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.
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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