Good news: as of this writing, Trump’s concern for the statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson being removed or vandalized from parks in the U.S. has been averted; that is, as long as we ignore the droppings of resident pigeons. More good news: the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which prohibits “abridging the freedom of speech,” is doing its job. Yes, it’s ugly and even scary to observe what some of our fellow Americans believe they should say or do in expressing themselves, but that is part and parcel—the risk and cost—of an essential element of freedom in America. Unfortunately, some folks missed the lesson that having a right does not make whatever one wants to say or do also right. The wannabe Nazis, KKK, and other cretin white supremacists in Charlottesville provided a disgusting and jarring spectacle that offends the hearts and minds of the vast majority of Americans, none more than a generation of Americans who risked their lives to defeat Hitler, or carried the heavy burden of bringing civil rights to a country that to this day struggles with the simple notion of fairness and equality. When the images of Charlottesville spread, which seemed like a colorized newsreel from the early 1960s, it felt like more than a half-century of progress in America suddenly dissolved.
In the aftermath, however, what is clear is that these events revealed more than they actually dissolved. As Michelle Obama said at the Democratic Convention in 2012, “Being president doesn’t change who you are, it reveals who you are.” And, the First Amendment has enabled our president to reveal, once again, that we made a terrible mistake in allowing his ascent to an office once held by Washington and Jefferson. Any remaining questions regarding Trump’s fitness to hold the office—at least among reasonable and moral Americans—were settled this week. He must go. Those who marched in Charlottesville waving Nazi flags and chanting, “Jews will not replace us,” must be similarly shamed, shunned, and hopefully rehabilitated. Being scared or fearful of them is unacceptable. They are the ones who are afraid; behind the veneer of hate lurks weakness and cowardice. The true patriots are those who marched against them; those who understand that fear has no place in the heart of a patriot.
This chapter in American history will, I hope, be over soon. Those rights of freedom we hold so dear will have, once again, allowed the country to move forward to assure that we all, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or origin, are deserving of admiration and respect.