To borrow a phrase from the President’s own limited eloquence — Sad!
In another Twitter rant, Mr. Trump has tripled down, quadrupled down (haven’t we lost count by now) on his morally bankrupt false equivalence between not only Nazis, anti-Semites, other racists, and the counter-protesters. But he’s now equating the greatest band of traitors in American history with our Founding Fathers.
No, Robert E. Lee and George Washington are not in the same category. Go to Mt. Vernon and you will learn about a heroic but tragically flawed man who could not escape the deep prejudices of his time even as he wrestled with their moral injustices. Head to the monuments of the Confederacy and you will see only the exultations of those who sought to tear the United States asunder so they could keep in place a cruel bondage of their fellow human beings.
This could be a time for a reckoning with our history, but it seems that the only history Mr. Trump is interested in is revisionist sloganeering.
The United States abolished slavery, but at a great and bloody cost. We abolished legal segregation, also at great cost. I covered Klan rallies in the 1960s, and I have seen that hatred up close. It made my blood run cold, as a privileged, white Christian male. I could not imagine the terror it would strike in the peoples for which it was intended.
Even before this recent descent into Nazi and Klan rallies of heavily armed bigots, we had a long way to go on racial justice. Now it seems we are in danger of more bloodshed and open conflict. I have no doubt that the forces of good will win out, but at what cost?
The demons from our past have never been put to rest, but their destiny is for the trash heap of history. And all decent Americans should not only say that but act accordingly. The time for cheap words is over. The question is will Americans realize that a quick Twitter post won’t do. Will they stand up? Will they speak openly and honestly? Will they name names? We have a President openly waving the banner of The Lost Cause.
Many have died for the cause for justice. And so I end here with a quote from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. These were words that Republicans used to stand by and I hope they do again. Mr. Lincoln’s sentiments do not seem dated, but tragically of our moment:
“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
(From the Dan Rather Facebook page)