The old saying tells us that “You cannot have your cake and eat it, too.” There is wisdom in that saying, especially in the political world. Essentially, the idea that you can make a statement or take a policy position which accomplishes two opposing tasks is foolish on its very face. When a politician tries to appease two opposing groups, he will almost certainly end up incurring the wrath of both. If he is lucky, he may be able to keep the grudging support of one.
Donald Trump tried to prove the saying wrong. And failed.
In his statements about the tragedy in Charlottesville, he has refused to truly condemn those who are responsible for the death and multiple injuries caused by an act of clear hatred. Trump first spoke of racism generically. Then, he made mention of “Neo-Nazis” and others while still blaming some sort of “Alt-Left.” He has yet to turn around and say, “This so-called ‘Alt-Right’ is a stain on America and I want nothing to do with these people. If you are part of this political tumor growing in American society, I don’t want your support or your votes. Seek help. Seek Redemption. But don’t seek to be part of Team Trump or the GOP. You don’t belong here.”
Instead, he tries to conflate the issues of white-on-black racism and black-on-white racism. Yes, both are evil and both are to be condemned in no uncertain terms. However, they are not flip sides of the same coin. Their origins and goals are different and they must be treated as separate infections, both fought with everything we have but both attacked with the medicine appropriate to the particular parasite causing the disease.
For the past several years, Conservatives have been insisting that Democrats condemn and shun the “Black Lives Matter” movement which is clearly primarily responsible for the murders of so many police officers. And we were right to do so and to continue to do so, no question about it. BLM has been a prime source of vicious, irrational hatred in America since its inception.
At the same time, we must be cognizant of the fact that we cannot effectively continue to insist that BLM be condemned and sidelined by the Left if we excuse the actions of Alt-Right. If Black Lives Matter is responsible for the deaths of police officers – and they are – then Alt-Right is responsible for the death of a Liberal protester in Charlottesville.
We don’t get to blame the victim. Nobody does. We do not get to say that the Left is at fault for protesting in favor of a political goal they are trying to achieve. That is Free Speech. We can disagree with them, and we should. We can fight them on the political field of battle, and we should. We can make the point that revisionist history never serves to benefit society. What we cannot do is make the claim that by acting to advance a political goal, those on the other side earned an attack or deserved to be killed. Free Speech – whether we agree with the content or not – is never a legitimate basis for justifying acts of evil.
We would never accept the validity of such claims about police officers killed as a result of the rage engendered by BLM. When members of that so-called “movement” made such outrageous claims, we struck back immediately and with justifiable fervor. Now, we must be consistent and state in no uncertain terms that the desires of Liberals to achieve a political goal – outlandish and wrongheaded as they may be – cannot be a justification for driving a vehicle into a crowd of protesters. We are not Islamists. We are not BLM. We are not racebaiters who profit by the conflict between people of varying pigment levels.
We are Conservatives for whom FREEDOM is the primary concern, even the freedom of those who disagree with us and hate us. Because freedom is not conditional or earned through one’s political views. It applies to all, across the board.
We are Conservatives and we MUST be better than the other side. In all things. Descending into the mud and filth to wallow in hatred and violence along with our opponents cannot be deemed acceptable.
Voltaire is often quoted as having said, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Just as significantly, he declared that “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” That is freedom. Those who truly believe in freedom fight for the principle, not simply to defend those with whom they agree. Freedom is a principle which rises above the particulars of any given political issue or debate. Either we believe in it or we don’t. We cannot believe in it in one circumstance but not another. Then it isn’t freedom. Then it is a privilege afforded to one class or another.
No, we cannot condemn both generic “Neo-Nazis” while creating some “Alt-Left” to blame, as well. We cannot have our cake and eat it, too. In this instance, the President must demonstrate clear and unequivocal leadership. His condemnation must be for Alt-Right and it must be clear and unmistakable. He must turn his back on everyone who has ever been part of the sickness that is Alt-Right. He must stop Tweeting from those who are part of Alt-Right. He must make it clear that he wants nothing to do with them in any way.
We must be better. We must police not only those who are truly part of the Political Right but also those who falsely claim to be. And those who peddle hatred cannot be permitted to have any role Right of Center whatsoever. They must be obliterated as a source of political influence. We must be better than the Left.
We must be better. A Republican President must be better.