People want to blame President Trump for the tragedy that happened in Charlottesville. I think that’s a little simplistic.
Trump is a symptom of a rot infecting us. He didn’t create this. He has fanned the flames of something that was already burning.
When Dylann Roof carried out his murderous rampage in Charleston, I was in the midst of my run for County Commissioner. I was regularly traveling throughout the county as I have since fracking came to the region. Confederate battle flags popped up all over Butler County and I watched the flags appear where they had not been. That predates Trump’s campaign.
This racist/xenophobic/homophobic/Islamaphobic/anti-Semitic/anti-immigrant attribute is a sick part of our national identity. It’s a cancer that has metastasized and it has even attached itself to our body politic; even the presidency. It is not some new phenomenon — Black Lives Matter, a group that arose out of a real need, predates Trump and President Obama’s deportations of the undocumented make our current president seem like an amateur, but that’s relatively recent history. Red lining, Jim Crow, slavery and the genocide of the indigenous people of this continent shaped who we are as a people and the consequences are still with us.
I do not think that the majority of Butler County residents are racists. I do, however, think that we have way too much tolerance for the subgroup of our neighbors who are. I also think that we have been shaped by our racist history. I am a fierce advocate for free speech but people who espouse racist views should not be ignored.
This is not a Democrat versus Republican issue, not left or right. This is a right or wrong issue. There is only one place in the America that I love for unchallenged racism: in museums.