What a pres­i­den­tial pres­i­dent would say

What hap­pened in Char­lottesville was not the fault of ‘many sides.’

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION -

HERE IS what Pres­i­dent Trump said Sat­ur­day about the vi­o­lence in Char­lottesville sparked by a demon­stra­tion of white na­tion­al­ists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan mem­bers: We con­demn in the strong­est pos­si­ble terms this egre­gious dis­play of ha­tred, big­otry and vi­o­lence on many sides. On many sides.

Here is what a pres­i­den­tial pres­i­dent would have said:

“The vi­o­lence Fri­day and Sat­ur­day in Char­lottesville, Va., is a tragedy and an un­ac­cept­able, im­per­mis­si­ble as­sault on Amer­i­can val­ues. It is an as­sault, specif­i­cally, on the ideals we cher­ish most in a plu­ral­is­tic democ­racy — tol­er­ance, peace­able co­ex­is­tence and di­ver­sity.

“The events were trig­gered by in­di­vid­u­als who em­brace and ex­tol ha­tred. Racists, neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan mem­bers and their sym­pa­thiz­ers — th­ese are the ex­trem­ists who fo­mented the vi­o­lence in Char­lottesville, and whose views all Amer­i­cans must con­demn and re­ject.

“To wink at racism or to con­done it through si­lence, or false moral equiv­a­lence, or eli­sion, as some do, is no bet­ter and no more ac­cept­able than racism it­self. Just as we can justly iden­tify rad­i­cal Is­lamic ter­ror­ism when we see it, and call it out, so can we all see the racists in Char­lottesville, and un­der­stand that they are anath­ema in our so­ci­ety, which de­pends so cen­trally on mu­tual re­spect.

“Un­der what­ever la­bels and us­ing what­ever code words — ‘her­itage,’ ‘tra­di­tion,’ ‘na­tion­al­ism’ — the idea that whites or any other eth­nic, na­tional or racial group is su­pe­rior to an­other is not ac­cept­able. Amer­i­cans should not ex­cuse, and I as pres­i­dent will not coun­te­nance, fringe el­e­ments in our so­ci­ety who ped­dle such anti-Amer­i­can ideas. While they have deep and nox­ious roots in our his­tory, they must not be given any quar­ter nor any li­cense to­day.

“Nor will we ac­cept acts of do­mes­tic ter­ror­ism per­pe­trated by such el­e­ments. If, as ap­pears to be the case, the ve­hi­cle that plowed into the coun­ter­protesters on Sat­ur­day in Char­lottesville did so in­ten­tion­ally, the driver should be pros­e­cuted to the full ex­tent of the law. The Amer­i­can sys­tem of jus­tice must and will treat a ter­ror­ist who is Chris­tian or Bud­dhist or Hindu or any­thing else just as it treats a ter­ror­ist who is Mus­lim — just as it treated those who per­pe­trated the Bos­ton Marathon bomb­ing in 2013.

“We may all have press­ing and le­git­i­mate ques­tions about how the vi­o­lence in Char­lottesville un­folded — and whether it could have been pre­vented. There will be time in com­ing days to delve fur­ther into those mat­ters, and de­mand an­swers. In the mean­time, I stand ready to pro­vide any and all re­sources from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to en­sure there will be no re­cur­rence of such vi­o­lence in Vir­ginia or else­where. Let us keep the vic­tims of this ter­ri­ble tragedy in our thoughts and prayers, and keep faith that the val­ues en­shrined in our Con­sti­tu­tion and laws will pre­vail against those who would des­e­crate our democ­racy.”


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