On Sept. 29, U.S. President Donald Trump said he was “willing to do anything” to achieve peace and end the extreme violence between the left and right parties in cities that have become hotspots for protests and civil unrest.
He did no such thing.
Instead of condemning white supremacist groups like The Proud Boys, Trump issued a rallying cry to racists and domestic terrorists across the country when he told them to “stand back and stand by” at the first presidential debate.
Part of Trump’s appeal to his supporters is that his confidence is unwavering. Even against the worst odds, he remains unfazed and focused on getting his way.
Americans want strong leaders. Any sign of weakness or fear is a sign they are not equipped to protect this country. Trump can say or tweet he is confident that he will win, but this direct address to right-wing extremist groups was a clear indication of panic.
President Trump has made it clear that if he loses the upcoming election to former Vice President Joe Biden, he will stall the transition of power to contest Biden’s victory in the Supreme Court.
When Trump said “stand back and stand by,” it was a plea to white supremacist groups to pause their participation in violence and instigation until he needs their help in creating chaos if Biden defeats him.
It is troubling that his supporters and fellow politicians look past such abusive and dangerous behavior. People need to stop worrying about electing the person from their preferred political party and look at what is right and wrong instead.
We need more people like John McCain and Mitt Romney, who worry about respect and preserving the sanctity of this democracy.
In response to Trump’s statements about contesting the election results, Romney wrote on Twitter, “Fundamental to democracy is the peaceful transition of power; without that, there is Belarus. Any suggestion that a president might not respect this Constitutional guarantee is both unthinkable and unacceptable.”
Trump did something similar in August 2017. When reporters asked Trump if he would denounce the violence from neo-Nazis and white supremacists during the protests in Charlottesville, Va., in which one woman died, he refused. It should have been easy to say racism, violence, and murder have no place in this country. Instead, he blamed both sides for the fallout of that day.
“You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people on both sides,” said Trump, according to a transcript from Politifact.
According to Trump, not all racist and bigoted people are deplorable.
The primary organizer of that deadly Charlottesville protest, Jason Kessler, is a former Proud Boy.
The Proud Boys organization actively seeks conflict to engage in violence. They are vigilantes hoping to protect armed police forces against weaponless citizens.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, a Proud Boys member posted, “If any contact is made with you, that’s assault. If they take your hat, spray you with silly string, spit, push… It’s assault. We need to have all our guys there before we retaliate, though, if we can. The cops aren’t going to let us fight long. We need to inflict as much damage as possible in the time we have.”
Rather than distance himself from dangerous and fascist groups like the Proud Boys and make it clear his values don’t align with their ideology, Trump asked for their help, a favor in a sense, with an intentionally ambiguous statement. Instead, he blamed the entire left-wing for the problems plaguing cities like Portland and Kenosha.
While Trump lumped far-left extremist groups with everyone else on the left side of the political spectrum, nobody equated Republicans to far-right extremists; Trump did when he recognized them as allies instead of enemies.
Itzell Baez, who frequently protests in support of Black Lives Matter, believes Trump could not afford to lose the support from such a substantial base of his supporters. His reelection is not in the bag, and he has to hold on to every vote he can.
“Donald Trump was endorsed by David Duke. His main audience is white supremacists. He had his chance to condemn white supremacy, and he didn’t,” Baez said.
The president of the U.S. should not want the votes from such deplorable people. Hatred does not belong in this country, and groups like these seek conflict to inflict pain on others. Trump can shift the blame onto the opposite side of the aisle time and time again, but at the very least, even the ones that engage in violence, are fighting for something worthwhile. Shifting the blame to people who are seeking change will not overshadow the dangerous behavior exhibited by his loyal supporters.
Condemn violence on both ends. Implore peaceful protests that seek respect and equality for everyone. Do everything but order chauvinistic, xenophobic, and racist groups to wait for a signal to attack.
A civil war is coming, and Donald Trump will start it.