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Dear Mr. President, Condemn The Alt-Right

It's Time To Act Presidential

Dear Mr. President, Condemn The Alt-Right

Watching the events in Charlottesville unfold, I've been trying to collect my thoughts. To try and say something worthwhile about the whole mess, even before someone decided to use their car to ram through a crowd of protesters. That it's come to this, in 2017 America, simply boggled my mind.

I recall saying a lot during last year's election cycle that what was happening was the emboldening of the more racist elements of American society. Many said such things but it tended to be taken as “Everyone voting for Trump is a racist”. That simply wasn't the case. I know people who voted for you because of the vision that you sold of an America in decline that he could, apparently single handily, raise up again. They didn't care for the man and some of those he inspired but you somehow spoke to them.

You also spoke to these people. The ones who marched in some of the same places I walked a dozen years ago with Tikki torches looking like a mob out of a horror movie. The ones who marched with Confederate battle flags and swastikas while wearing red hats with your campaign slogan written across them. The young man who drove all the way from Ohio so that he could ram his car through those whose ideology stood in stark contrast to his own.

Last night after dinner, I visited the Veterans Memorial in the city I live in. I stood for a long time in front of the World War II and Korean War portions of it, looking at the lists of those who didn't come home from those conflicts. I saw a wreath someone had laid at the foot of the Korean War portion and I wondered. I wondered what those listed upon those stones would have thought of the events in Virginia and the fact that Trump seems keen on Korean War 2.0 with potential nuclear weapons.

I then came home and read your non-statement on the whole affair. For a man known for taking sides, for condemning those you (often) view as being in the wrong, you took a decided non-stance. Even Republican members of Congress (whom admittedly you aren't necessarily a big fan of) called you out on it, asking why you couldn't call a spade a spade. I wondered the same thing myself if I'm honest. That was when I read a statement made by a white supremacist online who cheered the statement so many had criticized:

Screenshot of the statement, posted by the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect Facebook page on August 13, 2017.

“Trump comments were good. He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us.

He said that we need to study why people are so angry, and implied that there was hate… on both sides!

So he implied the antifa are haters.

There was virtually no counter-signaling of us at all.

He said he loves us all.

Also refused to answer a question about White Nationalists supporting him.

No condemnation at all.

When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room.

Really, really good.

God bless him.”

I fear you won't condemn because they are your base. Not the people with genuine hopes you would “Make America Great Again,” but the angry hordes who view anyone who isn't like them as their enemy and those of us who look like them but don't agree with them as traitors to their country and race.

I'll be fair to you, you didn't create this monster. What you did do was give it renewed power. You gave it an acceptable face and a new rallying cry every time you got crowds to shout “Build the wall!” or raved about how the “Deep state” was trying to stop you. Or when you told supporters at a rally to beat up protestors.

Mr. President, it's time for you to condemn these people. To distance yourself from them once and for all. Not because it's politically expedient, not because it might give you a bump in the approval ratings, but because it's what a President should do.

You wanted this job, spent three decades talking about it, and waiting for your moment. Now is the time to prove you deserved it. The ball is in your court, please do the right thing.

Matthew Kresal
Matthew Kresal
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Matthew Kresal

Matthew Kresal was born and raised in North Alabama though he never developed a Southern accent. His essays have been featured in numerous books and his first piece of fiction was published in the anthology Blood, Sweat, And Fears in 2016.

See all posts by Matthew Kresal