What Trump Should Have Said
We’ve had some dark hours in this country. But the best part of being an American, is that we — more than any other country in this world — know how to pick ourselves back up. Yesterday, that’s what we yearned for. As we see photos of torches burning, as we hear hate speech, as we witness objects thrown and a car driven directly into a crowd of people, it was evident that it was not one of our proudest days as Americans. In that hour, we found ourselves searching for a message, bold words, a leader who would lift us off the ground, dust us off and remind us, maybe even sternly, that we are better than this.
But yesterday, we fell short.
We saw some strong blowback to the President’s response to the acts of racism and hate displayed in Charlottesville yesterday. It’s for many reasons. One of which is the standard to which we hold leaders in this nation.
Robert Kennedy, while notifying a crowd of MLK’s death, made an impassioned call for peace and unity, even referencing his own brother’s death, which he had never done in public. Unscripted, unfiltered, raw and heartfelt. And despite rioting in other parts of the country, Indianapolis, where Robert Kennedy spoke, remained calm. Stoic amidst the chaos. In response to the Charleston 9 who were murdered by a white racist at the downtown AME Church, President Obama recalled our country’s history in dealing with racist attacks on black churches. And he reminded everyone that — as the AME church had risen before out of ashes, from earthquakes — it will rise again. The tragedies of April 4, 1968 and June 17, 2015 can not be compared to that of August 12, 2017. But hate is hate. And our response to it, no matter how, must be with a deafening blow. Twas not the case yesterday.
Stating there are “many sides” to the conflict is a burning insult to the only “side” who has been on the receiving end of slavery and discrimination for a better part of our country’s history. And it is because of that — and for the fact that this country deserves better — that I took the liberty of re-working President Trump’s remarks. They go like this:
I am demanding an immediate end to the violent and racist demonstrations which have filled the streets of Charlottesville. As President, I am reiterating the calls of Virginia’s Governor to all the self-proclaimed Nazis and White Supremacists: Go home!
Civil rights make up the cornerstone of our country’s democracy. In our founding document, the declaration of independence, it held that all men are created equal and are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Those are more than words, but more like a religion for our country. When those beliefs are pressed to the brink, we have gone to war to defend them; abroad and at home.
When individuals or groups seek to diminish others based upon the color of their skin, they stomp on those civil rights and seek to erode the cornerstone of our country. It will not happen. Not on my watch. To those who march and protest in Virginia, know that your freedoms and rights end when they begin to impose on others. They do not extend to or allow you to suppress the voices or actions of another race. At the point when protests turn away from peace and towards hate and violence, it is there that you will be stopped and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
To those who believe these protests help advance my agenda to Make America Great Again — you’re wrong. The notion of racial and ethnic purity is in direct conflict with everything I believe in as a citizen and as your president. And if you have offered your support to my presidency in hopes of advancing those ideals, I am telling you now I do not want it.
There are no safe harbors in this country for hate and racism. The preservation of this country hinges on the unity of its people. A division between its citizens only hurts ourselves. Our country’s wounds shall only heal with time and love. But I’m calling on each and every one of you — inside Charlottesville and outside — to turn your hearts away from hate. I’m praying for this country and that it will — in the words of Abraham Lincoln — be touched once more by the better angels of our nature. I’m praying for Charlottesville. I’m praying for us.