On August 12, during the second day of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA, organized by white supremacists and white nationalists, 20-year-old neo-Nazi sympathizer James Alex Fields, Jr., rammed a gray 2010 Dodge Challenger into a crowd of counter-protestors, injuring 35 people and resulting in the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides,” President Trump said from his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., where he had been vacationing. “It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time.”
Trump—who sidestepped any mention of white supremacy, white nationalism, the KKK, or neo-Nazis in his statement, to the delight of those who identify as such—immediately faced a bipartisan backlash for his “many sides” comment, only to double down on this moral equivalency days later, claiming there was “blame on both sides” as well as “some very fine people on both sides.”
That the President of the United States would not only defend white supremacists but also selfishly try to distance himself as a cause of its renewed prevalence, after eight years of back-breaking efforts to promote empathy and diversity on the part of his predecessor, should come as no surprise a year after the tragic events in Virginia. Charlottesville mayor Michael Singer, however, was less equivocal.
“I’m not going to make any bones about it,” Singer said in response to Trump’s waffling. “I place the blame for a lot of what you’re seeing in America today right at the doorstep of the White House and the people around the president.”
Singer has a point, and it’s backed up by numbers—one recent study directly correlates Trump’s tweets to a rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes, this study points to the overall rise in hate crimes in the Trump era, while this study cites an 86% increase in anti-LGBTQ violence in the last year—as well as, you know, paying attention.
For instance, consider the number of people who feel that America is (finally!) “great” again because they can apparently say the N-word in public now. These upstanding citizens, no doubt proud to call themselves the Donald Trump definition of “patriot,” make headlines each day for being the absolute worst: like this festering boil of a man who referred to two black women as “fucking animals” for simply being in his neighborhood; there’s this charmer with far too much time on his hands who menacingly followed a woman for wearing a Puerto Rican flag t-shirt; then there’s this walking embodiment of privilege who threatened to call ICE on someone for having the audacity to speak Spanish around him; and how can we forget the real song of the summer—the sound of white people calling the cops on black folks for basically being black out of doors.
With a second Unite the Right rally planned this weekend, on the anniversary of the first, it’s important to understand just how complicit the Trump administration has been in stoking the fires of racism, bigotry, xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia, misogyny and just plain awfulness in the wake of Charlottesville.
Equally important is the understanding that America didn’t start being racist, etc. under Donald J. Trump—racists simply feel more comfortable than they have in decades in blatantly flaunting their bigotry. While some may call this free speech, let’s not hesitate to call hate by its name, to combat it at every turn, and to hold those accountable for its proliferation, no matter what office they may hold or power they possess.
Below, a timeline of Trump and his administration’s incendiary incidents since August 12, 2017:
Aug. 19: Praises protestors at a right-wing “free speech” rally literally a week after Charlottesville
Aug. 23: Sends memo to Pentagon calling for the ban on trans military service he announced via tweet the previous month; the ban would eventually be blocked on 10/30
Aug. 25: Pardons Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the man who is the answer to the question: What if evil could get a pension?
Sept. 5: Attorney General Jeff Sessions—the answer to the question: What if a ventriloquist dummy was magically brought to life by racism?—announces the end of DACA, putting hundreds of thousands of immigrants at risk
Sept. 7: Secretary of Education/woman-who’s-ingested-more-disgruntled-waiter-saliva-than-actual-water Betsy DeVos confirms the rollback of Obama-era sexual assault directives/Title IX guidelines; rollback becomes official on 9/22
Sept. 7: DoJ files legal brief in SCOTUS arguing the constitutional right for businesses to discriminate on sexual orientation and gender identity
Sept. 14: Reaffirms belief that both sides were to blame at Charlottesville while, ironically (and some would say begrudgingly), signing a Congressional resolution condemning white supremacy hate groups
Sept. 22: Calls for “son of a bitch” football players who kneel in protest of racially-charged police shootings to be fired at a Luther Strange rally in Huntsville, AL
Sept. 23: Picks Twitter fight with Steph Curry, who preemptively gave a “No Thanks” to a post-playoffs White House visit
Sept. 24: Updates travel ban with non-Muslim majority nations like Venezuela, Chad, and North Korea
Sept. 25: Blames Puerto Rico for its slow recovery following Hurricane Maria, despite providing little in the way of aid or the administration’s attention
Sept. 30: Criticizes mayor of San Juan for criticizing his administration’s completely inadequate response to Hurricane Maria
Oct. 3: After bending over backwards for Hurricanes Harvey (TX) and Irma (FL), does the bare minimum for Hurricane Maria with the paper towel toss seen round the world
Oct. 5: Department of Justice reverses Obama-era protections for transgender employees, thus allowing workplace discrimination based on gender identity
Oct. 6: Weakens the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act so businesses don’t have to provide free birth control
Oct. 8: Vice President and noted heterosexual Mike Pence, at Trump’s request, walks out of a game between Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers because some 49er players kneel during the national anthem
Nov. 20: Ends temporary residence for victims of 2010 Haiti earthquake
Nov. 27: Makes Pocahontas “joke” about Sen. Elizabeth Warren at ceremony honoring Navajo vets, which is later criticized by the National Congress of American Indians
Nov. 29: Retweets a British far-right leader’s anti-Muslim video
Dec. 3: Pulls out of UN’s global strategy to reform migration, citing U.S. “sovereignty”
Dec. 11: Calls for end of “chain migration,” also known as that thing that allowed his wife’s parents to become American citizens
Dec. 27: Dismisses all ten members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS
Jan. 5: Requests $18 billion to “Build The Wall”
Jan. 9: Calls the U.S. court system “broken and unfair” on one of the few occasions it actually does something right: keeping DACA in place while its under litigation from the Trump administration
Jan. 11: Refers to African nations and Haiti as “shithole countries” while citing his preference for immigrants from places like the overwhelmingly white Norway
Jan. 17: The first annual (?) “Fake News Awards”
Jan. 19-22: Blames Democrats for shutting down the government over DACA, despite the fact that the GOP literally controls every branch of government
Feb. 5: Calls Democrats who refused to applaud during his State of the Union address “treasonous”
Mar. 23: Doubles down on banning trans servicemembers in the military with a memo filed in a U.S. District Court in Seattle
Apr. 4: Sends National Guard to Mexico border to fight illegal immigration
May 4: Ends temporary protected status for Hondurans
Jun 10: After a disastrous G7 summit, trade adviser Peter Navarro says there is a “special place in hell” for Justin Trudeau; presumably, Navarro was keeping it warm (cold?) for him
Jun 15: After a DHS report reveals that nearly 2,000 migrant kids have been separated from their parents, Trump blames the Democrats while conveniently neglecting his own earlier zero tolerance policy on immigration which led to the separations in the first place
Jun. 27: SCOTUS upholds the travel ban
Jul. 9: Nominates ultra-conservative Brett Kavanaugh to fill Justice Anthony Kennedy’s seat on the Supremes, putting the future of Roe v. Wade and LGBTQ rights in jeopardy
Jul. 24: Eases into his best 1984 life, telling vets in Kansas City that “what you’re seeing and what you’re reading [in the media] is not what’s happening”
Jul. 31: Calls for stricter voter ID laws as part of the GOP’s age-old quest to deny black people—and, increasingly, brown people—the right to vote
Jul. 31: Sessions announces creation of “religious liberty task force” presumably to protect Christians’ rights to oppress everyone else
Aug. 2: Press Secretary/Satan’s lap-dog Sarah Huckabee Sanders calls the press “the enemy of the people,” conveniently forgetting she won that title, unanimously, months ago
Aug. 3–5: Trolls LeBron James and calls Don Lemon “dumbest man on television,” neglecting the fact that he, too, is on television; part of his unending war on the media and free press, whom he calls “dangerous & sick” and claims “can also cause War” despite the overwhelming evidence that unhinged leaders usually do that
Aug. 8: Drafts a law to deny green cards to immigrants who use social services
And on and on and on…