Cheryl Cook: Torches or candles |

Cheryl Cook: Torches or candles

Following the violence and tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia, the president said that not all of the people participating in the Unite the Right Rally were Nazis or white supremacists.

He said, “Some were very fine people” and “the press has treated them very unfairly.” Those must have been the fine people wearing Make America Great Again hats striding alongside the Nazi armbands, Confederate flags, Kevlar vests, shields, sticks and guns.

Did those very fine people not hear the slurs or the shouts, “You will not replace us!” “Jews will not replace us!” “Blood and soil!” “Whose streets? Our streets!” and “F— you fa—-ts!”? You cannot march with neo-Nazis and be “very fine people.” We cannot stand with a president who appeases neo-Nazis and be “very fine people.”

Corporate CEOs did not agree with Trumps remarks. Business leaders and CEOs quit his Strategy and Policy Forum and Manufacturing Jobs Initiative Board, where they had not yet begun to advise the president on manufacturing and job growth.

Mr. President, instead of retreating to the bunker of your base, defend our Constitution.

They know that you cannot build infrastructure, manufacturing and jobs on a government’s disintegrating moral foundation.

The Military Joint Chiefs did not agree with Trump’s remarks and rebuked the Unite the Right Rally. They know that the military’s strength lies in its teamwork and camaraderie. Racial and ethnic minority groups made up 40 percent of the Defense Department’s active duty military in 2015 (Pew Research Center).

A courageous cadre of Republican politicians including Corker, Flake, Graham and McCain have gone from distancing themselves from a vindictive president to questioning his competence and stability.

World leaders, including Germany’s Angela Merkel, condemned the rally: “It is racist Far Right violence, and clear and forceful action must be taken against it, regardless of where in the world it happens”.

The good people of Charlottesville and other cities and towns across this country held vigils lighting the darkness with candles, not torches.

Our Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Mr. President, instead of retreating to the bunker of your base, defend our Constitution.

You have failed to bring this country together. You speak only to supporters and call others the “enemies.” You have stoked and exploited the resentment and grievance against immigrants and Muslim terrorism in order to rally a base. You have used a perceived victimization to such an extent that men now pick up torches, sticks and guns to take back a perceived loss of stature.

You immediately and angrily condemn terrorist attacks in Paris, London and Nice, but you hesitate to condemn the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia following violence and the death of a young woman and two Virginia State Troopers.

I have walked the streets of Paris, crossed the London Bridge, strolled the Ramblas in Barcelona and the cobblestone alleys of old town Nice. I was shocked and saddened by the loss of life by the hands of terrorists there. But when my president hesitates to condemn terrorism by white supremacist Americans on our own sweet hollowed ground that was soaked by the blood of 620,000 Americans during the Civil War, we cannot remain silent.

The Civil War ended in 1865. The Robert E. Lee statue wasn’t erected until 1924. It was not erected at the end of the Civil War. It was erected during the Jim Crow era when racial oppression and segregation was the American way of life. Like the Nazi swastika and the Confederate flag, it symbolizes the glorification of white supremacy and oppression of minorities.

It was Abraham Lincoln who said on the battlefield of Gettysburg, “It is for the living, rather, to be dedicated here to do the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task before us … that from these honored dead we take devotion to that cause for which they gave that last full measure of devotion …”

It’s the candle that will light our way to do the unfinished work of the Civil War — not torches.

Cheryl Cook lives in Penn Valley.

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