Donald Trump’s response to the alt-right/Nazi terrorist attack and resulting murder of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Va., was intended to keep his base from abandoning him, a portion of that base being ignorant, radical and violent. Trump is addicted to approval.
His response was diluted and insincere, including a repeated reference to other groups also deserving of blame, the speech then veering off topic and inappropriately peppered with phrases of self-aggrandizement. This was his followup to a tragedy that also included the deaths of two Virginia state policemen.
The fact that his actions continue to have support from a noticeable portion of the American population is unsettling. The First Amendment gives Nazis the right to march in the streets carrying swastika flags, but with that freedom comes a responsibility to act as an American before acting as a Nazi. World War II was fought for this purpose.
There have always been bullies and racists but they have not been encouraged to act openly. Under Trump they are.
Recently, in the Park Hills neighborhood of State College I saw a pickup truck with a Tennessee license plate and a Confederate flag displayed above the tailgate. The man stepping from the cab was working for a small Centre County landscaper mulching the planting beds. I stopped to ask the business owner why the Confederate flag? He grinned and said his employee’s flag has nothing to do with racism. It’s just a Southern flag. Nothing more.
Heather Heyer’s family would not agree.
John Ziegler, State College