SAN DIEGO – What’s convenient isn’t always fair and right.
I don’t like President Donald Trump. I don’t like racism. So it would be convenient to blame the former for the latter. But it wouldn’t be fair or right.
After white nationalists in Charlottesville, Va., sparked a racial melee that killed three and injured 19, the hyperbolic outcry on the left would make you think that Americans of different colors got along swimmingly before Trump came along.
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Haven’t the same people who are now criticizing Trump told us for decades that America is racist to the core and that we need an honest discussion about race? Well, pull up a chair. The conversation has begun.
And, since we’re so concerned with prejudice, can we spare a few words to confront how the media so often prejudges Trump? His critics never let up. They pick on him constantly, finding fault with every word and deed. They’re forever questioning his motives, sincerity and legitimacy. He can’t win.
Even for me, a Mexican-American O.N.T. – Original Never Trumper (raise your hand if he also called your immigrant grandfather a rapist and a criminal) – it gets old.
And confusing. On the one hand, Trump’s liberal critics think he is a bumbling dunderhead who can’t do anything right. On the other, they’re quick to give him credit for creating a scourge as powerful and cancerous as racism.
Imagine the damage this president could do if he were halfway competent.
Within minutes of the unrest, Trump’s critics took to social media to insist that he set the stage for the violence. Some insisted that a country racist enough to elect Trump was bound to explode. Others blamed Trump for bringing back racism.
I wasn’t aware it had ever disappeared.
Still, Democrats won’t let a crisis go to waste. So Michael Signer – the Democratic mayor of Charlottesville – was quick to lay blame for the unrest in his city “at the doorstep of the White House and the people around the president.”
Trump wasted no time in deploring the violence. On Saturday, hours after the worst of the chaos erupted, he said it had “no place in America” and condemned “in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”
It’s always the little things. It was the “on many sides” phrasing that got Trump in hot water. While counter-protesters clashed with white nationalists from the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party, those who see themselves as standing on the moral high ground will always resent being lumped together with the rabble.
Besides, as liberals see it, it’s OK to be intolerant toward the intolerant. You and your opponent might both bring weapons to a demonstration. But he’s a terrorist; you’re a freedom fighter.
Two days later, from the White House, Trump amplified his remarks. “Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
The critics still weren’t satisfied. Some of the same people who usually urge restraint when confronting acts of radical Islamic terrorism criticized Trump for being too restrained in condemning white supremacists.
See above: He can’t win.
The left-leaning media are fascinated by Trump’s reaction to Charlottesville because it gives them what liberals cherish most: a chance to batter Trump, and make themselves feel morally superior to both the president and his supporters.
Once again, the media are so tangled up in their own self-centered agenda of running Trump out of office that they are missing the real story. Here goes: Contrary to what you hear, what happened in Charlottesville wasn’t an expression of white people emboldened by Trump’s victory. It was the exact opposite.
White nationalists picked up tiki torches because they felt brushed aside by busybody city officials who want to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a public park.
It turns out that the politically correct mob won’t stop at banning Confederate flags. You give it a flag, it’ll take a statue, school or highway.
The protesters chanted, “You will not remove us.” That tells us they’re afraid that they – and their Civil War heroes – will be expunged from history. These people aren’t emboldened. They are weak, terrified and pathetic. They want to matter, and they’re worried they don’t.
Behold Trump’s real legacy. The carnival barker attracts those who have nothing, lures them into the tent by promising everything, and makes sure that – when the show is over – they leave with less than they had when they went in.
Ruben Navarrette’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.