Can 'very fine people' march with neo-Nazis?

Trump's inability to blame white supremacists could be the tipping point in his downfall.

August 16, 2017 14:55
2 minute read.
Members of the Ku Klux Klan face counter-protesters as they rally in support of Confederate monument

Members of the Ku Klux Klan face counter-protesters as they rally in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS / JONATHAN ERNST)


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Philip Roth, George Orwell and many other authors have touched on futuristic scenarios where the leader of the free world is no longer the champion of justice but instead opens the floodgates of racists, anti-Semites and Ku Klux Klan imbeciles.

Given every chance to prove that he is not that leader, US President Donald Trump has failed miserably.

By doubling down and creating equivalence between the white supremacist neo-Nazi marchers and the counterdemonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia, Trump is revealing one of two possibilities: he is either afraid to offend his political base by condemning the repugnant rabble that gathered in Charlottesville - ostensibly to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee but in actuality to denigrate Jews, blacks and other minorities – or a much more appalling possibility, he really doesn't understand that there is a difference between people who think like Nazis and people who try to stop them from spewing their hate.

Blame, he said at Trump Tower in New York on Tuesday night flanked by Jewish administration officials, Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, belonged on both sides.

"You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent," Trump said, referring to right- and left-wing protesters.

"Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch," Trump said of the participants in the deadly protest. "There was a group on this side. You can call them the left ... that came violently attacking the other group."

Trump also added of the neo-Nazis and white supremacists: "You also had people that were very fine people on both sides."

That may be true, but as soon as a very fine person walks step by step with someone carrying a Nazi flag or chanting, "We will not be replaced by Jews," they cease to be very fine.

Will Trump's indefensible statements made Tuesday night prove to be the tipping point and  convince the members of the Republican Party that he is not someone they should continue supporting as president?

Jews and blacks in America have endured prejudice and discrimination since the country's founding. The great steps forward made in the 20th Century have not blurred the fact that America is not devoid of racism by any means. It was there before Trump and will be there long after he is a grotesque footnote in the annals of American history.

America went to war against Nazi Germany and all it stood for, defeating Hitler and the Third Reich. By equating neo-Nazi thuggery and violence with those that attempt to smother the unbridled hate, Trump is turning his back on the ideals that have enabled Jews, blacks and all Americans to live their lives as equal partners in the American dream.

America is full of very fine people indeed. But they're not the ones Trump was referring to. They are the ones standing up to the white supremacists and shouting into their faces: "Never again."

As Israelis, we should be echoing those sentiments - from our prime minister on down.

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