President 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 counterprotesters 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 or in the fight against Hitler, or those with vivid memories of relentless racial oppression, including lynchings, church bombings and assassinations at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist terrorists.
Now we’re live-streaming that very same hatred while Trump looks the other way. It was 90 years ago that Fred Trump, the president’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.
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