President Donald Trump lit every one of those torches in Charlottesville.
Yes, the white supremacists have always been with us. A parade of racist bigots is no surprise to anyone familiar with our history, especially those who have been the target of hatred and violence for centuries.
But when the mob of white men marched in Charlottesville carrying flaming torches Friday night shouting “Heil Trump” as the curtain-raiser for a day of violent clashes with counter-protesters that left three people dead, they showed the world that America is once again playing with fire.
And Trump was the one with the match.
The symbolism was not subtle. Torches, witch hunts, flaming crosses—they all stretch back to our country’s founding. All those white-power bros knew exactly the kind of fear they were trying to evoke, even if their tiki torches came from Home Depot’s end-of-the-season patio sale.
The Nazi and Confederate flags were equally chilling to the millions of Americans who lost relatives in the Holocaust, in the fight against Hitler or have vivid memories of relentless racial oppression, including lynchings, church bombings and assassinations at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan and other white power terrorists.
Now we’re live-streaming that very same hatred, while Trump looks the other way. It was 90 years ago that Fred Trump, Donald Trump’s father, was arrested for failing to disperse at a Ku Klux Klan rally in Queens that sounded a lot like the scene at Charlottesville.
Except today, there are no hoods.
Donald Trump gave everyone permission to take those hoods off with his winks, nods and refusal to take a moral stand on racial hatred and intimidation during his campaign and during the first six months of his presidency. He’d already spent years questioning the birthplace and legitimacy of President Barack Obama, the nation’s first black commander-in-chief. And the haters loved him for it.
On Saturday, the president stayed silent at his New Jersey golf club for hours, even as former KKK grand wizard David Duke declared Charlottesville a “turning point” for a movement that aims to “fulfill the promises of Donald Trump.”
First, he offered a vague tweet condeming hatred without any explicit reference to the hundreds of men, some wearing red Make America Great Again hats, who chanted “White lives matter,” “You will not replace us” and “Jews will not replace us.”
It wasn’t until a 20-year-old from Ohio plowed his car into a crowd of peaceful counter-demonstrators, injuring 19 and killing one woman, that Trump addressed the terrorist attack on his own soil.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides,” he said.
“There is only one side,” former Vice President Joe Biden succinctly replied on Twitter.
Trump is so afraid of offending his Tiki Tribe that he didn’t even own his flaccid statement with “I”.
On Sunday morning, his daughter Ivanka Trump finally called out the cancer that is at the heart of this domestic terrorism.
“There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis,” she tweeted.
She, however, is not the commander-in-chief.
We are the ones who have to extinguish the blaze our president sparked. Democrat, Republican, Independent, it doesn’t matter. Everyone must reject what’s been unleashed in this country. And that’s already happening.
Former Arkansas Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee, the father of Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, tweeted: ‘White supremacy’ crap is worst kind of racism-it’s EVIL and perversion of God’s truth to ever think our Creator values some above others.”
Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, agreed: “We should call evil by its name. My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.”
The torches in Charlottesville are a dangerous sideshow in America’s ongoing culture war.
We need to stop attributing the resurgence of racism to income inequality or job loss and stop tucking it into the great red vs. blue, progressive vs. conservativsm, urban vs. rural struggle that is at the heart of debate in our society.
The University of Virginia, where the white extremists marched with their lit torches, is the home of James Davison Hunter, the sociologist who helped define the contemporary American culture war. In 1992—as the American presidential election was rocked by the debate over a TV character’s single motherhood (Murphy Brown)—Hunter reminded us that these cultural skirmishes aren’t just rhetoric or “political froth.”
“Cumulatively, these disputes amount to a fundamental struggle over the ‘first principles’ of how we will order our life together,” Hunter wrote in The Washington Post. “Through these seemingly disparate issues we find ourselves, in other words, in a struggle to define ourselves as Americans and what kind of society we want to build and sustain.”
Yes, there are many sides in the culture war that the racists keep trying to hitch their flaming wagon to.
But this abomination that happened in Charlottesville over the weekend is not up for debate. It’s not a cultural take or a political platform. Racism, bigotry and terrorism in the name of white nationalism isn’t a “side.” It’s a poison.
And doing anything other than calling it what it is, defining it and snuffing it out is simply unAmerican.
We are the ones who have to extinguish the blaze our president sparked. Democrat, Republican, Independent, it doesn’t matter. Everyone must reject what’s been unleashed in this country.
This letter is to Rupert Mayor Michael Brown, City Administrator Kelly Anthon and council members: Todd McGhie, Craig Swensen, Tammy Jones, and Joel Heward.
The Rupert Senior Citizen Center does not have enough parking spaces. The spaces used for parking are always occupied during meal times.
We see on the east and west side of the center small parks that look nice but are not utilized. If they would like to go to a nice park, then should go to the town square and enjoy the park there.
By changing these areas to parking the city would not need to spend our maintenance department’s time and resources cutting grass and watering.
We really do need some of this space for parking.
A line of argument in politics in recent years, as in the great Lyndon Johnson books by Robert Caro, has held that the old saying is a little off: Power doesn’t so much corrupt, as it reveals. Power can make the doing of things easier and with less consequence, so we can see more clearly what lies underneath.
It turns out that a solar eclipse can do the same thing.
Friends of ours, who live in the upcoming eclipse totality zone, are hosting a couple of out-of-state eclipse-interested friends. (Our house, six miles away, is merely in 99.8 percent totality.) They’re not charging their friends any rent or room fee. As matters sit today, I call that a passed character test.
The eclipse, to be sure, is an understandable business opportunity, and there’s no harm and nothing immoral in taking some advantage of it. But at some point, somewhere along the line, it turns into greed, and totality areas all over the country have seen some ugly behavior and sad exposures of character.
There was, for example, the news story about a woman formerly from Idaho, now living near Washington, D.C., who booked an Idaho Falls hotel room back in October 2013. They had an agreement (for a fairly high room rate based on normal Idaho Falls levels). Some months ago the hotel said it wanted to raise the rate by $60; the couple reluctantly agreed. Then, earlier this month: “[The manager] started questioning us and telling us that our rate was way too low for this event and he wanted to raise our rates. My husband said, well you have already raised our rates once and we have a contract with you.”
That hotel in the news story now reportedly has rooms listed at $700 during the eclipse period. If you’re familiar with Idaho Falls lodging, you know this is not just a slight price increase. It is not even an outlier increase, or among the highest. Quite a few establishments regionally have been shooting far over $1,000 a night for rooms that ordinarily would rent for a tenth as much. (The Idaho attorney general’s office has fielded a number of complaints about room rentals.)
OK: Room rates are, as a normal and reasonable matter, marketplace-flexible. They vary with seasons and holidays and location popularity, and they can sometimes be negotiated by late arrivals (at places with plenty of empty rooms that same night) or by third-party deals. There’s nothing holy about a particular rate.
But when rates rise abruptly, even during times of high popularity, by factors of seven or 10 or more, you have to think something in the system, and in people’s willingness to simply take advantage of others and throw conventional rule books out the window, is wrong. There are human consequences. Good luck if you need to travel then for business, or visit a relative. Good luck if you’re not wealthy.
I don’t mean here to focus over-heavily on the lodging industry; lots of private homeowners are renting out their houses for a couple of days for almost unbelievable amounts. And I don’t mean to focus either just on rental rooms; the urge to suck up stray bucks seems to have become notably intense with this particular phase of the moon. (Airbnb reports an explosion of both requests for homes, and homes on offer.)
Consider what this kind of grasping reveals not only about our willingness to take advantage of others.
There are people in the totality zone who should, in bright light, take a good look in the mirror.