Opinion: What Trump didn’t say is eloquent

(AP)

UPDATE at 12:50 p.m.: In brief comments Monday, reading from a script, Trump finally did condemn, by name, Nazis and white supremacists. His remarks lacked the Trumpian flair, and they also lacked a repudiation of support from racists who have pledged their support to him. But he did dutifully recite the words that he was given to say.

That’s important, even if it wasn’t heartfelt. It’s important because with that statement, the bully Trump caved to public shaming and his worst supporters witnessed him doing it, on a cause they care about. As long as he got away with it, as long as he successfully flouted standards of decency and acceptable public discourse, particularly on matters of race, they had cause to think that they could get away with it too. 

Well, they can’t. The battle is far from won, but this was a potential turning point.

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It may have dawned upon you by now that Donald Trump is not a shy man.

When he dislikes something, when someone has done something to earn his disfavor, he has no problem emphatically expressing those emotions in the strongest, most explicit terms possible. On Monday morning, for example, Merck CEO Ken Frazier announced that he had resigned from Trump’s manufacturing council in protest of the president’s hands-off approach to the Charlottesville violence.

Within minutes, Trump personally fired off a blistering attack.

At times, though, when he is forced to say things that he really, truly doesn’t want to say, we’ve seen another side of Trump. In those moments he is oddly subdued, barely concealing his resentment, speaking in a monotone. The seeming sincerity that he oozes on other occasions disappears. We saw that Trump in the campaign, when he was finally forced to admit that the racist birther campaign that he had fed and fostered for five years was in fact groundless. The words almost had to be dragged from his mouth.

“President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period,” he said, a total of 10 short words after five years of lies and attacks. “Now, we all want to get back to making America strong and great again.”

And as president, when asked for a yes or no answer — did Russia interfere on his behalf in the campaign? — the man who sees everything in stark terms of black and white retreated into doubt and uncertainty.

“I think it was Russia, and I think it could have been other people in other countries. Could have been a lot of people interfered,” he said. “I think it was Russia, but I think it was probably other people and/or countries. I see nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows. Nobody really knows for sure.”

That was also the Trump we saw Saturday, when forced by events and by his own staff to issue a statement about the horrendous events that had taken place in Charlottesville.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides … on many sides,” he said, stressing that phrase about “many sides.” Despite pleas from some on his staff, he made no mention of white nationalism, white supremacy or those who had paraded around with Nazi flags, chanting Nazi symbols.

As I noted over the weekend, when one of the parties involved in a dispute are neo-Nazis and white supremacists, there are not “many sides.” There are two sides, the right side and the wrong side. That’s particularly true when only one side, the side of the racists and Nazis, launch a murderous domestic terror attack.

Yet on Saturday, through Sunday, Trump could not bring himself to say that.

That reluctance was especially noteworthy given the inspiration that the so-called “white nationalists” claim to have taken from Trump’s rise to the presidency. Some at the torch-lit parade and rally wore MAGA hats. Others spoke openly of their support and affection for Trump. Nazi leader David Duke lauded the gathering of white supremacists and Nazis as a significant step “to fulfill the promises of Trump.” The man suspected of driving a car into a crowd and murdering Heather Heyer had posted Trump logos alongside Nazi symbols on his Facebook page. The man’s mother told the press that she thought that her son had gone to Virginia to attend a Trump rally.

Now, it is absolutely fair to argue that the affection and support might not necessarily flow both ways, and to suggest that Trump might indeed share the revulsion felt by many Americans to such a cause. If that’s the case, it should be easy to say so. A man as famously blunt as Trump should be famously blunt in saying so.

I don’t know about you, but if my own words and actions were somehow being cited as inspiration by Nazis and white supremacists, I would be horrified. I would do anything in my power to publicly separate myself from those causes, and I’d say it to every microphone and TV camera I could find. I’m sure that most decent Americans, put in that situation, would rush to do the same.

Earlier this summer, for example, a Bernie Sanders supporter attacked Republican congressmen at a baseball practice. A horrified Sanders immediately took to the floor of the Senate to issue a heartfelt condemnation, and to make it clear that nobody who resorted to violence had any place in his cause.

I have just been informed that the alleged shooter at the Republican baseball practice this morning is someone who apparently volunteered on my presidential campaign,” Sanders said. “I am sickened by this despicable act. Let me be as clear as I can be. Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.”

And as a reminder of the high stakes in this discussion, here’s a screengrab from a conversation Sunday at Breitbart, the alt-right website run by Steve Bannon before he was brought into the White House as senior advisor to Trump. I republish it here not because it is so unusual or startling, but because it is neither:

These are the forces that have taken solace from the rise of Trumpism, that see his success as their success, who see him as their leader as they attempt to “take the country back.” This is the product of decades of romanticizing and justifying violence as a legitimate political response through talk of “Second Amendment solutions.” In a nation where white men overwhelmingly dominate in business, government and earning power, this is what happens when less successful white men are told that they are the victims of a conspiracy and repression, and when it is suggested that they have the right to respond with armed violence.

This is the nonsense that a responsible leader would attempt to quash.

 

Reader Comments 0

2545 comments
Fan4500
Fan4500

 gotalife - "We should have deported the treasonous cowards after the civil war."

Fan - " Shouldn't they have returned the slaves back to their country after the war?"

Still waiting for an answer.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@Fan4500


"Shouldn't they have returned the slaves back to their country"


Who is they? The US government?


Guess its the choice of the slave whether they wanted to stay or go back

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

Lincoln was troubled on that but he was murdered in the midst of his thinking. Slaves were kidnapped so I'm sure they would have been OK with that. They missed their home. Would you want to go home if criminals kidnapped you?

Paul42
Paul42

@StraightNoChaser He's going for another participation trophy.

"Home" for many was here.  They were born here.  

All some people can do is ask questions, never offer solutions, which in our case is to vilify the white supremacists.

Fan4500
Fan4500

@McGarnagle @Fan4500 No, the slaves were "illegally" brought here. They were taken, kidnapped from their homes, their country. They should've been returned. Right?

Fan4500
Fan4500

@StraightNoChaser Absolutely. So, you believe all the slaves should've been returned to their homes, their country?

Fan4500
Fan4500

@Paul42 @StraightNoChaser Some were born here, not all.


P.S. I know this is a strange concept for you Paul, but points and lessons can be learned by posing questions and having the person learn from their own answers. It helps people understand. Does that help?

Paul42
Paul42

@Fan4500

That's just about all you do, Fan4500.  Nothing to offer anyone else on the forum.

You have something to contribute?  Go to the new sheets.  

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@Fan4500 @McGarnagle


If by return you mean trying to right the wrong that had been done then yes. that would be the right thing to do.  although by that time, some would have prefer to stay.

Fan4500
Fan4500

@McGarnagle @Fan4500 Slavery was not illegal then, plenty of Countries were participating. 

Did Our Country begin to believe it was wrong? Yes, but there was no law until the 13th Amendment which was preceded by the Emancipation Proclamation EO by the President.

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

If they wanted to, it should have been their choice. They were no longer property and had to do what someone told them which is why I'm sure the decision was not made for them.

honested
honested

I wish debbie dooley could have been on teevee.

When she's on the radio, you can't see the springs popping from her head.

Fan4500
Fan4500

@StraightNoChaser "They were and still are traitors"

And pardoned by the President.

If you don't like it, petition your Congressman to overturn the pardon and change the Law.

gotalife
gotalife

We should have deported the treasonous cowards after the civil war.

SFM_Scootter
SFM_Scootter

@gotalife treasonous yeah cowardly probably not. Would you be willing to take on the US Army? 

Fan4500
Fan4500

@gotalife How about it gotalife? Shouldn't they have returned the slaves back to their country after the war?

Infinite Hope
Infinite Hope

@gotalife  Well, they didn't.  They chose reconciliation, if they can suck it up certainly you can.  

TBS
TBS

It goes without saying but you do gooder libs need reminding more often than I should accommodate you but.......


It's heritage not hate!!!!!!!!!

gotalife
gotalife

It is very fitting that emails end the traitor trump.


Sweet karma for Hillary.

gotalife
gotalife

Six emails of the campaign offering to meet with the russian government.


Game over.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@gotalife


I thought Trump said that no communication with Russia ever took place.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@gotalife 

But...but...but..."what laws were broken?"

in 3...2...1....

Fan4500
Fan4500

@gotalife We have it now, not the Great Divider that we had the past 8 years.

One day you will see it.

honested
honested

@PaulinNH 

Too bad the planters still carried sufficient weight to inflict fear upon the southern populace for over 100 years.

gotalife
gotalife

We need to get our country back from unAmerican racists to get our country back on track to keep moving foward making progress.


Not complicated.

Fan4500
Fan4500

@gotalife We did, that's why we elected President Trump.

Get over it, the election is over.

Finn-McCool
Finn-McCool

62nd Pennsylvania Volunteers represent!

gotalife
gotalife

Great to see CEO's dumping trump.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@PaulinNH 

In some cases, the damage doesn't manifest until a day later