Yesterday I had a call from a reporter doing a story on Charlottesville who asked this question: “What will bring healing after Charlottesville?” It was an extended interview, but I know my answer included these words: “A critical part of the healing process will be ending white complacency about white supremacy.”
And so today I want to give a shout out to Donald Trump. Because today Donald Trump helped kill white complacency.
By doubling down on his statement that “there was blame on both sides” in the violent attacks of torch-bearing white supremacist thugs on the students, clergy and activists peacefully standing to defend the equal protection guaranteed all Americans by the Constitution, he ended once and for all the illusion that this is anything less than a fight for the soul of our democracy.
And by insisting that “there were very fine people on both sides” he gave aid and comfort to the forces of fascism and completely pulled the rug out from anyone left in this country who was complacent about the very real threat we face as a nation.
Because here’s the deal: The “liberty and justice for all” in our pledge of allegiance and the white supremacy in the streets of Charlottesville are mutually exclusive. We cannot be a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal if we fail to eradicate the toxin of white supremacy that infects our body politic.
There is no more room for denial. There is no more time for complacency. We are either part of the solution or we are part of the problem. And if we do not kill white complacency we cannot eradicate white supremacy.
Need an example of what white complacency looks like? Glad you asked. Derek Weimer was one of James Alex Fields Jr.’s high school teachers. In an AP interview after Fields intentionally drove his car into counter-protesters killing Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others, Weimer concluded by saying: “If you could just pull away from him those beliefs ― that dark Nazism and all that ― you’re looking at a pretty straight-laced, standard guy.”
No, just no. This is not a “standard guy.” This is a radicalized terrorist who used his car as a weapon of mass destruction to kill and maim in the service of an ideology of hatred, bigotry and violence. An ideology called white supremacy.
It is an ideology antithetical to the core values of the Constitution our commander in chief has sworn to protect against all enemies ― foreign and domestic. And today we watched him categorically violate that oath as he doubled down to give credibility to the white supremacists who would dismantle our democracy and bring torches of terror to our streets.
And if that doesn’t put a nail in the coffin of white complacency then shame on us.