On the EDge: If you don’t condemn racism, you condone it

In this Aug. 13, 2017, photo Brittney Cain-Conley, lead organizer for Congregate Charlottesville, with hat, gets a hug from a supporter after she addressed the crowd during a vigil on Sunday held at the site where a car plowed into a crowd of people protesting a white nationalist rally on Saturday in Charlottesville, Va. | AP Photo by Steve Helber, St. George News

OPINION – The issues we face today are complex, filled with nuance and detail that can often be difficult to wrap your arms around.

It’s perfectly understandable and acceptable to waffle a bit when it comes to the Affordable Care Act, tax reform or even how we deal with North Korea.

These are issues of consequence that, quite frankly, demand debate and deliberation. To treat them otherwise would be foolhardy.

However, when it comes to racism and bigotry, there is no room for debate or deliberation.

Either you condemn it in all its ugliness or you condone it.


You don’t waffle, you don’t appease the hate mongers regardless of how many votes they delivered to your side of the ballot.

And, that is, without question, the greatest failure of this presidency.

Saturday’s tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia was the United States at its worst.

A group of angry, white supremacists, violent white nationalists and alt-right thugs gathered to defend a statue memorializing Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that the Charlottesville City Council had decided must be removed.

The statue is a representation of the antebellum South, a romantic ideal with little base in historic accuracy. It was not a time of beauty and grace, as so often depicted, especially for the captive slaves who were torn from their homeland to be beaten, raped and locked into an existence of servitude.

To memorialize that time, that man, that mindset, is to trample on the concept of liberty and justice for all.

We do not honor field marshals of the Third Reich in the United States, just as we do not honor any others who have taken up arms against the nation and its principles. Just as we should not salute flags adorned with swastikas, we should not salute flags representing the Stars and Bars. Robert E. Lee was as much an enemy combatant as Osama bin Laden, with whom he shared the goal of defeating the United States.

Saturday, a group of neo-Nazi, white supremacist, alt-right radicals put together what was billed as a rally to “Unite the Right.”

Clashes broke out between the demonstrators and an opposition group before the event began, forcing Gov. Terry McAuliffe to cancel it in the interest of public safety.

But, it was too late. Anger boiled over, resulting in a 20-year-old man from Ohio taking his car and ramming it into a group of protesters assembled to counter the white supremacists, killing one and critically injuring more than a dozen others.

While it is true that a loosely organized group of radicalized far left wingers who call themselves AntiFa made their presence known, their angry actions did not justify the taking of human life.

In the immediate aftermath the president spoke to the nation in a mumbo-jumbo of soft-pedaled words that danced around the issue of hate groups and racism – saying “many sides” were to blame – and veered into self-aggrandizing as he wondered aloud why anybody in the nation would be upset or angry because of all the good he has done since taking office.

When pressed by a reporter who asked if he condemned white supremacists and their hate groups, the president walked away, leaving the question unanswered.

Except, in his silence, he answered the question.

The effect was picked up immediately.

The hate groups hailed the president’s nonremarks as being supportive of their cause.

“When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room,” wrote Andrew Anglin, the founder of The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website. “Really, really good. God bless him.”

An Indianapolis Star photojournalist captured David Duke, who founded the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Louisiana in 1974, a modern-day sect of the KKK, as he addressed the crowd Saturday in Charlottesville.

“This represents a turning point for the people of this country. We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in,” Duke said, “that’s why we voted for Donald Trump. Because he said he’s going to take our country back. That’s what we gotta do.”

Expressions of outrage exploded from both Republicans and Democrats.

Sens. Orrin Hatch, Marco Rubio, John McCain and Chuck Grassley, significant players in the GOP, were at the forefront of the criticism, leading the president to take a slightly harder edge when he, much later, tweeted: “We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets (sic) come together as one!”

It was too little, too late.

It also gave Duke one more opportunity for the spotlight as he reminded us of this administration’s indebtedness to these groups.

“I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists,” Duke Tweeted in response.

In case there were any remaining doubters, Duke’s Tweet pretty much summed up who owns whom and where allegiances lie.

This is not the end of it.

Organizers promise there will be more “Unite the Right” rallies, that they have unfinished business in Charlottesville, that the alt-right is the new right.

That means there will be more clashes between the two sides and that more people will die as these radical fascists who practice their evil white nationalism continue to ratchet up hate.

Make no mistake, it was a matter of taking the coward’s way out by saying “both sides are to blame.”

No, they are not to blame.

Standing up to oppression has always been a part of the American fabric and, now more than ever, something we should not abandon.

These assaults on freedom and equality are assaults on all of us.

And, that is unacceptable.

No bad days!

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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  • Brian August 15, 2017 at 8:56 am

    Ed, what is your definition of racism? I agree with Martin Luther King, Jr’s definition: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”. Racism is judging someone (for good or bad) based solely on the color of their skin.

    So do you also condemn the Black Panthers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Y3Cd9gnvlw), Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton and their ilk who profiteer off race-baiting, the NAACP, and affirmative action in general? They all meet Martin Luther King, Jr’s definition of racism. Or do you share the lefts view that racism can only come from white people?

    Other than that I agree, Trump should have condemned white supremecists from day one of his campaign and ever since, and never should have allowed someone like Bannon into his inner circle. Of course, again, how can you have a problem with Bannon without also having a problem with Van Jones, Valerie Jarrett, David Axelrod, Bill Ayers, and many others that are equally radical, just in the other direction?

    • desertgirl August 15, 2017 at 3:30 pm

      Trump was actually holding his tongue that day. Plenty was said by him. The reality was the ‘other protesters’ were there to stop others from practicing their rights and hoping for violence; they got it. Many of us saw the video of a black man from the other side coming to a fight with a flame-thrower. It was not necessary for Trump to criticize one group when everyone involved was guilty of inspiring violence.

  • ladybugavenger August 15, 2017 at 9:37 am

    There’s an elementary school here named Robert E Lee. Guess what? In an already underfunded education system that doesn’t pay teachers what their worth, and education is at a minimum, they are spending the money to change the name… was it this moment in time that led to the name change…absolutely.

    Martin Luther King defined racism and it’s an excellent definition. I feel like society is changing that definition to only white people are racist. It’s not true. Bad people come in all colors.

  • tcrider August 15, 2017 at 9:44 am

    I have to admit, I was pretty impressed that the local nationalists were pretty low key in the greater saint george area.
    it restores my faith for where we live, when you compare it to other parts of the country.

    • Brian August 15, 2017 at 10:52 am

      There was a 16 girl (Paulina Plaksej Kisielewska) who gave soup to Jews in Nazi Germany. It was a death sentence at the time and she was sent to Auschwitz. Fortunately it was closed down before the sentence could be carried out. In 1987 she was honored as one of the “Righteous Among the Nations”. As an old lady she said, “Remember, the righteous didn’t suddenly become righteous. They just refused to go over the cliff with everybody else.” American society is going over a cliff right now, forgetting morals and embracing intellectual dissonance. I really hope we’re able to avoid that in southern Utah. Colleges everywhere are teaching that unless you think a specific way you’re “intolerant” and should be silenced, ironically as a fascist (apparently not realizing they’re using fascist techniques to silence discussion and differing views).

  • tcrider August 15, 2017 at 9:48 am

    or maybe the local nationalists are on their way back from road trip to Charlottesville

  • ladybugavenger August 15, 2017 at 9:58 am

    The KKK has been around for a long time. They are awful and horrible people. They are born and raised to hate the color of our skin. I’m sure I’ve come across an individual associated with white supremacy, if I have, then their power is only in numbers because alone, by themselves, they have no power.

    There are people that are black that I come across and don’t like but it’s not because their black, it’s because they are mean and hateful to me. There are people that are a white that I don’t like, it’s not because their white it’s because they are mean and hateful to me. And I’m sure they don’t like me either, mostly because I voted for Trump.

    just because I don’t like someone that is black doesn’t mean I’m a racist. I just don’t like them because of their actions. Like Obama, for example, if your white and didn’t vote for him or like him- you were racist…. no folks I didn’t like Obama because he had no balls.

  • NickDanger August 15, 2017 at 10:00 am

    Standard rhetoric presented in the form of a false dichotomy. Of course there are many shades of racism, and we are all racist to varying extents. What most people classify as “racists” are those who verbalize what many others feel but keep private. But even a person who goes out of his way to accommodate other races is acting in a racist manner – treating people differently because of their race.

    We all know there are differences in different races of people. You’d have to be stupid – or just PLAY stupid as most people do – not to recognize that fact. If I were to detail those differences here, that would be considered racist. So it’s just this (very, very important) thing that never gets discussed. When the differences do come into play, invariably and often, we’re just unequipped to deal with it, time and time again. We don’t even have the language to talk about it anymore. The language of real discussion between the races has been co-opted by the media into the category of profanity. “We didn’t want to talk about this…stuff, but now this thing happened to this…person, and it was done by this other…group of people. We’ll keep you updated as the riots commence.”

    So no, there are not only two extremes of racism. There are many points in between – the real points on the racism spectrum, reflective of the feelings of the vast majority of people (that there are things that need to be discussed and addressed, but it is now officially and socially forbidden to discuss them) – that are totally invalidated by this type of posturing.

    Racism has been with us for all of recorded history. History tells us that racism is mankind’s overriding motivator from the very beginning to the current day. The writer’s undemanding attempt to dilute it to a black-and-white, right or wrong issue is a few thousand years late. But noted.

  • comments August 15, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    Not a big fan of reruns, but here’s my same comment from Hyde’s article, as it applies here:

    It’s funny, well not funny, but the actual meaning of slogans like “black lives matter” is “I hate white people”. They might as well chant what it is they want to say: “I hate white people! I hate white people!”. The leftists HAVE become the new fascists. This idea of some sort of multi-racial one world utopia isn’t a new idea. Pretty sure it’s similar to what the bolshevik communists were promising in russia. It didn’t turn out so well. Realistically, people want to live amongst those of similar ethnicity, race, culture, value systems. That’s why separate countries exist. The leftists and their idea of the multi-cult will always lead to failure and disaster. I’m not a fan of “neo-nazis” or “white supremacists” but if you’re white and not standing up for your own race you need to be slapped… right across the face, and hard. The reality is different racial groups will probably never really get along. They might be able to coexist in an area, but there’ll always be tension and they’ll never really “get along”. At the rate things are going this country will be majority mexican within 15-20 years and I don’t think “neo-nazis” or “white supremacists” will be something to worry about. The worry will probably be “mexi-nazis” and “mexican supremacists”. Strange times

    Also, ripping out statues and monuments to the confederacy is really a horrible thing to do. Trying to erase history of this country for what? Then again, maybe it would be better to erase that history and stop telling blacks “the evil white man made you’re ancestors slaves!”. Just keep the hatred alive by always telling them they’re perpetual victims of whites, right? I love the convenient omissions in leftist-taught history that leaves out the fact that a great many of those responsible for the slave trades to the americas were Jews, Arabs, and other black africans. That’s right, IT WASN’T ALL THE WHITE MAN’S FAULT, OOOOH! And THAT cute little omission is purely politically motivated. And a vast majority of the ancestors of us whites had nothing to do with slave owning. But you leftists just need to keep the hatred alive, don’t you?

    • Gcia August 16, 2017 at 5:45 am

      Amen! I was beginning to think there was no one that gets it! Well said!

  • statusquo August 15, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    The short version of Ed’s article is this, racists of any color should be condemned, black or white.

    • Gcia August 16, 2017 at 5:48 am

      That’s crap! That’s not what he said at all. Maybe you need to go back and read it again.

  • Who August 15, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    Then Ed should have said that. He was very one sided just like the rest of the radicals in this country. (Of any color) Once again no attempt to unite the people, just another attempt to condemn from Ed.

  • desertgirl August 15, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    Tell that to BLM, NAACP and a slew of organizations. Lots of luck with that. btw Living in the past and and encouraging revenge
    has never improved the present or future.

  • Henry August 15, 2017 at 7:44 pm

    Ed, you stated, “a statue memorializing Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee…is a representation of the antebellum South…To memorialize that time, that man, that mindset, is to trample on the concept of liberty and justice for all.”

    – There are memorials throughout America that commemorate the service and sacrifices of Soldiers of the Confederacy. Should they also be removed?

    – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Andrew Jackson are among the former Presidents that were slave holders, an ultimate representation of the South. Should their memorials be removed? Should their faces be removed from our paper currency? Should Washington and Jefferson have their faces removed from Mount Rushmore?

    – You stated in a 2012 OpEd that, “I was adamantly opposed to the Vietnam War.” In a 2016 OpEd, you called the Vietnam War “an unjust, immoral war” in which you said you would have avoided serving if you had been drafted. Should memorials commemorating the service and sacrifices of Vietnam Veterans be removed?

    – “Dixie” is “associated with those parts of the Southern U.S. where traditions and legacies of the Confederate era and the antebellum South live most strongly”, per Wikipedia.

    – Dixie is also the name for our area of Southern Utah. According to Utah historian Will Bagley, in a 2012 Salt Lake Tribune article, “The name Dixie reflects the sympathy that the Southern Utah and the Mormon people felt for the Confederacy.” Should we rename our area of Southern Utah? Should we rename our local university?

  • John August 15, 2017 at 8:30 pm

    BLM, KKK, ANTIFA, NAZIS, and all the others are RACIST TERRORIST GROUPS.. Keep up the leftist agenda Special ED !! You just don’t get it !

  • dodgers August 15, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    Trump condemned the hatred and violence of both sides. He was very clear. His only failure was that he didn’t include ANTIFA when naming names. And it appears there may be more blame to go around, including the local police. However, I prefer to let our justice system work, see what facts are revealed by investigations, rather than a lynch mob. Our previous president was notorious for diving in head first before the facts were revealed. I’m glad our current president is slower to judgement and is willing to let our justice system work.

  • KCGreg51 August 16, 2017 at 10:48 am

    Racism and intolerance are bad no matter where they are found, but I am concerned that this article, like many I have seen, implies that all of the racism comes from white conservatives. My observation tells me that the lion’s share of racism and intolerance actually comes from the left.
    Another thing that bothers me is trying to apply 21st century sensibilities and political correctness to 19th century history. It just doesn’t work.

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