Omission Hurts

I think that the editors of the Chicago Tribune have it about right on the riot in Charlottesville and President Trump’s reaction to it:

Trump can’t be blamed for the rioting in Virginia. But the haters and stooges of white nationalism see something in the president that gives them permission to act out. Trump is no oratory giant. He’s a sloppy speaker whose nasty streak on the campaign trail acted as a dog whistle to the ugly right. Whether by design or carelessness, Trump avoided calling out the haters by name Saturday. That omission hurts.

He was right, though, to say that Saturday’s tragedy should be seen as a starting point for reflection. “We want to get the situation straightened out in Charlottesville, and we want to study it,” he said. “And we want to see what we’re doing wrong as a country, where things like this can happen.”

Whatever one may think of it the United States will be decreasingly a Western European-descended, Christian country than it has been for its history. We will either come to terms not just with that reality but with that history or we will tear ourselves apart. If you can’t love a country whose history is at times unlovely, there is no country that you can love. Living in a country whose history you can’t bear to look at and that you are unable to love doesn’t sound like a winning formula to me.

9 comments… add one
  • steve

    Trump certainly brought out whites as victims into the public view. I don’t think he caused this, but tapped into it and encouraged it. This was helped by his focusing on foreigners and other racial/religious/ethnic groups as the source of our domestic problems. Given his childhood experience, I wouldn’t rule out his being racist himself, but I doubt it. I think he is mostly just willing to use it as a means towards his ends.

    By any reasonable objective measurement, whites and Christians still have it better than everyone else in the country. It’s just not as good as it used to be in many ways, especially for males. Trump identified this, then gave them someone to blame. What still strikes me as funny is that they think he actually cares about them. Just another limousine conservative.

    Steve

  • CuriousOnlooker

    I don’t get this identification with the southern cause. Robert Lee may have been an honorable man, but he served for a unjust, immoral and illegal cause – and the south lost, nothing romantic about losing.

  • PD Shaw

    @CuriosOnlooker, after the Civil War there was a fairly broad effort to not vilify the other side for the sake of reconciliation. This was largely mediated through soldier’s memorials and blue-grey ceremonies of remembrance. Lee became the symbol of the honorable soldier, and a lot of people appreciated that he capitulated.

    (Not that I buy into all of the Lee narrative, but the important thing is that 150 years ago, many Union supporters did, and the positions that are being taken up today by opponents of statuary are not ones shared by most people fighting for the Union)

  • People really ought to read Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address and look within their own souls.

    I’ve mentioned it before but two of my great-great-grandfathers died in their 40s of conditions I believe were caused by their experiences fighting for the Union. As a kid my mother lived in a house that adjoined a park where a battle of the Civil War was fought. You could still see the bullet holes in buildings and fence posts. The house she lived in for 50 years, until the time of her death, was in walking distance of another Civil War battle. The War should not be expunged but remembered.

  • CuriousOnlooker

    Sorry if my comment was insensitive. But I am thinking of the white nationalists latching on to the confederacy – it is hard to defend what they associate or identify with.

    My other thought was the post believed something that is shared by both the anti/pro statue folks; a view of the future that America’s future will be an America transformed – for some that means it’s okay to destroy the “irrelevant” past, for others it causes fear and a wish for an imagined past. But the future is not set, demography is destiny, but people control demography (and more important, how they identify themselves) and the role of Western European thought and Christianity in this country may follow different trends.

  • CuriousOnlooker

    And I want to be clear I think the organizers of the original rally were trying to stroke fear to those vulnerable to the idea a future America has no place for them.

    Which is a different purpose then people who are thinking of rememberance and reconciliation.

  • I’m finding it difficult to express what I think about this. My thoughts are a jumble of Orwell and Terence and Faulkner.

    My point in relating the family history is this. I think that white supremacists are vile dolts. But to me trying to excise the bad parts of American history is like cutting off my own arm.

  • gray shambler

    My ancestors arrived in the 1880’s so I have no dog in the civil war battle, but I know that a people and culture know when they are under attack. First they cut the “Dukes of Hazard”, now confederate leaders memorials. What’s next? NASCAR?
    And the ” white privilege” business, yes I follow the logic but it’s hard to swallow that YOU are the oppressor when you are working class poor.
    Having said that, if anyone wants to DEMONSTRATE White superiority,do it by the way you live your life, the way you conduct yourself. Not rising to the bait with torches and anger.

  • TastyBits

    Let me get this straight. A few words are standing between President Trump being unsuitable and suitable. So, all the Trump-haters, #NeverTrumpeteers, and the other various Trump detractors are just waiting for him to utter a few words.

    Give me a f*cking break. It does not matter what he says. ‘Haters gotta hate.’

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