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White Nationalists Riot in Virginia – Where does President Trump Stand?

August 14, 2017
Plain English Version

Demonstrators in Charlottesville, VA. Credit Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress, via AP Images

America is the land of freedom of speech. The law protects rallies and marches by everyone. This includes white supremacists and neo-Nazis. The protection is in the First Amendment. It ensures the right to free speech. Rallies are as American as apple pie.

This right is a symbol of America. But it does have limitations. The most famous example is that you do not have the right to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater.

Free speech means peaceful assembly. Towns give permits if you are going to use public space for a rally or event.

But the keyword is peaceful.

There was a free speech event in Charlottesville, Virginia this past weekend. The event evolved into a riot. Three people died. America now has focused on what happened during the event. A permit allowed white supremacists and neo-Nazis to demonstrate.

Did the demonstrators intend to start a riot? They were there to oppose the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. Lee was the Confederate commander in the American Civil War.

The demonstrators came to cause trouble. They brought flags with swastikas, Confederate flags, and other racist and white supremacy symbols. There was no way they would not meet opponents of their views. There was no way the groups would not engage one another.

Politics is what happens next. The president says America protects free speech He says violence has no place in our country. He should have said racism; white supremacy and neo-Nazi beliefs have no place in our society.

That is a value judgment. Most Americans share that view. We fought the Civil War to end slavery. We fought against the Nazis in World War II. Hundreds of thousands of Americans lost their lives in these wars.

Instead, President Trump said that all the parties to the riot were at fault. He said that bigotry of all kinds was wrong. But he did not say racism and white supremacy were wrong.

Both Republicans and Democrats have condemned Trump for his remarks. White supremacists have a right to their views. But the president should have stated that their views are wrong. He should have said their views are un-American.

President Trump has not said that yet. Is the president sending a signal to his far-right-wing supporters? Some of these supporters are the ‘alt-right.’ But his reference was to all parties being “at fault” for the riots. Is the president implying that it is okay to be a racist and a white nationalist?

America may find out in the days ahead.

Resource: The New York Times August 13, 2017

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