume half of Trump’s supporters were racist. (That is about 23% of the polity being overtly racist.) I believe the last poll I saw from Gallup put Trump’s support at 34%, which is about 75% of 46.5. That would imply that about a bit less than one third of current Trump supporters are not racist, while a bit more than two thirds are (as half is 2/3 of 3/4).

  100. @Gary Since he had to be forced into making a grudging second statement two days later, no, the topic is not moot.

  101. Trump supporters need to make up their own damn minds about what they are willing to support and what they oppose. They presumably have their own free will. Choosing to do nothing IS making a choice.

  102. @Gary: John’s own Cinemax Theory of Racism applies here. To quote:

    Now, to bring that analogy back to the point at hand. This election, you had two major Presidential providers. One offered you the Stronger Together plan, and the other offered you the Make America Great Again plan. You chose the Make America Great Again plan. The thing is, the Make America Great Again has in its package active, institutionalized racism (also active, institutionalized sexism. And as it happens, active, institutionalized homophobia). And you know it does, because the people who bundled up the Make America Great Again package not only told you it was there, they made it one of the plan’s big selling points.

    And you voted for it anyway.

    So did you vote for racism?

    You sure did.

  103. @Kathryne – I’ve read that essay. And, I would suggest, it posits a level of consistency that our host does not apply to himself (see the link in Note 3), nor one that reflects how most people view the world and act in it.

  104. Quill: “Trump got 46.5% of the vote. Assume half of Trump’s supporters ”

    For one, being a Trump supporter today has nothing to do with whether a person actually voted for Trump last year. youre mangling units.

    “while a bit more than two thirds [of Trump supporters] are [racist]”

    So, I say all, you say 2/3rds. Either way, we should be able to make some statements in general about the sort of person who still to this day supports Trump. Odds are, they are bigots.

    “4. To the extent we want his supporters to abandon Trump, this is more likely to be achieved by highlighting the fact that Trump is a supporter of racism and white supremacy and they are not, then lumping them all together as racists”

    It seems you are agreeing with the general assesment that most trumpers at this point are bigots, but have confused the effectiveness of a fact in changing someones mind with whether that fact is true.

    I would say knowing that most trumpers are bigots would be important information in deciding how to change their mind. Or whether any form of perduasion would be effective. Denying a relevant fact only hinders effectiveness.

  105. I will re-blog this piece tomorrow. I’m finding it interesting (refreshing) that for the first time since I was a kid in college, the issue of “evil” has reared it’s ugly head. For years, when I suggested that something might be evil — in and of itself without needing toleration or politically correct reinterpretation — I got whacked. More or less as if I was from the dark ages and suggesting we throw witches in water to see if they float.

    Finally, today, I see a broad acceptance that evil IS. That it exists and that you can’t just “wait for it to go away by itself.” Sometimes, I wonder how many people can recognize evil when they see it — or if they see it as nothing more than a slight variation on a theme of the type of casual corporate corruption we shrug off as “the way things are.”

    Beautifully written, as always. And thank you.

  106. Someone wrote: “Might I suggest that people who are against fascism refer to “antifa” as “the anti-fascist movement”?”

    Antifa is the what this particular (loosely associated) group of anti-fascists refers to themselves as. Suggesting that they be referred to as “the anti-fascist movement” is like saying because you’re unfamiliar with the word Nazi you’d like to suggest that we refer to them as the “National Socialist movement” for clarity’s sake.

    There are many people who are against fascism. Antifa are those people who espouse violence and the use of black-bloc tactics as part of their methods.

    Here are two recent articles that explain who and what Antifa is:
    http://time.com/4899658/charlottesville-antifa-protests/
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-40930831

  107. “If he finally does get around to admitting that they are bad, he’ll do it in the same truculent, forced way that he used when he was forced to admit that yeah, sure, maybe Obama was born in the United States after all.” – JS

    And on the second day it came to pass.

  108. @Greg – I agree the units are somewhat different. Similarly, there is no basis for asserting as you did that the half of the supporters he kept are racists.

    What I think we both know is that a significant fraction of Trump supporters are racist. There is a significant difference, however, between concluding that a large percentage or even a majority of Trump supporters are racist and all are.

    As you suggest, I don’t think that the racist Trump supporters can likely be reached. However, I think that the significant fraction of his supporters who are not racist can be reached. And a President Trump with support in the low 20s is a far less dangerous situation than a President Trump with support in the mid-30s. So the reason I mention my point 4, is not because I confuse the facts with how I wish them to be, but because I think the facts are different and that has important implications for what is possible.

  109. I prefer at this point to avoid alt-right, neo-nazi, white nationalist, etc. Lets call them what they are today-

    Republicans.

    If the President who ran under their banner is a white nationalist. If their are many members of his administration who are “alt-right”, if you have Gorka who sports actual fascist medals. Yeah call a duck a duck.

    Republicans.

    I understand that this is the party that dog whistled and had a southern strategy for years. That ran a “war on drugs” with the express benefit of disenfranchising black men. That they gerrymander to limit the effect of minorities. That they have been against equality for the LGBT community. That they advocate for immigration from white European nations. This ain’t the democrats is it?

    I know, not all republicans….
    Sen Corey Gardner came out strongly in words, so did John McCain, even Paul Ryan looked woeful as always. But this is their party. These are the policies of that party. But they all look the other way, when the racist actions go through.

    The Party of Lincoln has long been infected with the rot of racism. It is platform and tenet of the actions of that party. It is why David Duke is proud of Trump, and that there were many “make America great again hats” in Charlottesville and elsewhere.

  110. Thank you for writing this, Mr. Scalzi. Would like to put an idea out there: Next time you go to an anti-Trump-related protest, wear something purple. That was Heather Heyer’s favorite color. If we all wear something purple, we carry her memory with us, and she can go to all the protests, everywhere.

  111. JReynolds
    For the record, I voted for Hillary Clinton and contributed $1,200 or so to her campaign. Why would you assume I voted for Trump just because I suggested the topic of this post is now “moot” since Trump has made (two days later) the very public denunciations so many have criticized him for not making two days ago? He denounced them today. So some folk don’t care for his timing two days later. Still, he made the denunciations. So he had lousy timing. He still denounces the various groups such as white-supremacists, neo-nazis, and the like.

    Frankly, I am just as pissed off at the vocal Trump-haters as I am at the neo-nazis, etc. We, as Americans, are NOT to be in the business of hating anyone, even when we vehemently disagree with them. Hate drags us down. Hate is not an emotion any one of us should allow into our lives, spirits, souls. Be civil. Do not hate Trump. Just oppose his wrongly thought out policies and support the ones that make sense (like China taking the lead to corral North Korea’s aggressive posturing as China has the clout to be successful at doing that.)

  112. Quill: “There is a significant difference, however, between concluding that a large percentage or even a majority of Trump supporters are racist and all are.”

    No. There isnt. And really, the only reason you keep saying that has nothing to do with demographics, and everything to do with what you helieve will be the most effective way to peel support away from Trump.

    Most Trump supporters at this point are bigots. You said 66%. That is “most”. The thing is, you arent debating the math to close the difference between 66% and 100%. You arent trying to locate where the math error is located to figure out the correct number. All you are trying to do is establish one fact: that “not all people supporting Trump are bigots”, because then you can use that as a wedge to insist we should never ever say “all” not because it is or is not accurate, but because you have asserted an unproven premise that some percentage of trump supporters would be persuaded to leave trump, but only if you dont call them a bigot.

    Do you understand the difference there? Its not a matter of mathematical accuracy. You assume one method of persuasion will be more effective than the other, but you have no evidence of that, and then you attack people who are looking at the math because it violates your unproven method pf persuasion. you dont want them to say the answer too loudly because a trumper might hear it. Not because it is true or false, but because you’ve assumed the truth might make persuasion less effective.

    Maybe there are trump supporters who have been in a fox news bubble and would be horrified if they saw what really happened in charlottesville, and would drop suport of trump if they saw the truth. I dont know. But the point is, if that were true, then it would go vounter to your assumption that the best method of persuasion is to avoid using the word bigot.

    I think a lot of what MLK did that worked was to use nonviolent protests on television to bait the bigots to use extreme force on little old black ladies, get indifferent americans to see it and be horrified bh it and get them off their damn asses.

    So maybe saying “only bigots support trump atthis point” would be more persuasive because maybe it would peel away the uninformed and casually indifferent, and if they heard/saw th truth they would be horrified.

    Its an unproven premise, i admit, but the thing is, your premise is unproven as well, but because you hold it to be true, you are trying to fudge data that violates it. You believe support3rs will leave trump only if no one calls them bigot, and so you are looking for whatever data will give you an exception to void generalizing statements about trumpers.

    You arent following the data to whereever it leads. You have an (unproven) idea and are looking for data or for a way to interpret the data that fits your idea and justifies it.

    Until you can see youve got an unproven idea about effective persuasion and until you can see you are only intersted in demographic data to the point that it supports your idea, we are going to talk in circles.

  113. Gary Willis: “Hate drags us down. Hate is not an emotion any one of us should allow into our lives, spirits, souls. Be civil. Do not hate”

    ….

    “Frankly, I am just as pissed off at the vocal Trump-haters”

    You, sir, have a lot of gall.

  114. Gary Willis: Trump is always late doing “the right thing”, and he always has to be pushed to do it. He’s like a four-year-old who has to be made to say “I’m sorry”, and it’s always evident he doesn’t mean it. He gets no credit for saying the right thing far too late — especially when it routinely takes him mere seconds to say the wrong thing.

  115. Well, from over the pond here in Europe, I see that Peter Cvjetanovic, one of the Neo-Nazis at Charlottesville, claims that he is defending European culture. For the avoidance of all possible doubt, no, he isn’t.

    Unless he thinks European culture means that of Adolf Hitler, and it doesn’t.

    He also says he didn’t realise that so many people would see his photo; now that one I do believe…

  116. Greg
    I said I was pissed off at the Trump-haters, not that I hated them. I simply think the emotional energy to hate any other human being is a true sad waste and enriches no one.

  117. Gary: “I said I was pissed off at the Trump-haters, not that I hated them. ”

    Ah, so, you’re like the Goldilocks of perfectly calibrated emotions: the proper amount of righteously deserved anger so as to avoid appearing too complacent, without overdoing it into hate which enrichens no one. And judgemental of anyone not in your exact emotional state.

    So you’ve got that going for you.

  118. Ok, Host is a bit unsure of our Ally Status because we’re processing this all from a different angle (and one, while one doesn’t like to say “The Polar Bears and Orcas warned you too” that’s been trying to get y’all focused for a while now)

    But, ok, y’all still like this:

    and

    And you need to be all like this:

    Just know this thing: it’s all a “lay-up” for 2020. Watch out for the Young Blairite / Trudeau grin and slick Willy ethos who will protect your liberal ideals from the scummy fascist chique.

    It’s a set-up.

    p.s
    It’s really cute Americans not knowing what Antifa is, esp. given their… well. Let’s call it “Rather Militarized Society”. Hint: No, you don’t know.

  119. OK, I’m old enough to have read a good bit of Campbell’s Analog in real time. The rest I read while wasting time I could have been studying while I was UofA [1]. Whatever …

    Campbell was far from uniformly good as an editorialist, but of all that he wrote the one I remember fifty years later was on the value of hate. His point, condensed, was that while other European and world leaders disapproved of Hitler, disparaged Hitler, warned about Hitler, there was one — Churchill — who actively, passionately, and to the bone HATED Hitler. Which, all in all, was a good thing for us all because sometimes for all of the harm that hate does in the world there are, truly if not often, evils for which moderation is not a suitable response. Evils for which the proper response is nothing short of hatred.

    By all means be selective, by all means do not hate lightly. But never doubt that there truly are times which call for nothing short of hate, too.

    [1] And — neener, neener — I still have a nearly complete collection from before I was born to when Ben Bova wrecked the mag after his death.

  120. @realDonaldTrump tweeted at 4:20 pm MDT:
    “Made additional remarks on Charlottesville and realize once again that the #Fake News Media will never be satisfied…truly bad people!”

    So, Gary, given that the president has elected to maintain the posture of a sullen adolescent being made to apologize to the neighbor whose house he TP’d… not really moot at all.

  121. docrocketscience
    I’m thinking moot because the man did what everyone criticised him for not doing Saturday–denounce the various hate groups by name, which he did today. Talking about the two day delay and calling him names (sullen adolescent) really serve no useful purpose but to reflect badly on Trump’s critics. And hey, I voted for Clinton; I am just truly tired of six months of this onslaught and crusade against Trump. Be a critic of Trump. Oppose his policies. But the name calling happening daily in broadcast and social media isn’t even adolescent, being more the tantrum like behavior of very young children. Grow up! I want to say to all the Trump critics/haters. What you are doing in Trump’s regard lowers you to his level, if not much lower.

  122. @Gary Willis.

    In this case the Trump-haters didn’t drive a car through the racist’s demonstration killing one and injuring, some seriously, 19 others. The Trump-haters have not have not advocated for, nor aligned themselves with people who committed genocide. Not murder of a few, genocide of millions.

    I don’t think we need to go over the numbers of dead at Nazi hands in world war 2, and I hate, because of Godwin’s law, to bring up Hitler. But, let’s face the fact Trump supporters have already gone there…and not in trying to demonize their opponents but they do by saying- Hitler, He was one of the good guys. He is who we look up to.

    Frankly, if you are, as you stated, “just as pissed off at the vocal Trump-haters as I am at the Neo-Nazis”, I would seriously recommend what you considered to be equivalent. It just doesn’t quite reasonably stand.

    I am not saying that you should hate, but I am saying that they are quantifiably different in type and scale. That a Kumbaya and “let’s all get along” at this moment denies a very real and appropriate desire for justice and culpability to be assessed. That to show respect for the life lost, demands that. That love for her family and those who were injured demands that.

    Take some time to hate the sins, in measure, as well as love the sinners.

  123. Monday’s reluctant statement by the President – too little, too late.
    But I find Monday’s statement by Richard Spencer interesting. Hopefully this feeling he is claiming to be experiencing for the first time will only deepen and be ever more frequent…
    “I have never felt like the government or police were against me,” said white nationalist leader Richard Spencer at a small news conference inside his home here on Monday afternoon. “There has never been a situation in my life when I’ve felt this way.”

  124. I’m just gobsmacked that when Neo-Nazis march to protest removal of a Confederacy memorial, the US president gives a speech in which he talks about how important it is that Americans “cherish our history”.

  125. Gary: “calling him names (sullen adolescent) really serve no useful purpose but to reflect badly on Trump’s critics” … “the tantrum like behavior of very young children. Grow up!”

    It’s interesting that you don’t think this name calling reflects badly on you. Especially after preaching from the mountaintop about not name-calling Trump.

    But given this is right after you preached that “Hate is not an emotion any one of us should allow into our lives, spirits, souls” but apparently you venting anger (being pissed) at us is ok, I guess its not too surprising.

    ” I am ***just as pissed off*** at the vocal Trump-haters ***as I am*** at the neo-nazis,”

    Oh, sweetie, Trump-haters haven’t been running around with assault rifles and riot shields, committing murder. That feeling of superiority you keep lording over everyone? That’s just a horribly calibrated moral caliper incapable of differentiating between murder and verbal insults. They’re not the same. Not even close.

    You’ve taken the concept of Aristotle’s golden mean and completely buggered the scale. To you, Nazi’s are -1, anti-nazis are +1, and you, your holy worship, somehow think you found the mountaintop at zero.

    No. Not even close.

    It’s more like murder is -100, “neener neener” is +5, and you stroll in and preach moral superiority from -48. And then because you’ve declared yourself the finder of the good, you can do no wrong, which then allows you to tell us not to get emotional at trump while you get pissed at us, and to tell us not to call trump names while you call us children throwing a tantrum who need to grow up. And you do all this without even a hint of irony.

    You’re blatant hypocrisy while claiming righteous superiority based on a moral scale completely lacking perspective, is just astounding.

    Really, its impressive.

  126. When Mr Trump was elected, my first thought was: how did this happen? The Americans must be smarter than that. How could they elect someone like him? Since then the U.S. as a country is going down in the eyes of many people I talked with. So I appreciate clear voices like yours, John. Some people over there still got the brain.

  127. The perspective of someone who lives where things haven’t spiralled down to the level that the US is now at:

    When looking at history it’s not uncommon to wonder what you would have done had you been there. Of course it’s impossible to know for sure. Would you have had the courage say no when they came to burn your neighbour for supposedly being a witch? Or fought to free slaves, or even merely voted to give women suffrage? In a different time you’d have been a different person.

    But today, right now, you know how the current you responds to historical events. The English speaking world is seeing a groundswell of violent far-right beliefs. Or more accurately, those beliefs are now being given voice where previously they didn’t dare.

    We’re not 1930’s Germany; we have the luxury of that example to draw from. But make no mistake, the insular, violent bigotry is the same. And it must be opposed loudly, publicly, and consistently.

    The government is obliged, and rightly so, to allow people to say whatever they want. But you are under no such obligation. Freedom of speech is not freedom from the consequences of that speech. Making it uncomfortable for bigotry to be expressed in social situations is better than having to shout it down in a public forum. And shouting it down is better than having to defeat the bigots with physical force. Start now and maybe this won’t escalate to the point of war.

    Yes, I’m serious about that, and no, I don’t think it’s hyperbole.

    It starts with words, progresses to the small scale violence of fists and sticks, and grows into cars driven through crowds, and grows again, and again, and again until the world burns. But only if we let it.

    Who are you?

    What do you believe?

    What will you do?

    This is history, time to choose.

  128. @Gary Willis;

    Talking about the two day delay and calling him names (sullen adolescent) really serve no useful purpose but to reflect badly on Trump’s critics.

    I hope all that posturing on the moral not-as-high-as-you-think ground isn’t giving you a nosebleed, but here’s a dispatch from down here on Planet Earth.

    I have precisely zero fucks to give about your Miss Manners routine when it took the President of the United States two days of public criticism (including from an ever growing list of senior members of his own party) to choke out a basic, grudging acknowledgement that Heather Heyer was not murdered by “many sides” — as if she was tag-teamed to death by evil cars from a Stephen King story.

    And I’m sorry if Donald Trump and his courtiers have just realised that arse-kissing on demand isn’t in the job description of the most scrutinized and criticized political office on Earth, but nobody forced him into the White House at gun point. If this fragile snowflake is feeling triggered, he can hand in his resignation and retreat to his gold-plated safe space in Trump Tower. I won’t cry to see him go.

    Here’s another modest propsal for you, Gary. I expect children of my acquaintance to be fully accountable for their words and actions. I expect them to accept that they will face criticism in life — both fair and unfair, sometime harsh — and they just have to suck it up with some grace and dignity. I say what I mean, mean what I say, and expect the courtesy to be fully repaid. Reality is not optional and matters of fact are not open to debate.

    I will not lower those bars for any adult, even if they’re rich entitled politicians with the moral intelligence of a pudding cup. And if you don’t like my tone while doing it? Guess which finger I’m rigidly extending in your general direction.

  129. “His point, condensed, was that while other European and world leaders disapproved of Hitler, disparaged Hitler, warned about Hitler, there was one — Churchill — who actively, passionately, and to the bone HATED Hitler. Which, all in all, was a good thing for us all because sometimes for all of the harm that hate does in the world there are, truly if not often, evils for which moderation is not a suitable response. Evils for which the proper response is nothing short of hatred.”

    CS Lewis wrote something similar in “Perelandra”:
    “The joy came from finding at last what hatred was made for. As a boy with an axe rejoices on finding a tree, or a boy with a box of coloured chalks rejoices on finding a pile of perfectly white paper, so he rejoiced in the perfect congruity between his emotion and its object.”

  130. Just for the record, the original quotation was something like: “My country, right or wrong: when right, to be kept right, when wrong to be put right”. Political conservatives latched onto the first five words like they latched onto the title of ‘Born in the U.S.A.’, for example, without noticing the rest.

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