Trump must dis­own white na­tion­al­ists

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - Dana Mil­bank is syn­di­cated by The Wash­ing­ton Post Writ­ers Group. Dana Mil­bank Columnist

Dana Mil­bank says it will be dif­fi­cult for op­po­nents to work with the new pres­i­dent if he gives sanc­tion to big­otry.

I’m afraid I missed the con­fer­ence of white su­prem­a­cists in Wash­ing­ton last week­end.

I was host­ing my daugh­ter’s bat mitz­vah.

But I have a pretty good pic­ture of what hap­pened, be­cause luck­ily — for me, if not for them — sev­eral other jour­nal­ists at­tended Satur­day’s gath­er­ing of al­tright leader Richard Spencer’s Na­tional Pol­icy In­sti­tute at the Ron­ald Rea­gan fed­eral build­ing.

At­ten­dees shouted “heil” and “Lu­gen­presse,” a Nazi term that means “ly­ing press.” Some of the few hun­dred at­ten­dees ap­plauded men­tion of the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi web­site. Re­al­ity TV per­son­al­ity Tila Te­quila tweeted an im­age of her­self and oth­ers giv­ing a Nazi salute and the mis­spelled words “Seig heil!”

White na­tion­al­ists and coun­ter­demon­stra­tors clashed vi­o­lently in the street out­side the gath­er­ing in down­town Wash­ing­ton, and, as The Wash­ing­ton Post’s John Woodrow Cox re­ported, in­side and out­side a fam­ily restau­rant, Mag­giano’s, in north­west Wash­ing­ton.

The scenes seemed as if from an­other time and an­other place, but in Don­ald Trump’s Amer­ica, they are here and now. And if Trump doesn’t do some­thing more force­ful to dis­own his neo-Nazi hang­ers on, they will con­tinue their brazen march into the main­stream.

The New York Times quoted Spencer at the con­fer­ence say­ing that “we have a psy­chic con­nec­tion, or you can say a deeper con­nec­tion, with Don­ald Trump in a way that we sim­ply do not have with most Repub­li­cans.”

“We’ve crossed the Ru­bi­con in terms of recog­ni­tion,” Spencer said, ar­gu­ing that “Amer­ica was, un­til this last gen­er­a­tion, a white coun­try de­signed for our­selves and our pos­ter­ity. It is our cre­ation, it is our in­her­i­tance, and it be­longs to us.”

Politico quoted Spencer say­ing the alt-right was “a head with­out a body” and “the Trump move­ment was a body with­out a head.” Now, “I think, mov­ing for­ward, the alt-right can, as an in­tel­lec­tual van­guard, com­plete Trump.”

The Los An­ge­les Times quoted Spencer say­ing Trump’s elec­tion was an “awak­en­ing” and that “we’re not quite the es­tab­lish­ment now, but I think we should start act­ing like it.”

The white na­tion­al­ists are em­bold­ened by Trump’s se­lec­tion of Sen. Jeff Ses­sions, R-Ala., and Stephen Ban­non to top jobs in his ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Ban­non, who boasted that the Bre­it­bart News out­let he ran was “the plat­form for the alt-right,” was praised lav­ishly by Spencer. And The Post’s David Weigel quoted Spencer say­ing Ses­sions — tapped to be at­tor­ney general — is “eye to eye with us” on im­mi­gra­tion. (Ses­sions has tried to re­strict le­gal im­mi­gra­tion.) Shortly af­ter the elec­tion, Trump said his sup­port­ers who were ha­rass­ing Mus­lims and Lati­nos should “stop it.”

But they aren’t stop­ping. In the past few days, a city park in Brooklyn was de­faced with swastikas and the mes­sage “Go Trump!” while an Arab-Amer­i­can Uber driver in Queens filmed an­other driver shout­ing at him: “Trump is pres­i­dent so you can kiss your [ex­ple­tive] visa good­bye, scum­bag. … They’ll de­port you soon.”

While the white na­tion­al­ists were meet­ing in Wash­ing­ton and clash­ing with pro­test­ers, Trump was en­gaged in a Twit­ter fight with the cast of the Broad­way mu­si­cal “Hamil­ton.” Trump de­manded the ac­tors apol­o­gize for urg­ing Vice Pres­i­dent-elect Mike Pence, who at­tended the show, “to up­hold our Amer­i­can val­ues and to work on be­half of all of us.”

Rather than quar­rel with that un­ob­jec­tion­able mes­sage, per­haps Trump could lis­ten to the Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton char­ac­ter in “Hamil­ton” sing “One Last Time”:

“Like the scrip­ture says: Ev­ery­one shall sit un­der their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid.”

This pas­sage, from Micah 4:4, is in Wash­ing­ton’s let­ter to the Jews of New­port, R.I., in 1790. The rabbi re­called these words dur­ing my daugh­ter’s bat mitz­vah.

“Hap­pily,” Wash­ing­ton wrote, “the govern­ment of the United States, which gives to big­otry no sanc­tion, to per­se­cu­tion no as­sis­tance, re­quires only that they who live un­der its pro­tec­tion should de­mean them­selves as good cit­i­zens, in giv­ing it on all oc­ca­sions their ef­fec­tual sup­port.”

Please read Wash­ing­ton’s words, Mr. Pres­i­dent-elect, and re­peat them to Richard Spencer and his ilk as you brush off the white na­tion­al­ists rid­ing on your coat­tails.

There is room for co­op­er­a­tion on much of Trump’s agenda. But co­op­er­a­tion is dif­fi­cult, if not im­pos­si­ble, when a pres­i­dent gives sanc­tion to big­otry.

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